Recruitment - do you recruit mini-me's?

Written by
Changeboard Team

30 Jul 2010

30 Jul 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Mini-me syndrome

Mini-me syndrome is a social phenomena where executives and others in the recruitment process choose employees and successors who are similar to themselves often in age, style, industry experience and importantly, gender and race. Habitually, these leaders adopt an attitude of its worked well up until now, so why change course?

Often, they are not even aware of their subconscious filtering of candidates. This is of concern for any organisation where the majority of leadership positions are held by males. In order to sustain competitive advantage, it is essential to offer the right balance of strategic thinking, problem solving and visioning both internally and externally. This not only impacts on the knowledge and services offered to clients, but what has worked in the past, and for current market conditions, wont help when the business environment changes.

Understanding unconscious bias

We are naturally wired to automatically and subconsciously stereotype and categorise those individuals who are different from us. Often we are not even aware of our unconscious bias and how this may be prejudicing our behaviour and decision-making process in dealing with others. This unconscious bias or blind spot exists in every contact point in an organisation from interactions between colleagues, recruitment and how you engage with your customers. 

Bias in recruitment means that an organisation is subconsciously cutting itself off from high calibre talent and the Benefits they would bring to your business in the future. In the era of social media, employer brand and reputations can suffer faster and deeper than ever. The overall damage can be long drawn and painful as future talent simply chooses to go elsewhere. Changing beliefs such why bother no one like me is ever hired here can be expensive to change in more ways than one.

Bias awareness training

Bias awareness training is the first step for leaders and managers to prevent subconscious bias from affecting their promotion and recruitment decisions. Through bringing the concept of unconscious bias into individual awareness, one can begin a process that can regulate the resulting behaviours and eventually effect the beliefs that exist. Although bias awareness is a step in the right direction alone, it is not enough.

Cognitive behavioural mapping

Cognitive behavioural mapping is a coaching and facilitation technique to improve the way we think and feel about individuals who are different from us. Coachees are encouraged to make personal connections with how thoughts and beliefs are connected to actions, decisions behaviours, moods and physical experiences, personal experiences, media and to the events in their lives. Participants also learn skills for inclusive leadership and collaboration.

Widening the talent pool

Bias awareness is a step in the right direction to make visible and measurable difference. Behaviour and attitudes need to be Challenged and changed. The following are five crucial initiatives which can make a difference to reducing the bias in recruitment;

  • Work and partner with executive search and selection organisations that specialise in offering a pool of talented and diverse candidates. Note talent first, diversity second. This isnt about token gestures or quota filling.
  • Address stereotypes that women and minority employees 'lack the necessary skills'.
  • Build company-wide cultural awareness of the subconscious stereotypes that exist in recruitment and succession planning.
  • Build leadership capability so your leaders have the skills to engage in more effective conversations with all individuals.
  • Promote a company culture of an inclusive and collaborative leadership style.

Addressing personal bias in recruitment

Bias awareness and conscious inclusion is potentially one of the most fundamental tipping points in the very tired debate for equality and diversity. The agenda is at last shifting from beliefs such as 'lets fix the women' to forcing us to examine our own personal bias. This debate is now inclusive, everyone has a bias at some level, conscious or subconscious.

Of course not everyone will be comfortable exploring their personal biases and many will feel fear of exposure. Experience has shown that this isnt the case at all. The reality is that this shift is challenging decision makers to question their thinking and accept things need to change. The Results can only be positive for widening the talent pool and improving your organisation's performance.