The human brain likes shortcuts.
Some of those shortcuts are great. It’s how we know to instinctively run if we hear a snapped twig and a growl in the dark of night. It’s how we can know a friend needs help, simply by the expression on his face, or even how we can easily read a sentence like this:
We cna raed tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Our brians tkae shrutctus.
But some of those brain shortcuts are dangerous. Especially in social interaction. Especially at work. And especially in the hiring process.
Cognitive biases are subjective perceptions that we fall back on as we process information. They are based on instincts or outdated habits of thinking and they impair our ability to objectively observe a person or situation. Unfortunately our hiring processes are riddled with them.
In our research at Mercer, we’ve identified cognitive bias in hiring as a key roadblock to gender diversity in talent and inclusion initiatives.
"One of the things our research shows is that we need to address the individual's behavior, conscious and unconscious biases, as well as the organizational practices that may also have bias,” observed Jill Zimmerman, Mercer Chief People Officer, at our recent When Women Thrive in Media and Entertainment conference.
Here are five cognitive biases that are impacting your ability to hire or promote talented women within your organizations:
Here’s one more bias, and perhaps this is the most insidious, for those of us who are working to eliminate bias in our organizations: the Bias Blind Spot, or the failure to recognize your own cognitive biases. How many of us are carrying biases even while we are working to educate others?
It’s critical for us to establish clear business imperatives in our organizations in order to help filter against and avoid these biases, improve diversity and inclusion overall, and remove barriers to gender equality.
Want to learn more about gender diversity and hiring? Discover insights from Mercer’s When Women Thrive.