Over third of UK firms not training hiring managers to ditch 'unconscious bias'. iStock

Over a third of UK hiring managers have not received any training in unconscious bias best-practice as part of the recruitment processes in their current company, according to new research.

A survey conducted by global recruitment and workplace solutions provider Adecco, of 504 senior UK hiring managers, found that 39% of those polled had not received any training on mitigating unconscious bias.

This is despite the largest number of respondents (26%) thinking that having regular training would be the most effective way to eliminate unconscious bias, as part of the recruitment process, for a more inclusive diverse workforce.

It was followed by 17% who think that removing age from résumés would have the biggest impact.

Adecco's research also revealed that two years since then UK Prime Minister David Cameron launched a pledge to tackle discrimination by recruiting on a 'name blind' basis, over half (65%) of organisations are still not using blind résumés.

In fact, if forced to remove one piece of information from résumés, more than double would remove hobbies (23%) rather than names (8%) to tackle unconscious bias. Furthermore, just 10% of respondents think that removing pictures on résumés would help people to make unbiased decisions in the recruitment process.

Alex Fleming, president of general staffing at Adecco (UK and Ireland), opined that despite unconscious bias being as big an issue as ever, too many organisations are still not taking active steps to tackle the problem.

"Training hiring managers in unconscious bias practice and using blind CVs are relatively easy actions for organisations to take, so it's concerning that their deployment remains relatively low."

Surprisingly, considering the relatively low adoption of traditional methods, a fifth (20%) of companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) or technology to help eliminate unconscious bias. A further 25% are not currently using AI or technology but are looking to introduce it as part of the recruitment process, Adecco's research revealed.

Fleming interpreted the usage of AI as positive. "The fact that we are seeing businesses turn to AI and technology to help tackle unconscious bias as part of the recruitment process is encouraging. With many people having questioned the effectiveness of other tactics, such as blind CVs, this might prove a more successful long-term solution."

However, the Adecco executive cautioned that until the new technology becomes established, organisations must continue to actively introduce other measures, including unconscious bias training, to ensure they are always hiring the best person for the job.