When it comes to the future workforce, the power is in the untapped potential. In our last article, we dug through the traditional way of hiring based on experience and why that can leave Gen Zs hiding in their shells-- afraid to try if they aren’t perfect at something. That’s why it’s so important that you encourage and empower the innovative, ambitious side of students so that you can evolve as a business and grow faster with young minds at your side. Today, we’re going to take you back to the career dinner and let you change up the menu one more time because we aren’t finished just yet.
When we say you want to change the menu and give students a seat at the table, we don’t just mean encouraging their potential and passion for fresh ideas, we also mean paying attention to what’s driving your hiring decisions.
Operating on unconscious bias as an employer means that you’ll end up with a much more homogenous workforce, where beliefs are only ever confirmed and never challenged-- this makes it harder to move forward and innovate.
Put differently, who are you inviting to this career dinner? People you already identify with and know? Is it because they confirm or validate your views and opinions? Is it because they look a certain way, or because they’re from a certain place that you’re already familiar with and feel secure around? It’s quite common that employers to make hiring decisions based on things like this. The phenomenon we’re talking about here is called unconscious bias, which causes us to “act in ways that reinforce stereotypes even when in our conscious mind we would deem that behavior counter to our value system” (Harvard Business School). Unconscious bias is similar to affinity bias, which describes how we are more likely to approve of someone or something if that person or thing has something in common with us (same gender, race, nationality, upbringing, or beliefs).
The problem with hiring someone, because they feel or look right, is that this won’t necessarily transfer to their work ethic or their cooperation with the team dynamic. It also means that you’ll end up with a much more homogenous workforce, where beliefs are only ever confirmed and never challenged-- this makes it harder to move forward and innovate.
Hiring based on a CV alone often leads to hiring stereotypes.
At Minite, we’ve taken conscious steps to eliminate unconscious hiring bias. Last month, we launched our unbiased avatars on our website, so that every student can choose a food with which they identify and set this as their profile photo. When students and employers see these foods and the characteristics they’re tied to, that’s all they see, and judgment or elimination doesn’t go beyond the skills-- plain and simple. We’re also working on ways to replace student names with a generic username, as to remove any possible assumptions clients may make about an individual based on their name (names are often culture-specific, and as we’ve previously explored, unconscious bias is also tied to cultural affiliation). This way, our clients are immediately directed towards evaluating a High-Flyer based on their skills, and nothing else.
Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate any kind of bias, as we are subjective individuals, after all. But it’s important to note that there are pivotal moments in which unconscious bias is most present, and during which we can make efforts to prevent it from taking over: one of these moments being a first impression. When we meet someone for the first time, we tend to associate their presence with something similar we’ve seen before-- something we’re already familiar with. This is a natural reaction, as we’re trying to remember a new, unfamiliar person by linking them to someone or something we’re already familiar with. The problem is that, in doing so, we’re not evaluating the individual independent of our preconceived ideas, and therefore, we’re linking them to stereotypes.
Potential, progress, and performance have everything to do with who you are and nothing to do with how you look, where you’re from, or what you believe in.
The same thing goes for the initial review of a potential candidate -- we’re quick to make snap judgments based on comfort and confirmation. Hiring based on a CV alone often leads to hiring stereotypes. Isn’t it more valuable for an individual to demonstrate skills than just to list them? And isn’t it more valuable to challenge the status quo rather than confirm it, especially when it comes to progress, growth, and unique value in business? At Minite, we don’t have to think twice about that. We want to provide equal opportunities and fair evaluations of our potential hires, and, being a student freelancing platform, we want to make sure that same spirit is present and enforced in the hiring process of one of our High-Flyers for a client.
It’s time to change up the career menu and hire heroes of talent, skill, and drive, regardless of their background. Let’s give students a seat at the table, and let’s set a new status quo-- potential, progress, and performance has everything to do with who you are and nothing to do with how you look, where you’re from, or what you believe in. That’s our new recipe. Are you ready to give it a taste, career world?