COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of millions worldwide. It is estimated that unemployment in the US alone will hit 32% — that’s 47 million recent graduates, experienced professionals, minorities, and overseas professionals.1 There is no doubt companies will start to hire skilled and unskilled labour in substantial numbers as we pull through this crisis. But, the ‘new-normal’ presents new challenges for Human Resource (HR) managers. Ethnicity and race-based biases have become more entrenched — all while marginalized communities are suffering disproportionately from the impacts of the virus itself.
As we rebuild from COVID-19, individual and group identities will emerge based on one’s experience during the crisis. It might then become far too easy for us to judge others based on their past behavior; for example, compliance with quarantine rules, actual infection status, race,2 and perhaps most importantly, job status during the crisis. Such information could create pitfalls that HR managers may find themselves in when evaluating candidates.
Research shows that person-organization fit and person-job fit are established predictors of performance.3 However, these fits don’t always occur because of large informational asymmetries between organizations and job aspirants.4 For example, job applicants may be influenced by a range of factors including perceived job value, perceptions of interview performance, cultural norms, beliefs and interests, and even the wording of the job posting itself. Conversely, the recruiting team may unconsciously attribute certain qualities to specific demographics, and may have an affinity for people with characteristics similar to those who they are familiar with. From this, applicants may be discriminated against on account of their race, gender, or other demographic factors, including where they live or go to school.5,6