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When you’re sick with a cold, you end up having some time to read and I came across a recent study of hiring practices of about 100 of the largest companies nationwide.

Published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers sent 80,000 résumés to 10,000 jobs from 2019 to 2021. Ultimately, the authors found evidence that some protected groups were not faring as well in hiring as the majority.

For example, as The New York Times reported earlier this week, “On average, they found, employers contacted the presumed white applicants 9.5 percent more often than the presumed Black applicants.”

Of course, this is not the same across all companies. One company was found to favor white applicants 43 percent more often while some companies had no differences between white and black applicants.

The study also looked at other protected characteristics and found less differences in some areas like gender (again, at some companies) but found troubling differences elsewhere.

I’m not going to begin to do the entire study justice so I’ll leave a full recap to others.

But there are a few takeaways from my review and from the summary that the NYT highlights that all companies can learn from this audit study.

First, no matter how strong your policies are, if those doing the hiring aren’t acting in accordance with those anti-discrimination policies, you’ve got to rethink your approach. With AI is being considered by some companies, that may not solve all issues if the AI software isn’t audited and tested as well.

Second, as the NYT notes, “several common measures — like employing a chief diversity officer, offering diversity training or having a diverse board — were not correlated with decreased discrimination in entry-level hiring, the researchers found. But one thing strongly predicted less discrimination: a centralized H.R. operation.” Thus, pay attention to how your human resources department is run.

Third, at some companies that performed well in the study, centralized recruitment teams and consistent review processes seem to work best. Other companies emphasize diversity among its recruiters.

Fourth, the study found that companies that are subject to more regulatory scrutiny, like federal contractors, seem to have solved the riddle of hiring. Part of it is certainly a dedication of resources to checking and auditing hiring practices.

To be sure, there are limits to this research. The authors only looked at entry-level positions and again, only looked at large companies. So there’s reason to think that results may differ from company to company and position to position.

But regardless, companies of all sizes should be mindful to check their preconceptions at the door and ensure that its hiring processes are free from bias.