Here’s Why Interviewing Only One Woman for a Job Isn’t Enough

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Of late, the biggest buzzword we’ve been hearing in the workplace is diversity, a word that draws attention to the fact that most big companies have done very little to hire half the population. So when women or minorities are interviewed for jobs, what needs to be done to make sure they actually stand a chance of getting those jobs? A new study in the Harvard Business Review suggests a good place to start is bringing in more than one woman or minority candidate for an interview.

In a pool of four job finalists, when there is only one woman or minority being interviewed for a job, there was a statistical likelihood of 0 percent that the minority or woman would be hired. However, the HBR report says that the “results suggest that we can use bias in favor of the status quo to actually change the status quo … But when we created a new status quo among the finalist candidates by adding just one more woman or minority candidate, the decision makers actually considered hiring a woman or minority candidate.” When two women were considered in the pool of job candidates, the likelihood she’d be hired went up to 50 percent. 

So why is it so hard for managers to consider hiring a woman or minority when there is only one of either present in the interview process? “For one thing, it highlights how different she is from the norm. And deviating from the norm can be risky for decision makers, as people tend to ostracize people who are different from the group. For women and minorities, having your differences made salient can also lead to inferences of incompetence.”

No wonder white men are so butt hurt about workplace diversity. If they actually interviewed women and minorities for jobs, there’s actually a chance women and minorities would get hired.