How Anthem is Driving Bias Out of Its Talent-Acquisition Process

Tracy Edmonds is leading the charge to ensure bias doesn't shortchange candidates or the company.
By: | September 27, 2018 • 3 min read
Creative group of business people brainstorming putting sticky notes on glass wall in office

Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. recently made its eighth consecutive appearance on the DiversityInc Top 50 list. This award follows Anthem’s recent recognitions by Forbes as one of America’s Best Employers; placement on Veteran Recruiting’s VetFriendly Top Ten Employers List and the “Best Places to Work” for LGBT equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

What’s the company’s secret to success?

We spoke with Anthem Chief Diversity Officer Tracy Edmonds to find out. Edmonds, one of the panelists at the Glassdoor Recruit event held today in Chicago, says the company wanted to address unconscious bias and keep it out of its hiring process.

“We know that unconscious bias plays a role in many decisions made throughout the talent lifecycle,” says Edmonds. “We wanted to ensure our employees are armed with information at the moment they’re making these decisions.”

Information in “Bite-Size Chunks”

Edmonds and her team introduced an e-learning program created by the NeuroLeadership Institute called “Decide: The Neuroscience of Breaking Bias,” which includes a series of five-minute videos about some of the more common biases that can creep into the decision-making process around hiring, promoting and succession. Each video is accompanied by a one-page outline summarizing things to watch out for.


“Providing information in bite-size chunks—that’s the idea,” she says.

The team started off with Anthem’s 250 top leaders, offering them the training first. “Our approach was to not make this mandatory—we didn’t want it to be the chief diversity officer saying ‘Thou shalt not be biased!’ ” says Edmonds. “We wanted to present this as a tool that would help them make better talent decisions.”

The feedback was phenomenal, she says. “These were busy executives who said to me candidly ‘I wasn’t looking forward to this, but I ended up getting so much value from it,’ and ‘We didn’t think it would be so easy!’ ”

A key to the program’s success, says Edmonds, was its brevity and simplicity.

After the organization’s top leaders, the program was cascaded down through Anthem’s various business units, with the executives who’d already participated serving as champions, she says. It started last summer and continues to be introduced to new leaders.

Structured Candidate Interviews 

It’s far from the only thing Anthem is doing to keep bias out of its talent processes. Edmonds has also looked closely at candidate interviews, where bias often creeps in, she says.