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Posts from Joshua Newville, a Minnesota employment lawyer, civil rights attorney, and mediator.

Eliminating Race Discrimination in the Hiring Process: Strategies for Success

Companies of all sizes and across industries are striving to be more inclusive in their hiring processes. Businesses recognize there is value in a diverse workforce. Yet many organizations struggle to evolve their hiring practices in ways that allow Black and Indigenous candidates and any other candidates of color to compete on a level playing field. Overt racism isn’t usually the culprit, though. Instead, the hiring process often has unconscious biases baked in, and these biases seep into recruiting, promotion and retention decisions.

man waiting for job interview

If you’re involved in hiring at your company and you desire to make your hiring process more inclusive, you may want to consider some of the strategies in this article.

1. Develop Awareness of Hiring Prejudices

You can’t begin to overcome unconscious bias until you and your employees are aware of the problem. One suggestion is to have ongoing conversations about biases with everyone who is involved in hiring at your company. Once you all understand the problem you’re trying to tackle, you can look into providing bias awareness training. For example, you could bring in a consultant to speak to management about racial bias in hiring and how to avoid it.

2. Consider Blind Resume Reviews

Several studies have shown that resumes featuring distinctively Black names are discarded at a higher rate relative to other resumes. One study found that applications with distinctively Black names were 10 percent less likely to get a call back than applicants with equivalent skills and experience with a distinctively white name. Consider using hiring software that hides names from resumes. These de-identified resume reviews can decrease the likelihood that qualified minority candidates get eliminated due to unconscious bias.

3. Sample Work Tests

You could ask job applicants to solve work-related problems or perform a short assignment that is similar to the work the job requires. This allows you to assess the quality of their work versus making unconscious judgments based on the candidates’ race, age or gender.

4. Set Diversity Goals

Diversity goals in hiring can be controversial as some people believe a person gets hired merely to help the company meet a quota. This can make life harder for the new hire. Yet, the research shows significant advantages for companies with diverse workforces. So, setting a goal (which is different from a quota) can still be useful, and it helps keep diversity and equity top of mind among hiring managers.

5. Standardize Interviews

You don’t want your interviews to feel robotic or methodical (that can turn off candidates and make them not want to work for you), but you do want to be able to get candidates to answer the same set of questions so you can compare their answers. Try to develop a set of interview questions that are straightforward and, more importantly, free of nuances that only people of certain racial or ethnic backgrounds would understand.

Get Advice About Avoiding Discrimination in Hiring

As an employment law attorney, my goal is to help businesses avoid legal problems in the first place. I would be happy to advise you regarding your hiring practices and do what I can to help ensure your hiring process is as free of racial bias as it can be. Contact my Minneapolis law firm at your convenience and let’s arrange a time to talk.


Joshua Newville is a Minnesota employment lawyer, civil rights attorney, and mediator. Josh litigates and advises on such matters as wrongful termination, whistleblowers, discrimination, police misconduct, and more. He offers paid legal consultations and free online case reviews regarding employment law and civil rights.

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