- A study discussed in the Harvard Business Review revealed the potential impact of "status quo bias" on hiring. According to researchers at the University of Colorado, when a majority of finalists for a position are white and male, the likelihood that a woman or minority will be chosen reaches almost zero. But if more than one woman finalist of finalist of color is present, their potential skyrockets.
- The odds of hiring a woman candidate were 79.14 times greater if at least two women made it to the finalist pool. Similarly, if two minority candidates were in the pool, the odds a minority candidate would be hired were 193.72 times greater. The effect occurred regardless of pool size, excepting those that had no women or minority candidates at all.
- According to the researchers, adding more women or minority candidates after that has diminishing returns on increasing the probability that a woman or minority will be hired. It is the "difference between having one and two women" or minority applicants that matters. "Basically, our results suggest that we can use bias in favor of the status quo to actually change the status quo," the researchers note.
On the question of diversity, this data clearly points out the strengths of blind hiring practices or algorithmic hiring. In the study, simply having a clearly feminine or ethnic name lead to biases.
When an individual is quite clearly a woman or nonwhite, they tend to be "rated worse than when their sex or race is obscured," according to the study. When there is only one woman in the pool, for example, she stands out as a deviation from the norm. This issue plays into a key decision-maker conundrum, in that they are less likely to choose someone who is different from the group thanks to the perceived risk involved.
"To be sure, our findings would need to be replicated in order to see how these effects play out in other contexts, and we should note that the study results have not appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. However, we think these results are a great foundation for future research to build on. "