New SkillSurvey Research Finds That Quality, Structured References Help Negate Gender Bias in Hiring

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BERWYN, PA — New research conducted by SkillSurvey recently examined how and whether reference checking impacts gender bias in hiring. The recently released research article published in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment examined job feedback from over 4 million reference providers on nearly 1 million job applicants.

In examining the quantitative results of these structured employment references, researchers found there was no significant effect of gender bias favoring male applicants over female applicants that could disproportionately affect hiring rates in real-world scenarios. Additionally, in a representative sample of 5,000 job applicants, the researchers analyzed the content of semi-structured verbatim comments (work-related strengths and areas of improvement) provided by four employment references per applicant. Results showed virtually no gender bias in the verbatim feedback. These findings suggest that highly structured, quantitative, and semi-structured, verbatim employment references are an effective tool in the advancement of fair and equitable staff selection practices.

The newly published peer-reviewed journal article was created in conjunction with Dr. Peter A. Fisher of Toronto Metropolitan University; Dr. Chet Robie of Wilfrid Laurier University; Dr. Cynthia A. Hedricks, Chief Analytics Officer of SkillSurvey; Leigh Puchalski, Research Assistant at SkillSurvey; and Dr. Disha D. Rupayana.

“Structured references provide hope for the multitude of female candidates who are still struggling to shatter the glass ceiling,” said Dr. Cynthia Hedricks, Chief Analytics Officer of SkillSurvey. “Our research has found that structured and even semi-structured references go a long way in minimizing gender bias across industries and job types, making structured references a powerful tool for both recruiters and organizations looking to hire equitably and meet their DE&I objectives.”

The complete research can be read here.

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