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News & Press: HR

10 Things We’ve Learned About Unbiased Hiring Practices at AAM

Friday, May 25, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
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Written by: Katherine McNamee

Last fall, I was a guest presenter in an AAM Webinar on unbiased hiring where I shared some blind screening techniques that we have begun incorporating into our hiring practices at AAM. With several recruitment efforts now concluded, my colleagues and I continue to reflect on the successes, challenges, and lessons learned as we experiment with ways to broaden the diversity of our applicant pools.

The make-up of the AAM staff is currently, and has traditionally been, largely female and white. Some have suggested that our staff is simply a reflection of the museum field at large, but as my colleagues and I learn more about the impact of unintentional bias, we wondered how this may be influencing our recruiting efforts. This question led us to re-visit our recruitment process and to the creation of a goal to adapt recruitment practices that 1) encourage under-represented candidates to apply and 2) ensure that we are consistently evaluating each candidate on the appropriate criteria (relevant skills needed for the job.)

Confession #1

I’ll admit that the idea of overhauling our recruitment process through this new lens of mitigating bias seemed daunting at first. After all, I had carefully crafted a recruitment system designed to deliver a fair and consistent experience for candidates. With detailed templates, suggested best practices and guidelines to outline the process, it also provided efficiency in managing multiple searches simultaneously. This process had served us well (or so I thought) for many years. Initially, I found myself overwhelmed simply deciding where to begin.

Confession #2

If you asked our hiring managers at AAM about our hiring practices, most would tell you they were working well for us. They would probably point to our talented, dedicated and productive staff as proof. In fact, over the years, managers have expressed appreciation for AAM’s established and systematic approach to hiring and the representation of staff from a variety of sectors (non-profit, museum, and private sector) that our system has produced. Given their general satisfaction, I wondered how we would make the case for changing our process? As any manager who has been short-staffed knows, the pressure to fill a vacancy urgently is strong and I feared it would be all too easy to slip into our “default” operating mode rather than making the effort to incorporate new practices.

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