Seven Steps to Minimize Adverse Impact

Building a diverse workforce creates tangible business value and competitive advantage. Every applicant should have an equal chance to do their best in your selection process. However, we all have different skills,  values and preferences. This means that some degree of adverse impact will inevitably exist in every recruitment process. The key is to structure your process to minimize adverse impact. Only then can you match the right people to the right roles, for the right reasons. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Conduct a Thorough Job Analysis

Ensuring the criteria used to select candidates is directly related to job performance is critical to minimizing adverse impact. If you’re not very clear about the qualities you require, unconscious bias will creep into your selection process and a high level of adverse impact can occur.

2. Undertake a Validation Study

Analyse the results of your current recruitment practice to identify the level of adverse impact. Are you recruiting a diverse mix of candidates or are your candidates predominantly from one group? A validation study provides data and evidence that will help you evaluate the effectiveness and fairness of your selection process. 

3. Use Valid and Defensible Assessments

Psychometric tests help reduce adverse impact because they’re objective. However, different people will always perform differently in any test. For example, younger people tend to perform better in concentration tests than older people; men tend to perform better than women in numerical reasoning tests; women tend to perform better in verbal reasoning tests. So, assessments have certain biases. It isn’t possible to do anything about this. The answer is to combine different job-related tests to minimize bias and adverse impact. For example, combining numerical and verbal reasoning tests will help counteract gender bias.

4. Ensure Your Testing Process is Consistently Fair

This means that groups of test takers should not be advantaged or disadvantaged in their access to your assessments. They should also receive exactly the same testing experience, no matter what device they use to take your tests. Every aspect of your selection process must be consistently fair and dependable for every candidate.

5. Broaden Your Recruitment Strategy to Include Different Groups

Every employer needs to reach out to different audiences and encourage individuals with different experiences and different backgrounds to apply. Don’t restrict your hiring to certain universities and ensure your job  advertisements and promotions don’t contain images or descriptions that might alienate potential applicant groups.

6. Standardize Your Job Interviews and Assessment Centers

It is human nature to like people who are similar to us; however this can lead to unconscious bias and adverse impact in recruitment. To overcome this, hiring managers (and assessors in assessment centers) should be trained in equal opportunities, diversity, employment law, interview skills and avoiding unconscious bias. Interviewers should ask structured, competency-based questions that probe for the desired attitudes and behaviors.

7. Constantly Seek Improvement

You can monitor the level of adverse impact in your organization with the ‘four-fifths rule’. This states that the success rate for members of any particular group – such as males, females or ethnic groups – should not be less than 80 percent of any other group’s success rate. Check your selection process at each stage, to confirm that a diverse mix of candidates is progressing, and aim to continuously improve the fairness of your hiring.

Minimizing adverse impact, through these seven steps, will provide three clear advantages. First, it will help you recruit the right people for each role – those who have the job-related competencies that you have identified as important to success in your organization and in the role. Second, bringing equality and inclusion into your recruitment process will enhance your employer brand and broaden your appeal to a diverse range of applicants, who could potentially improve the performance of your organization. Finally, creating a valid and justifiable selection process, with documented evidence at each stage, will help to protect your organization against lawsuits and discrimination claims.

To learn more about how you can increase diversity and minimize adverse impact in your hiring process download our white paper, Encouraging Diversity Through Fairness in Assessment or visit our website.

About the Author

Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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