Racial bias in hiring and recruitment is still alive in many organizations. For instance, a study by the National Bureau of Research showed that job applicants with distinctively Black names are about 10% less likely to get contacted for interviews regardless of their skills, experience, and education level. So, racial bias in hiring is still a problem.

Bias in the hiring process can be present knowingly or unknowingly. But, finding strategies on how to reduce racial bias in hiring can help you attract top talent. 

So in this article, we’ve highlighted 12 steps you can put in place to minimize racial bias in hiring.

Diverse colleagues in a board room (Racial bias in hiring blog)

Image Source: Mapbox on Unsplash

What is racial bias in hiring and recruitment?

Racial bias in hiring refers to discriminating against applicants’ experience because they are of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race ( eg skin color, hair texture, or certain facial features).

So, the bias can occur throughout the entire hiring process, from the job descriptions, and resume screening, to the final interviews. 

For instance, a candidate can be discriminated against because they have a “black” sounding name. So, read on to learn how to reduce racial bias in hiring and in your entire recruitment journey.

12 Ways To Reduce Racial Bias in Hiring

To reduce racial bias in hiring and recruitment, put in place these 12 strategies:

1. Write inclusive job descriptions to reduce racial bias in hiring

Despite regulations, racism remains a problem for candidates in the recruitment process. And this racism often creeps into job descriptions.

CRA 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against any individual because of their nationality or origin when it comes to employment. But, hiring discrimination based on ethnicity and race is still high. 

Research shows that discrimination against African Americans and Latinos hasn’t improved in the last 25 years. So here are two ways to avoid racial bias in hiring by focusing on your job descriptions:

  • Remove language that offends specific groups of people

Avoid using derogatory terms in your job descriptions that are associated with certain ethnicities, races, and indigenous groups. 

For instance, terms such as “Brown Bag”, “cakewalk”, and “Blacklists” are offensive to black people.

  • Use a tool to check for biased language

Use a tool to identify any racial words in your job descriptions. The tool also needs to show you synonyms to replace the biased words. 

For instance, Ongig’s Text Analyzer quickly scans and identifies “exclusionary phrases” based on the reader’s ethnicity, primary/secondary language, and immigration status.

Below is an example of a job ad that includes hidden bias with the phrase “brown bag sessions”. This phrase is linked to colorism and racism against people of color. 

The image below shows how Ongig’s Text Analyzer underlines “brown bag” as racist. And then provides alternative words such as “learning session” or “lunch and learn” which are more inclusive.

2. Build an anti-racism program

What’s the use of eliminating racism in your hiring process if your employees face racism at the workplace every day? So this is where an anti-racism program comes in. Therefore, creating the program ensures all your diverse employees feel protected and comfortable. 

Here are steps to build your first anti-racism program:

  • Get leadership buy-in

For your program to succeed, the executive needs to provide resources. With their support, you can get funds to support your racial training programs. So, communicate with them about your goals for the program.

  • Perform a race assessment

Conduct an assessment to know the tolerance rate of different races and ethnicities in your organization. 

So, send surveys to your employees to know any challenges they are experiencing because of their race or ethnicity. Plus, review your hiring data to know your organization’s commitment to recruiting diverse candidates.

  • Create a program framework

Write the important components of your program and the goals you want to achieve. This will help you stay on track. 

For instance, write the kind of punishment you want any employee found being racist to face. So, write the kind of racial bias training you want your employees to undergo and any other anti-discrimination policies in the Workplace you feel will combat racism.

  • Launch the program

Now launch and promote the program in your organization. Highlight the program’s benefits and purpose.

And regularly collect and analyze data to ensure the program is effective.

3. Enable remote work

Depending on your organization’s location, you may not have access to candidates from different nationalities, ethnicities, and races. For instance, in San Franciso, only 5.2% of the population is black, compared to 13.4% of the United States population as a whole.

Opening up your organization to remote work will allow you to get a large pool of diverse applicants from more backgrounds. 

Here’s how you can put in place effective remote work settings:

  • Set clearly defined roles: Ensure your team writes inclusive job descriptions with clear performance metrics and expectations. For instance, state the number of hours remote workers will have to work.
  • Make communication easy: Pay for communication tools such as Slack. This will ensure effective collaboration and communication between your remote team members.
  • Training and support: Provide one or two months of training for your remote teams. So, don’t assume anything, train them on effective communication, and time management. 

Plus, share with them tips that will enable them to succeed while working remotely.

4. Recruit applicants using diversity-specific job boards

One easy way to hire candidates of different races and ethnicities is to look for them on specific diversity job boards.

Ian Sells, the CEO at Million Dollar Sellers adds, “Diversifying our sourcing channels has enabled us to have a 10% increase in the number of black employees.”

So here are examples of platforms where you can start:

Now, after searching the above platforms and organizations:

  • Go to LinkedIn and look for more related groups
  • Advertise your jobs on their websites

And partner with colleges and local universities to find potential diverse employees.

5. Create a diverse interview panel

A great step to mitigating racial bias in hiring and recruitment is having a diverse interview panel. And 68% of candidates believe diverse interview panels are vital for better hiring experiences. 

For instance, Cisco built a diverse interview panel framework that helped them improve the chances of hiring black candidates by 70%.

Image Source: Mapbox on Unsplash

“At Toggl, we prioritize assembling diverse interview panels comprising individuals from different experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. By including diverse voices in the interview process, we not only bring a range of perspectives to candidate evaluation but also demonstrate our commitment to building an inclusive workplace.

So, this approach helps minimize the risk of unconscious bias. And ensures the hiring decisions are made with a holistic understanding of candidates’ potential contributions to our team.” says Alari Aho, CEO at Toggl.

So here are 3 tips for building a diverse interview panel:

  • Offer diversity training

Diversity training is important for any person going to interview a candidate. 

So, even the most experienced HR experts need refresher training. For instance, train your interviewers on the questions to avoid asking. And show them the steps to doing a good interview.

  • Define the roles, skills, and diversity contributions of the panel

For your diverse interview panel to succeed, set them up for success by outlining their roles. For instance, panelist A assesses the candidates’ experience. Panelist B checks their work skillset and panelist C evaluates their work ethic.

And, consider the skills of each interviewer before you define their role.

  • Get feedback from your candidates

Get to know how your candidates feel about your panelist’s interviewing skills. To make it easy, create a form and share it with them after the interview.

So, after getting the feedback, put in place the required changes in the coming interviews.

6. Use blind recruitment screening

Blind recruitment screening is the process of removing any identification details from your applicants’ resume. This helps your hiring team evaluate the candidates based on their experience, and skills. 

For instance, a 2023 study by Monash University revealed that applicants with English-sounding names received more callbacks compared to candidates with minority-sounding names.

So here are ways to succeed at the blind recruitment strategy:

  • Use technology: Use blind recruitment tools. For example, a tool like Pinpoint can help anonymize resumes and applications to ensure your applicants get assessed based on their skills
  • Skill-based hiring: Consider changing your hiring strategy to only focus on the skills of your candidates. Use your ATS to filter resumes based on the keywords and skills you listed in your job description.

David Ciccarelli, CEO at Lake adds, “Skills-based hiring and skill assessments help us overcome our inherent and unconscious biases and create a fairer hiring process. However, for assessments to work well, they have to be tailored for every role. You must also validate them through testing on current employees, administer them consistently, and churn out anonymized results.

If you don’t follow the proper protocols, skills assessments may even perpetuate biases further. So it’s crucial to avoid “off-the-shelf” tests that aren’t relevant or fair.”

  • Standard application forms: Teach your hiring team to create a system that only collects information based on the job requirements while eliminating fields for names.
  • Ensure diversity among your resume reviewers: Consider a range of people of different races, backgrounds, and experiences to review the resumes.

After selecting your preferred candidates based on their skills, you can now reveal their information to continue with the in-person interviews.

7. Ask for referrals from your employee resource group

Before you start sourcing outside for employees of different races, consider how you can get help from the talent in your company. Employee referrals are a great way to get potential diverse talent.

To get the best referrals from your ERG do this:

  • Attend their meetings and inform them about your diversity goals and what you want to achieve.
  • Be specific about the departments you want to fill. For instance, you can say, “We want to recruit more Latino and black women for our design team.”
  • Attend the events and conferences of your ERGs. This will help you get potential candidates from different areas.

Lastly, create an employee referral program in your organization. This will enable every employee to refer potential candidates.

8. Standardize the interview process

Simply put, standardizing the interview process means applying the same hiring methods for all your applicants in the recruitment stage. 

So, this includes asking the same set of questions. And ensuring your decisions are based on merit and not the first impressions. Doing this helps prevent unconscious bias from creeping in.

Image Source

“For example, at my organization, we moved from unstructured interviews to putting in place a structured process. Hiring managers started using a standardized scorecard and asked the same list of questions developed by the HR team. 

This simple change improved the diversity of candidates advancing to the next round. By formalizing the process, we prevented bias and made decisions based on skills rather than gut reactions. “ says Gauri Manglik, CEO at Instrumentl.

Here are tips to set up a standardized structured interview process:

  • Be on the same page with your team

A standardized interview process will not work if all your hiring team members aren’t committed to the strategy.

For instance, if you have two recruiters interviewing candidates for the same job, and one uses an unstructured interview process and the other one a structured interview process, your efforts will fail. 

So it’s essential to sit with everyone on your team and explain why you need a structured interview process and its benefits.

  • Write the job description

A good job description will help you know the soft and hard skills you’ll be interviewing for. So list the most important skills the candidate will have to possess.

  • Create a standard interview guide

Now that you know the skills you’ll interview for, create an interview guide to ensure candidates are asked the same set of questions. Also, write the questions at this stage. 

After writing the questions, it’s ideal to also write the possible answers with a rating scale, from 1 to 5 to to assign scores to each answer. This will help you pick the most qualified candidate.

Plus, include instructions for the interviewers on how to conduct the interviews. For example, teach them how to take notes and ask follow-up questions. 

Finally, test and review the interview guide regularly to ensure it’s consistent.

9. Involve external experts to prevent racial bias in hiring

Partnering with external DEI experts can help you reduce the time it’ll take to achieve your goal of eliminating racial bias in hiring. Because these experts bring experience and specialized knowledge they’ve developed over the years.

So, here’s what DEI consultants can help you achieve according to Lilia Tovbin, CEO at BigMailer:

  • They can help you conduct racial bias training for your recruitment teams
  • Review your job descriptions to enhance inclusivity
  • Help build an employer brand to attract top diverse talent

And provide resources to help you in your DEI journey.

10. Stop evaluating candidates based on their years of experience

Evaluating candidates based on their years of experience is a qualification that builds teams of people with overrepresented backgrounds. 

Plus the number of years doesn’t usually reflect a candidate’s ability to succeed in the role.

Here are more reasons why it’s a bad qualification according to Natania Malin Gazek, principal diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant at  NMGazek Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consulting:

  • “People from historically marginalized, oppressed, and excluded groups might have fewer years of experience compared to their white colleagues. This could be because they couldn’t afford to take on unpaid internships. Because they had to work their way through school and pay down student debt or they didn’t have mentors to help them advance early in a role of their choice, or generally have had a systemic oppression working against them throughout their career and schooling. But most times they know how to work twice as hard, making them a top employee to your team quickly.
  • Secondly, people develop expertise at different paces. What one individual has learned how to do well over ten years, someone else might have developed that skill in five years.

So what should you evaluate for instead?

Next time you think you need a candidate with a minimum amount of experience, ask yourself:

  • What skills you’re hoping the candidate has developed during those years? 
  • Do you need someone who has managed a team through difficult periods? Someone who can navigate complicated political dynamics with stakeholder groups? Who is comfortable diving into a project mid-process and contributing right away? Who is very comfortable successfully navigating a specific cycle or process you go through routinely? 

Those are the actual qualifications you should be evaluating for. If someone has developed them in half the time you might have expected, great.”

11. Set diversity goals

To set diversity goals that can help you identify the representation of employees of different races, nationalities, and ethnic groups, choose a goal-setting framework.

Goal-setting frameworks are an excellent way to track and report your diversity goals. So to create an effective goal-setting framework, adopt the “SMART” acronym. Here are examples of how you can use the acronym to set your diversity goals, step by step:


Achieving a goal is easier if you break it down into small chunks. Plus set the goals as specific targets rather than general goals.

For instance instead of saying:

“This quarter we’ll achieve diversity in our organization.”


“We’ll improve the representation of black employees in management.”


If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So, include figures to make your goals measurable. Setting diversity goals backed by figures will help you stay on track.

For instance, instead of:

“We’ll increase the number of employees of color this year”.


“Our target is to hire 30% of employees of color this year”.


This step needs research. Use the numbers from your measures to set realistic goals for your company. 

For example, instead of:

“We’ll recruit 30% more black and Latino women employees in the next 6 months.”


“We’ll achieve 30% representation of black and Latino women employees in our organization. In New York City, most organizations have more than 30% representation of black and Latino women employees, so we can reach that figure too.”


This part ensures your diversity goals are aligned with your organization’s values.

Don’t say”

“We’ll hire more employees of color because we’re lacking employees of color in our organization”.


“Diverse teams are great at solving problems and are creative. That’s why our focus is on hiring more employees of color to increase diversity in our organization.”


Set a deadline for when you want to achieve your goal in a certain time. This will make it easier to track your progress.

Don’t say:

“Our goal is to achieve 20% representation of black employees in the long term.”


“By 2025, we’ll achieve 30% representation of black employees. By the end of 2024, we’ll increase that number from 13% to 20%.”

12. Regularly evaluate your process to prevent racial bias in hiring

Lastly, regularly assess your process to identify areas where racial bias in hiring remains. This includes monitoring the diversity of candidates that apply to your organization, tracking the number of diverse employees who get offered jobs, and gathering feedback from your diverse employees to know their experience so far.


Ongig’s mission is to support your commitment to writing inclusive job descriptions free of racial bias with our advanced Text Analyzer software. Book a demo today to learn how you can write inclusive job descriptions.


  1. Is there a glass ceiling for ethnic minorities to enter leadership positions? Evidence from a field experiment with over 12,000 job applications by (ScienceDirect)
  2. Ian Sells, the CEO at Million Dollar Sellers 
  3. Alari Aho, CEO at Toggl
  4. David Ciccarelli, CEO at Lake
  5. Gauri Manglik, CEO at Instrumentl
  6. Lilia Tovbin, CEO at BigMailer
  7. Natania Malin Gazek, principal diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant at  NMGazek Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consulting
  8. Diverse Representation Framework & Diverse Interview Panels by (CeoAction)
  9. Candidate interview and employer brand report by (Greenhouse)
  10. QuickFacts San Francisco city, California; United States by (United States Census Bureau)
  11. Systemic Discrimination Among Large U.S. Employers by (National Bureau of Economic Research)

by in Diversity and Inclusion