An HR training helped us realize that unconscious biases could affect our hiring process — and we wanted to find a way to address that.
Leveraging the learnings from our training, we quickly created a prototype to help us eliminate unconscious bias as a factor.
The result was antibias, a Chrome extension that replaces LinkedIn profile photos and names with geometric patterns, removing any potential bias when reviewing job applicants. Within two weeks on the Chrome web store, we saw hundreds of installs — and ended up with an Honorable Mention at the 2019 Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards & 2019 Fast Company Innovation By Design Awards.
When it comes to recruiting candidates for interviews, sometimes what you see impacts who you interview. It’s called unconscious bias. These biases are learned stereotypes that are automatic and unintentional, but they are also able to influence behavior. Case in point: white-sounding names can result in 50% more callbacks for interviews.
As part of a global diversity and inclusion training initiative, Beyond wanted to explore the reality of unconscious bias and what we could do to help. Participants in that training session were asked to use what they had learned to brainstorm tangible ways to reduce bias in their daily lives at work. One idea: avoiding LinkedIn profile photos and names early in the recruiting process might help. Since this wasn’t an option on LinkedIn, was there something we could do?
Think fast, build fast
An hour later, someone on the team created a functional prototype of a Google Chrome extension that did the job. To test our new tool, we gave the Beyond recruiting team two weeks to put it through its paces, and conducted in-depth interviews to gather their feedback. Based on what we heard, we iterated new features and functionality to best support the recruiting experience.
Small steps, big impact
“The digital revolution is leaving black people behind” read a headline from an article by Vox last year. They reported that African Americans are frequent users of technology, who’ve helped to build social platforms and technology companies into the giants they are today. But unfortunately they — along with other minority groups — aren’t reaping the same economic benefits of the tech boom and its mostly white, mostly male workers. And the low rate of diverse employment in the industry has everything to do with it.
While there’s still much work to be done to reduce workplace bias and we know this product can’t address all of the complexities of employee diversity — we believe it can help. When HR reps change the way they recruit, it can have a huge impact on just who is considered for a role. By eliminating unconscious bias in the process, we believe we’ll see huge changes in the diversity of the tech-industry workforce and beyond.