How To Actually Hire For Diversity

Aline Holzwarth
5 min readFeb 24, 2021
Behavioral science recommends two approaches for a diverse workforce: weed out bias that inevitably pervades judgment, and intentionally correct for the bias that seeps in despite our best vetting efforts. Getty.

You’re likely already familiar with the benefits of a diverse workforce — from greater profits and innovation to the ability to attract and retain top talent — but what’s less clear is how to actually hire for diversity. How do you translate the rhetoric to action and results? From crafting job descriptions to structuring interviews, lessons from behavioral science can help you design your hiring process to increase the diversity within your organization.

Everyone is biased

Bias is universal and ubiquitous; it can’t be avoided. And it’s not a character flaw, but simply how our brains operate. Despite the feeling that we are good, moral people who treat others with equal dignity and respect, bias inevitably seeps into the hiring process and results in systematic disadvantages for some groups of people. Because of the elusive “bias blind spot” where we are unable to see our own biases, we must take steps to counteract them if we hope to establish a rich and diverse workforce.

Designing more equitable processes requires systems change, which can be achieved through two approaches: weeding out and correcting for bias. Where possible, we can try to reduce bias in organizational procedures, both in how we appeal to applicants and how we evaluate them. And we can implement systems to correct for bias — starting from the assumption that it’s there, and deliberately adjusting for it.

Method 1: Weed out bias

Though we can never fully weed out bias, we can take steps toward minimizing it. Research from behavioral science shows that the most effective ways to weed out bias are by adopting standardized hiring processes, objective hiring criteria, neutral language, avoiding overstuffing, blind evaluations, a diverse set of evaluators, and structured interviews with score cards.

Create standardized processes that apply equally to all job applicants

Because bias is systematically treating groups of people differently, one of the best ways to weed out bias is to ensure that you are systematically treating people equally. By creating rigid procedures that apply to all job applicants, you eliminate the room for improvisation that leads to favoring in-groups…

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Aline Holzwarth

Aline Holzwarth is an applied behavioral scientist, primarily focusing on digital health research and scientifically informed product design. alineholzwarth.com