由 Lisa Chamoff
, Contributing Reporter | December 09, 2019
“With women applicants … more of the words tend to be around nurturing characteristics: they’re enthusiastic, they’re a good team player, compassionate,” Meltzer said. “Would you rather hire someone who is enthusiastic or brilliant? We know we’re biased towards brilliance and we love to think that people have natural brilliance. So those nurturing words attract us when we’re thinking about positions.”
While some searches for leadership roles require that diverse candidates are put forward, the hiring process can still be flawed, especially if there is only one woman or person of color put forward, Meltzer said.
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“What this data shows is that if you have all men and one woman in the finalist pool, or all white candidates and one underrepresented in medicine candidate, the changes of hiring that othered candidate, the one who is different, is nearly zero,” Meltzer said. “If there is a diverse pool overall, the chances of hiring a diverse candidate go up dramatically. There’s something about seeing a pool of individuals and seeing someone who’s different and associating that difference with incompetence, not being qualified, a risk. This is incredibly important, because if we want our cultures to change in our institutions and organizations that have a lot of built-in bias, diverse leadership is critical.”
To avoid these situations when hiring for leadership positions, Meltzer recommended blind applications.
Affinity bias, or liking someone because they share a lot of things in common with you, and conformity bias, in which individuals tend to go with the majority opinion of a group, can also come into play in these decisions.
Meltzer stressed that it was important to think about how bias can affect the hiring process and have discussions about how to overcome them.
“We often think our judgements are non-biased, but that’s what this was about: to talk to you about how we all have it,” Meltzer said.
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