Even tiny gender bias in hiring may impact employers

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New York, Jan 20 | If you are an employer then you need to be unbiased while making hiring decisions or else it can cost you and your company a lot, a new study suggests.

The findings indicate that even a small amount of gender bias can contribute to concerning rates of discrimination and productivity losses that together represent significant costs, financial and otherwise, for the employers.

According to lead researcher Jay Hardy, assistant professor at the Oregon State University in the US, gender bias is a subtle, unintentional preference for one gender over the other.

Despite significant efforts to reduce bias in hiring over the last several decades, it continues to persist and pose potential problems for companies, the researcher said.

“The message of this study is that you can’t ignore gender bias, even if you think its influence is so small as to not be concerning. Society generally recognises bias as a moral issue, but we are now learning the extent to which it is a financial and strategic issue, as well,” Hardy said.

For the study, published in the Journal of Management, the researchers first reviewed about 30 years of studies on gender bias and hiring in the workplace. The good news is that there appears to be less gender bias effect than there used to be.

A couple of decades ago, gender bias influenced about 4 per cent of hires. Today bias influences 1 per cent or possibly fewer hires, the researcher said. To better understand the impact this bias has and what it means for companies, the team ran a series of computer simulations.

The researchers found that even a small amount of bias in hiring decisions can lead to discriminatory action against job candidates, putting companies at risk of costly legal action.

The team also simulated the impacts of some common methods for reducing gender bias in hiring, such as targeted recruiting efforts to build a bigger pool of female candidates and found those methods still pose challenges.

“The targeted recruitment of highly qualified candidates can increase representation, but if you’re not fixing the underlying bias problem, these methods do not address discrimination and can lead to other issues, including employee dissatisfaction,” Hardy said.

Source: IANS

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