The different types of unconscious bias

3 min

Over the past few decades, diversity and representation have been a major driving force throughout the entire recruitment process. However, despite the best efforts of hiring teams across the world, unconscious bias is still is still present at each stage of talent acquisition, from the CV to the interviews.

It’s often said that within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, a solid impression has been made and according to Forbes, important traits like trustworthiness are determined within a tenth of a second. So, while companies may have good intentions, underlying brain activity can easily distort decisions.

The different types of unconscious bias

Unconscious bias can come in many different forms covering a broad spectrum from gender and race to religion and socio-economic status. While implementing new talent strategies will help reduce the bias, the first step is recognising some of the most common types.

Gender Bias

A key example of this bias is to assume one candidate would be better suited to a role due to their gender.

Halo Bias

This type of bias is most evident when a recruitment team latches on to one positive trait, ignoring any obvious flaws which would make a candidate unsuitable for a role.

Horns Bias

Everyone has their flaws, but this unconscious bias sees talent acquisition teams focus on a single negative characteristic and ignore the positives.

Affinity Bias

We’re naturally drawn to those we share similarities with, but this can lead to a single-minded workforce. Affinity bias often sees talent acquisition teams lean towards those they relate to.

Beauty Bias

As unfortunate as it is, unconscious bias can also make people immediately favour those they believe to be more attractive than other candidates.

Contrast Bias

When we learn of a candidate’s achievements, we’re quick to compare them to something else. This bias means recruitment teams aren’t judging the applicant on their merits and may even underplay their achievements.

Recognising and overcoming unconscious bias can quickly create a more productive workforce. Another article by Forbes suggests culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to see better profits, and when applied to more senior levels, this percentage only increased.

We chose unconscious bias as one of the key topics in the Armstrong Craven 2020 Spring Review. Shahid Malik, our Global Programme Manager, explored the detrimental effect it is having on businesses around the world and what more can be done to begin building a truly diverse workforce. To find out more, download the Armstrong Craven Spring 2020 Review today and see our insights in the ‘Unconscious Bias’ chapter.

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