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California is one of the most diverse states in America – and indeed one of the most diverse places in the world. That diversity is not reflected in our corporate workforce. In the Silicon Valley high tech sector, for example, just 3.3% of employees are Black, and 6.6% are Hispanic. Only 36.7% are women.
The average job opening gets 250 applications. For larger companies, the number is in the thousands. Many companies want automated tools that can help review all candidates efficiently. However, existing scaling tools lead to biased results. Standardized testing has been proven to identify qualified candidates, but it leads to biased outcomes. Resume data is deeply flawed since research shows it leads to biased outcomes while being the worst predictor of success in a future role.
The result? New hires fail almost 50% of the time.
The way we approach hiring right now just doesn’t work. It fails to judge who is truly a fit for the job. It is also riddled with bias. Here is just a sampling of the research:
- Hiring discrimination against Black workers in the U.S. has not declined in the last quarter century and has declined only slightly for Hispanic workers.
- White applicants get, on average, 36% more callbacks than Black applicants and 24% more callbacks than Hispanic applicants with identical resumés.
- Resumés that have been scrubbed of racial clues for Black and Asian candidates do better in the application pile than those that include ethnic information.
- Many companies only consider candidates from “elite” schools, which are significantly less diverse than the country as a whole.
New technologies exist that – when built ethically – have real potential to efficiently and fairly review all job candidates and find those most qualified. Because these technologies can be built to be bias-free, they also open up hiring and promotion pipelines to women and minority candidates.
But there are no standards governing these technologies. As a result, both the employer community and the technology community are operating in a vacuum.
We urge California lawmakers to seek a legislative solution that promotes the development and use of new technologies to reduce bias and discrimination in hiring – while at the same time helping employers find the best candidates.
We have seen California make great strides with the recent bans on discrimination based on hairstyle and salary history.
Discrimination in hiring must be the next pillar to fall.