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Some Startups are Fighting Workplace Bias in the Technology Field

employee-communicationWorkplace bias may prevent certain companies from hiring people that might not necessarily fit the role of the typical employees the company would usually hire. These subconscious biases prevent real diversity in the workplace and also prevent new ideas from developing.

Fixing this is simple. Tech start-ups like cybersecurity firm, RedSeal, and software startup, Unitive, started looking at their hiring ads and how they were worded.

“Companies often err by using phrases like ‘fast-paced’ and ‘work hard, play hard,’ which telegraph mainstream male,” says Unitive CEO Laura Mather.

Instead, NPR reports, Mather encourages firms to use of terms like “support” and “teamwork” in job descriptions, which tend to attract minorities. The reality is that tech companies that hire the same type of worker draws from the same talent pool. If small start-ups aim for the same workers as Google or Facebook, the small guys will lose out because they can’t offer as much money or the same type of benefits as the tech giants. So small start-ups may want to diversify but maintaining the status quo is increasingly becoming a survival tactic.

Companies like Unitive are employing the ideas of psychologist Anthony Greenwald, who developed the seminal Implicit Association Test in the 1990s at the University of Washington. The test proved that participants associated words like “good” with white and words like “bad” with Black. Realizing that words matter, CEOs like Mather wanted to emphasize more inclusive language.

Companies are also looking at blind auditions, which tests for skills relevant to the job. There are also companies that want to additionally remove identifying information from the application process as well.

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