University of Chicago Study: Tackling resume bias

May 14th, 2024
The HireVue Team

The University of Chicago Becker Friedman Institute of Economics recently released the results of an experiment that studied the role race and gender play in the job application process. 

  • The study targeted over 100 Fortune 500 firms with 83,000 fake job applications for 11,000 entry-level roles. 

The applications included various names, all typical of either a black or white male or a black or white female. Appendix F of the Research Brief includes the background and research for deciding first and last names (in addition to emails, addresses, social security numbers, etc) with the below table highlighting the first names used.

According to its brief, the experiment found that, “A small number of companies are responsible for a substantial amount of the contact discrimination measured.”

And while the study showed that racial discrimination varied across the board, HireVue was excited to see a common denominator among the top performing firms, or those with the least discriminatory practices.

Of the top 14 firms whose practices showed little to no racial discrimination, nearly all are HireVue customers.

  • Structuring the interview process 

    Keurig Dr Pepper, a HireVue customer, is a leading North American beverage company with a massive portfolio of 125 brands. The company ranked in the top 3 of those companies with the lowest racial disparity.

    Julie Loubaton, VP of Talent Acquisition at Keurig Dr Pepper, recognizes their hiring team’s achievement in tackling bias.

“We strive every day to have fair and equitable recruiting practices, and we are pleased to see that reflected in this data. We attribute it to our well trained, highly effective recruiting team supported by great technologies and well defined processes that are focused on finding top beverage talent.” 

Loubaton and her team focus so much of their strategy on creating a positive candidate experience, striving to be the employer of choice, and identifying the skills that best predict success. 

“KDP uses a ‘recruiter-led’ hiring process where our centralized recruiting department partners with our businesses to understand their needs. This allows the organization to focus on skills-based hiring.”

The team has turned to HireVue hiring solutions like OnDemand and Invites and Reminders as a way to help structure their interview process—ensuring all candidates are asked the same questions, no matter their name, background, alma mater, or who knows who. 

Our partnership with HireVue enables us to hire at scale to deliver qualified candidates to the organization at significantly less time than a traditional recruiting cycle.”

Assessments drive fairness 

Human Potential Intelligence offers AI-driven tech specially designed to measure the skills and competencies that predict success—thus eliminating review based on arbitrary factors like alma maters, name, and titles that play no role in predicting success. 

Of the two lowest performing firms in the study, the disparity estimate for black applicants to receive a callback was about 25% for both.

Assessments are a key piece to reducing bias in your process, allowing teams to support decision making with data but also providing a fairer candidate experience.

When the Co-Operative Bank incorporated Hirevue video interviewing and assessments (based on key customer service competencies), it saw:

  • 90% reduction in bias
  • 50/50 gender hiring split
  • 90% CSAT score 

Centralizing HR operations

According to the study, The New York Times reports there was one key detail that affected the role racial discrimination would play at a company:

“Several common measures — like employing a chief diversity officer, offering diversity training or having a diverse board — were not correlated with decreased discrimination in entry-level hiring, the researchers found. But one thing strongly predicted less discrimination: a centralized HR operation.”

HireVue technology streamlines hiring, not only making it more efficient through automation but employing the science and data-backed solutions that add more objective assessment to the process. And when coupled with a strategic, centralized HR operations department, TA teams can ensure all candidates experience the same process and are evaluated equally, mitigating bias and ensuring they’re all evaluated on the key skills and competencies that best predict success. 

Diversity benefits both society and business

The Times ends its summary with a poignant reminder, that the most successful companies are less biased. 

Finally, more profitable companies were less biased, in line with a long-held economics theory by Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker that discrimination is bad for business. Economists said that could be because the more profitable companies benefit from a more diverse set of employees. Or it could be an indication that they had more efficient business processes, in HR and elsewhere.”

It goes without saying that creating a candidate experience that values everyone and supports strong DEI initiatives is obviously the right thing to do. 

However, there is also something powerful created when different people and minds come together at an organization with a common goal—because success is not created with one-dimensional practices but rather with diverse thought that goes on to breed success.