Tagged google

How Google Plans To Conquer Its Unconscious Biases

Google’s diversity numbers in 2014 were less than impressive.  Overall 70% of the company was male and 61% was white.  Asians made up 30% with African-Americans pulling up the rear in a tiny 2% caboose.  To increase the thin number of minorities, Google is having an estimated 60,000 of its employees undergo training to combat the unconscious biases that plague us all. google-485611_640

Business Insider was permitted to publish the slide deck for Google’s diversity training.  Here are a few key takeaways.

  • We consciously process only 40 bits of the 11 million bits of information we receive every moment
  • 99.99% of information we receive is unconsciously processed.
  • Companies with higher proportions of board directors that were women outperformed others by 53%
  • Diverse teams out perform others, especially when handling complex problems
  • Structured job interviews increase fairness, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Traits for good managers are overwhelmingly associated with men than with women.
  • Asking for feedback on hires or promotions can increase diversity
  • Socializing with a more diverse group increases the amount of information to which you have access
  • We all have biases.

The overall picture is that diversity is good but we are pretty bad at recognizing and ignoring our unconscious biases. Google recommends the following to their employees to combat this.

  • Use structured interviews which give all job candidates a fair shot. As a proponent of video interviewing, I have seen personally how video interviewing’s structured interview process reduces discrimination.
  • Collect data to measure progress and spot patterns of bias. For instance in 2013 Google discovered that 77% of its homepage Doodles celebrated the birthdays of famous male leaders and innovators.  In 2014 they made sure to evenly split their celebrations of men and women.
  • Hold yourself and others accountable.  Get feedback on your decisions. Call out others’ decisions.  Make decisions as a group.  A good example of group decision making is collaboration on reviewing the video interviews of job candidates during the hiring process.  This allows other genders and ethnicities to voice their opinions.

Research is continuing to prove that a more colorful workforce is better than any one color alone.  Look outside your office window!  Notice anything missing?

Not Good at Hiring? Don’t Feel Bad! Neither was Google.

Google’s name lately has become so synonymous with success (if success is measured by how much money you make) that when they speak, people shut up and listen.  Recently Google VPGoogle’s VP of People Operations discussed a few of their past hiring failures.  As a proponent of video interviewing, part of his conversation really intrigued me.

“Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring. We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It’s a complete random mess,…” 

“Instead, what works well are structured behavioral interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up.”

Here we see Google the all powerful basically admitting they had gotten it wrong.  Not only during the interview did the VP say that their notorious brain teaser questions were useless but also that their interviewing strategy was ineffective.

Two benefits of video interviewing come to mind when I read the article and one benefit I had not considered.  First, Google’s VP recognizes the power of using the structured interview to consistently assess each candidate.  Virtual one-way video interviewing provides such a structure by asking each candidate applying for a particular role an identical set of questions.  Not only does this reduce the random mess from interviewers making stuff up, structured questions reduce the risk for discrimination.

The second benefit which I had not considered is that your recorded interviews can be used as data to measure the success of your hiring practices.  Evaluate the achievements of your current employees and compare their success to how you first evaluated their video interviews.  Did your shining stars perform poorly in the interview (false negative)?  Did some of your current duds nail the interview (false positive)?  Are some of the questions you are asking not a predictive indicator of employee success?  Can you tell if some managers, based on their rating of job candidates, are performing ineffectively when deciding on the best candidate to hire?

Recorded video interviewing, aside from the efficiency it provides, also supplies you with data you need to improve your future hiring cycles.  Now I’m not rich and you don’t have to shut up but I suggest you listen.