You’re Going to Fail
This is Imani. Growing up in an immigrant family, she dreamed of going to Harvard. She worked hard, studied those long nights, and one day she got in. There, she toiled and drove herself to graduate with honours. With her prestigious degree in computer science, along with an increasingly open job market, Imani expected to land a job easily. But no one got back to her. Days turned into weeks and Imani didn’t get a single interview.
The reason can be traced back to this study, which found that African Americans have a 52% lower chance to be employed compared to their white counterparts.
When Imani finally did get hired after asking her previous professors to vouch for her, she made less than other new-grads who were men. It’s 2020 but women still only make 81 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same position.
Imani’s story is absolutely horrendous. She pursued the American Dream, but all it gave her was a glimpse into the injustice of our society. Her story is not an anomaly, almost 80,000,000 people working in the US have experienced it in one form or another. It’s a story about hiring bias.
Why does it exist?
Discrimination. Let’s face it. Humans are inherently biased. While some people actively discriminate, we can agree that most people aren’t trying to be jerks. Nonetheless, unconscious bias is just as bad of a problem when we’re talking about crushing people’s hopes and dreams.
What kinds of biases are there?
- Gender + Sexual Orientation
- Race + Ethnicity
Why Current Solutions Suck
Here in Canada, we pride ourselves on being a progressive and just country. In reflection of this narrative, the Canadian government legislated the Employment Equity Act in 1995. The act set out to assure diversity across the country in order to combat hiring bias.
At first, this sounds like a fabulous act to be implemented. But when you examine the act, some disappointing elements appear.
First are the groups that this act sets out to protect. There are only 4:
- Aboriginal peoples
- Persons with disabilities
- Members of visible minorities
But there are plenty more types of bias that need to be addressed! What about age? Or sexual orientation? How about Religion? Or Beauty? This list goes on and on. A crucial flaw in the Employment Equity Act is that it doesn’t address all types of biases.
Worse yet, the Act doesn’t even apply to all companies! It only applies to federally regulated companies. This means that only crown corporations and corporations that have contracts with the government are affected.
This is only the minority of both companies and employees. In 2019, there were 15.45 million people working full time in Canada. The Act only protects 0.76 million employees, which is 5% of the Canadian workforce.
Other countries have not been as progressive. The USA has no official monitoring and auditing system in place to ensure diversity. Europe has developed a protocol but has yet to implement this into companies.
Regardless of the actions of these companies, companies have started to hire people of more diverse backgrounds using quotas. This is a progressive step towards equality, but even light has its shadow.
There are two major sources of economic damage that hiring bias has: Bandaid Solutions. Hiring Bias Itself. Bandaid Solutions are like rudimentary tools such as quotas.
Bandaid Solution — Imposter Syndrome
You’ve probably felt it before. The horrible feeling that you’re a fraud. That it’s only a matter of time before they figure out. More often than not, you get it when you’re in a new environment, like a new job or a promotion. In fact, 70% of people face this syndrome at least once in their lives. Most people get over it after being accustomed to their environment, but some are not so lucky.
Minorities are the majority when it comes to feeling Imposter Syndrome (IS) on a daily basis. One study found that 75% of female professionals regularly procrastinate due to IS. This is due to the fact that when people suffer from IS, they begin to act as if they were an imposter. Self-destructive behaviour, procrastination, and the inability to delegate are common symptoms of IS. According to this study, IS is negatively correlated to all work-relevant outcomes. This is a huge problem for minorities.
How come minorities suffer from IS so much? It’s because of the quotas. When a minority is hired they think, “I didn’t earn the job, I only got hired because they need to fill up their quotas for diversity.” This burden is added to the fact that they just entered a new environment. So the IS of minorities is both more severe and lengthy.
IS doesn’t only affect the people, it also affects the business. In fact, one study finds that it costs businesses around $5,650 per employee with IS per year. If you have 100 employees over the course of 10 years, that’s 5.65 million dollars in lost revenue!
Bandaid Solution — Workplace Conflicts:
On the other side of IS, we have the start of workplace conflicts. When some people see the new minority hires, they think to themselves, “They only got in because they were minorities. I, on the other hand, got in through performance. I don’t want to work with them.”
This aggression against minorities is highlighted in this study, where 18–31% of minorities were discriminated against in the workplace within the past year.
This aggression causes work conflicts, which reduces the well-being and productivity of employees. Productivity correlates to money, and according to one study, the US economy lost about $359 billion dollars due to workplace conflicts!
Hiring Bias Itself — Lawsuits
Remember Imani? Well, minorities like her have filed lawsuits against companies, like Merrill Lynch. From only three lawsuits, Merrill Lynch lost over $500,000,000. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. There are lots of other companies like Google, Nike and Walmart who have still have open class-action lawsuits right now.
In a world without Hiring Bias, companies wouldn’t lose millions or billions of dollars, along with the negative PR of being a racist or sexist company.
Hiring Bias Itself — Turnover
Discrimination in hiring naturally extends itself into the workplace environment, leading to almost 30% higher turnover rates for minority groups, costing companies upwards of $8000 per exit.
Hiring Bias Itself — Talent Acquisition
In today’s market, all companies are human capital companies, and with the increasing challenges in talent acquisition, bias is simply economically inefficient, companies that aren’t diverse are losing the talent war because they are limited in their selection of hires and their profitability suffers because of it.
“In a post-pandemic world, where a remote and global workforce is the norm, organizations need every advantage they can get in the race for talent.” — Ranjit S. (Co-Founder of Stack)
- Hiring bias is a huge problem
- There are many types of hiring bias
- The current solutions from the Government and Companies are ineffective
- Hiring Bias is a Problem that is Economically Incentivized