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Recruitment Best Practices

What is values-based hiring?

Every new hire either adds to or detracts from your organization’s values. One of the easiest ways to impact the strategic success of your organization is to hire people who match your organization’s values.

To ensure organizational values don’t get diluted, companies must create a culture of values-based hiring excellence that:

  1. Attracts a broader, more qualified pool of applicants that align with the company’s values.
  2. Can identify those candidates who will enhance the organization’s values instead of dilute them so that the company can execute on its strategic plans.

Each employee brings with them values and culture from their previous roles.  Only by ensuring a level of integrity between a new employee and your organization’s values can your company grow without diluting its culture.

How does values-based hiring impact an organization?

  • Strategic alignment and acceleration
  • Reduced attrition/better retention
  • Faster time to hire
  • Less unconscious bias

What is wrong with hiring and promoting based on merit?

A fascinating study by researchers Emilio J. Castilla (MIT) and Stephen Bernard (Indiana University) showed that the more an organization explicitly presents itself as a meritocracy, the more gender imbalances exist in that company, especially when it comes to pay gaps. They coined the term “paradox of meritocracy” to describe the phenomenon in which managers in organizations that promote themselves as meritocratic show greater bias in favoring men over equally performing women for raises and bonuses.

Further, emphasizing meritocracy can turn off minority candidates, especially when a company has low levels of visible minority representation. For example, a Yale-led study found that advocating a “colorblind” policy (as opposed to explicitly valuing diversity) when minority representation in recruiting materials was low led African-American managers to experience heightened distrust and discomfort with an organization. (There was no effect of advocating a colorblind policy vs. diversity when minority representation was high).

Are YOU calling ME biased?

We’re not calling you biased, but today’s leading researchers are. To be human is to be subject to unconscious bias in every decision and assumption we make. As Sheryl Sandberg aptly summarizes,

Most people would agree that gender bias exists… in others. We, however, would never be swayed by such superficial and unenlightened opinions. Except we are. Our preconceived notions about masculinity and femininity influence how we interact with and evaluate colleagues in the workplace. … gender bias influences how we view performance and typically raises our assessment of men while lowering our assessment of women.

In a cross-disciplinary study out of Yale, science faculty compared applicants for a lab manager position. The applicants were identical except for being named John or Jennifer. Even across male and female reviewers, John consistently received higher ratings and a higher offer for starting salary than did Jennifer. Consider the similar study in which African-American sounding names got 50% fewer callbacks than white-sounding names for interviews. If you’re interested in understanding more about your unconscious bias, check out Harvard’s Implicit Association Test.