Bias When Hiring Mommies, Musicians, and Light Skinned Blacks

Everyone has bias. It’s dangerous to think otherwise.

When you meet job candidates, you form first impressions that include stereotypes and biases. (Not all stereotypes are bad.)

In order to recruit and retain the best talent leaders must confront unconscious bias.


in order to recruit and retain the best talent leaders need to confront bias

Confront bias:

Try a few Implicit Association Tests on Project Implicit to reveal unconscious bias.

In order to overcome bias, you must first identify it. I took the Gender-Career IAT on Harvard.Edu. The result indicates that I associate men with career and women with family. People in my category tend to give more opportunity to men, unless we confront our bias.

Gender bias:

“In the 1970s and 1980s, orchestras began using blind auditions. Candidates are situated on a stage behind a screen to play for a jury that cannot see them…

Even when the screen is only used for the preliminary round, it has a powerful impact; researchers have determined that this step alone makes it 50% more likely that a woman will advance to the finals.” (The Guardian)

Skin color bias:

Light skinned Blacks are judged more intelligent than dark skinned Blacks. This is true even when darker skinned persons have more education. (University of Georgia)

Motherhood bias:

We have a tendency to believe mothers are less committed to work. Mommy bias accounts for a large portion of pay disparity between genders. (NY Times)

7 ways to deal with bias:

  1. Take an IAT test.
  2. Discuss bias in team meetings.
  3. Evaluate hiring decisions with bias in mind.
  4. Monitor the way you assign tasks and give credit.
  5. Define evaluative terms. For example, you might say a person is aggressive. If the person is female, “aggressive” is more likely to be negative.
  6. Expand your experiences. Visit a country where you don’t speak the language.
  7. Attend Unconscious Bias Training.

How might leaders identify and navigate unconscious bias in the hiring process?