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    May 02, 2023    |   Camille Labrie

Reducing Adverse Impact: The Enemy of Diversity

diverse minds fighting adverse impact Written by Justin M. Deonarine, I/O Psychologist 

Read time: 2 minutes  

What is Adverse Impact? 

Adverse impact refers to employment practices that appear to be neutral (or fair to everyone), but actually carry a discriminatory effect against groups of applicants or employees. It is important to keep in mind that these practices are implemented with the goal of a positive outcome, but actually carry unintended impacts (e.g. exclusion) when examined through a different lens. 

Adverse Impact and its Negative Effects on Workplace Diversity 

Apart from the obvious problem of discrimination, how could adverse impact hurt your organization on a productivity level? Keep in mind that adverse impact is the enemy of diversity. The benefits of workplace diversity are well-established. But remember, diversity does not just have to be visible factors such as age, gender and ethnicity. Diversity can also be found in the individual personality differences between teammates. 

Addressing Bias in Hiring 

Subjectivity-based biases in hiring such as the “Like Me Bias” can negatively impact your hiring process. It is hard for hiring teams to recognize these impacts, but doing so is becoming more critical as other organizations are able to find solutions to these challenges (and are able to hire the best talent as a result). Consider the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who implemented blind audition practices in the 1980s. Since that time, their team has become more balanced in terms of gender representation and is much more diverse. 

Using Psychometric Assessments for Diversity 

While blind hiring is one method for addressing bias and adverse impact, another is to use psychometric assessment as part of the hiring process. I am often asked about how organizations are using assessments to support diversity in their hiring process, and I always refer back to the intangible factors (such as personality). For example, many of our retail clients use various assessments as part of their hiring process. This helps them identify strengths within the candidate that may not be apparent, as well as help them understand the diverse skills that the individual brings to the team. These assessments also provide objective information for the hiring manager, who can then make a more informed decision with less subjective bias. (Additionally, it helps them tailor their on-boarding process to better support the new hire.) 

So, I pose to you the following questions: Are you harnessing unbiased insights into your job candidates? Are you using hiring practices that support diversity in your organization? Consider how psychometric assessments can provide you with objective data when considering candidates in the hiring process, and how they can act as an additional layer of protection against unintended adverse impact. Contact us to learn how our assessments can help reduce adverse impact in your organization.   

Filed under: Diversity, Selection