- Amit Golder from Deloitte

Disrupting bias in recruitment and performance reviews: a new approach

Unconscious biases influence our ability to make rational decisions about others, and directly impact diversity outcomes. Recognising this, the BMO Financial Group (BMO), one of the top ten banks in North America, has recently undertaken steps to both raise awareness and disrupt bias during recruitment and performance review processes, thereby helping leaders make more objective talent decisions.

It is a common assumption that human decision-making occurs rationally. However, research into psychology and behavioural economics has shed light on the motivations and limitations of rational decision-making. For example, in Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explores how decisions are often based on rapid, intuitive and at times unconscious judgements.[1]Instead, decisions are often the result of cognitive biases, mental shortcuts, assumptions and defaults. (Further information on unconscious biases can be found here).

In the workplace, unconscious biases can manifest within business processes such as recruitment and performance reviews, leading decision-makers to unfairly advantage some, while disadvantaging others. For example, similarity attraction bias causes people to connect more quickly and deeply with those who are similar to themselves. Similarly, implicit stereotypes and attitudes result in positive and negative evaluations towards others based on their membership of a specific social group. In the context of recruitment, the end-results are teams comprising individuals with similar backgrounds and experiences, which negatively impact the potential for diversity of thinking within organisations.

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