If you’re like most companies, you strive to create a fair and balanced work environment for your employees. Doing so successfully starts with the hiring process, which is why many businesses put so much time and energy into searching for applicants, providing interviews, and making a final decision. During all this, businesses always try to avoid bias — or even the appearance of bias — in the workplace. Not only is this simply the right thing to do, but it is necessary for the health of your business: workplace discrimination violations can have lasting effects for years, not to mention cutting the bottom line.

What hiring managers and other employees sometimes don’t realize is that hiring bias often occurs at an unconscious level. It isn’t something they set out to do. Rather, it’s just something that happens. This can, of course, get you into hot water, not to mention create an environment that is uncomfortable for both seasoned employees and new hires alike.

Why Bias Occurs on an Unconscious Level

Our country has come a long way toward eliminating bias both in the workplace and beyond. That being said, there is one immutable truth that you must admit to yourself if you ever hope to combat bias – we are drawn to what we know. And what do we know best? Well, ourselves, of course! Hiring policies aside, we often gravitate toward people who are similar to us. Now, before you start thinking that we’re turning this into a discussion on race, it’s important to point out that this concerns several issues. Race, gender, education, residence – any piece of information can unconsciously draw us toward an individual, even if that individual isn’t exactly qualified or right for a particular job. This is human nature and there isn’t anything wrong with it, per se, but in the workplace, you can create an incendiary situation with no ill intent whatsoever.

What You Can Do to Eliminate Bias

The good news is that eliminating hiring bias in the workplace is simply a matter of being aware of the situation and putting into place a few simple tweaks to your hiring process. Here are a few simple tips that you can follow:

Don’t make assumptions — When you make assumptions about a person based on his or her overall appearance, gender, education, etc., you’re doing both you and the applicant a disservice.

Learn to fight your gut instinct — Hiring someone based on a “gut instinct” can sometimes work out very well, but if it means that you ignored questionable issues related to work experience or related skills, you’re asking for problems.

Remove discriminatory language — Any language that could be labeled as discriminatory doesn’t belong in your job posting.

Use blind screening — With blind screening, applicants’ names are removed from resumes to eliminate the possibility of bias at an early stage.

Expand your sources — There are tons of online sources that can be used to find qualified candidates, but too many businesses will find one they like and stick only to that one. Broadening your search will provide you with a wider range of potential hires.

Ask the same questions — Conducting an interview “off the cuff” might seem like a more relaxed, personal way to get the job done, but you’re not a talk show host. You can avoid certain biases by asking the same questions to each and every applicant.

Run a series of background checks — criminal records checks, professional history, and drug tests can provide you with a more well-rounded “snapshot” of an individual. Just remember that certain laws must be followed when it comes to utilizing background checks at any point of the hiring process.

Eliminating bias in the workplace is an important piece of ensuring your workplace is safe and welcoming. Just as important: robust national background checks. NationSearch is an industry leader that will improve your hiring process and make it fairer across the board. Contact us today, and we will get you started.