This kind of design thinking is also starting to impact the way business is done globally, which is great news. Redesigning
HR procedures based on research evidence should be a core priority of any organization. An increasing number of hiring platforms, including Applied, pymetrics, and Textio (to name but a few) are putting research insights into practice. Some firms are not only blinding themselves to the demographic characteristics of job applicants but also using algorithms to debias the language they use in job postings, designing tests that measure future performance more accurately than unstructured interviews, and overcoming the “groupthink” prevalent in panel interviews by requiring evaluators to make independent assessments.
However, we have to push the envelope even further and tackle the informal practices that shape our workplace cultures. Opportunities should be assigned on merit, not informally, based on whom people know or associate with—or whom they’ve associated with in the past. For example, in many law firms, associates face what is known as performance-support bias, or the “thin file problem,” whereby some associates come up for promotion to partner without ever having participated in high-profile deals. If they don’t appear qualified, it may be because they were never given the opportunity to make a splash. Fortunately, technology can help with these informal barriers, too. For example, meeting apps are now being developed that remind people about desired behaviors and also measure who is interrupting whom, and who gives credit to whom.
We all are biased. Trying to debias our mindsets is incredibly hard if not impossible. Instead, we need to design systems that are unbiased, playing fields that are more level, and opportunities that are given to all. Equality by Design is both the right and the smart thing to do for businesses and governments alike.