Limit Gender Bias in Business with Longer Shortlists of Job Candidates

Siobahn Hotaling serves as a project consultant at Adaption Institute, where she is conducting research into the science of personality development. For the project, Siobahn Hotaling will utilize experience gained while compiling her Harvard University Extension School capstone project, “Implicit Bias Transformation Program,” which explored how people can unconsciously hold attitudes that promote inequity.

New research published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that companies can help reduce gender bias in hiring by creating longer, informal shortlists of potential job candidates. In part, the researchers performed a study that asked 858 adults to create both a shortlist and an extended shortlist of job candidates for an action-thriller film. They found that 33 percent more female candidates appeared on the extended shortlists. The researchers went on to conduct two additional studies that compared the ratio of male-to-female job candidates on shortlists versus extended shortlists. In one, they asked 265 adults who had held positions in the technology industry to make shortlists and extended shortlists of job candidates for a position as CEO of a California-based technology startup. This study recorded 44 percent more female candidates on the extended shortlist.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers recommend utilizing longer shortlists to achieve gender diversity objectives in business. However, the researchers could not confirm that creating extended shortlists of job candidates necessarily leads to hiring more gender-diverse personnel. They called for more studies in this area.

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Siobahn Hotaling

Siobahn Hotaling — Musician and Digital Marketing Professional