The Next HR Hurdle: Geographic Exclusion

April 24, 2018 Derek Heim

Put yourself in this scenario: You are the senior recruiting officer for your company, and it’s time for you to begin hiring interns for the summer. You know from your past experiences, that you will get a lot of applications if you go to schools X, Y, and Z. You’ve always gone to these schools, and you are very comfortable with this set-up. Your boss tells you to also reach out to school P and school Q. These two schools are different from what you are used to, and you haven’t heard anything about them. You feel that you will not get a sufficient turnout of worthwhile recruitment options, so you decide to stick with your original list. You’ve just expressed an implicit bias against school P and school Q. 

Implicit bias are biases that each and every one of us carries. Having them, however, does not mean that you are racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist, or closed-minded. According to The Scientific American, we have implicit biases because our brains are doing their jobs, observing patterns around us, and making generalizations. This same process that allows for higher intelligence is what subconsciously makes us biased.

The role of HR in understanding implicit bias

How does your HR department successfully manage a strategy that is inclusive to diverse groups and populations? How can you — and all of us, for that matter — avoid implicit bias and overcome the next big HR hurdle — geographic exclusion? 

The simple answer? There is no simple answer. Implicit bias and geographic exclusion are two concepts that go hand-in-hand, and it takes more than one blog or one lecture to understand what they are and how they affect your organization. It requires plenty of self-reflection and evaluation in order to figure out where your biases lie and how you can overcome them. That being said, it is still crucial to have these discussions in a professional setting, even if the answers don’t immediately present themselves. 

Understanding these implicit — or subconscious — biases is the start of a strong, inclusive recruitment strategy. All of us surround ourselves with others that are like us. This can become an issue when recruitment or hiring is involved. 

More biases crowd in 

According to Forbes, we sometimes like to hire those that grew up in the same area as we did, or those that went to the same college. However, this excludes a very large portion of the population — different experiences, different skill sets and different areas of knowledge are lost to an organization. If every employee comes from the same background, with the same overall experiences, the business as a whole is unable to run on all cylinders. 

This “geographic exclusion” can lead to organizational skill gaps that can affect the overall performance of the business. For example, in a survey of 856 managers, one in four believe that their peers and senior leadership actively and visibly champion gender initiatives and programs. 

Leaders of organizations across all industries acknowledge one standard: The strength of their day-to-day operations is made possible by the people they employ, and how strong they make the company’s Worker Experience. Creating a strong, inclusive human resources strategy can be a factor that makes — or breaks — your company’s culture. Being able to say that your organizations actively seek out the best and brightest of working employees (regardless of age, race, gender or location), puts your strategy ahead of others in your industry. 

Being aware of the ways we subconsciously view society can lead to a stronger team full of diverse members. Happy team members, lead to happy customers. And happy customers, lead to happy team members. This is the Virtuous Cycle

Do you want to learn more about the Virtuous Cycle and how Appirio works to make sure that we have a strong Worker Experience? Check out our blog for more information and resources! 

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