Tech entrepreneur Laura Mather wants to help you do a better job of hiring. Specifically, she wants to help you increase diversity in your company by eliminating bias in the hiring process. The ex-Google and eBay tech veteran has created Unitive, a technology company aimed at giving employers tools to overcome unconscious hiring bias.
The technology does a number of things, beginning with the job listing itself. Mather says in this Think Progress piece that many companies describe jobs and job requirements with coded language that excludes women and people of color.
One study finds that certain words often turns women off. So Mather’s technology gives people writing the job reqs information and tools to make them more gender neutral.
Unitive then gets involved in resume reviewing and interviewing.
“When we hire people, we use the baseline that we have, which is ourselves,” Mather explained to Think Progress. And bias for one particular thing in one particular part of someone's background or resume can “contaminate” the rest of the hiring process.
So Unitive makes the gender and race of an applicant anonymous, and then compartmentalizes components such as work history so a hiring manger only sees one piece at a time.
Unitive tools then assert themselves in the actual interview process.
“We are constantly reminding people about what is most important to that job so that we can disrupt that pattern mismatch that is usually irrelevant,” Mather said.
That can be done via a computer interface that gives regular prompts, or through hard copies of questions that include reminders of what the interviewer should most be focusing on.
Mather says there is no shortage of businesses or industries that need more diversity in their workforce.
But she emphasizes that much of what women and people of color are up against in the workplace is unconscious bias, not overt mistreatment or prejudice.
“You can’t just talk about it,” she said. “You definitely need leadership to be modeling the right behaviors and be reinforcing the culture change. But…it just isn’t enough...my platform can actually change behaviors from the ground up such that the culture change will happen.”
Mather says she's not stopping with new hires though. Next up for Unitive will be taking on bias and prejudice in performance reviews, talent development, and promotions.
Do you think you are biased when it comes to hiring? Is it even practical to think about hiring someone without knowing their gender? Could you imagine taking prompts and hints and reminders from a computer program while you are sitting across from a job applicant?