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In the study by recruiting experts Hays in conjunction with diversity and employee survey specialists, Insync, 1029 hiring managers were asked to review a CV then answer a series of questions about the candidate’s attributes, skills and probability they would be interviewed. 515 reviewed the CV of ‘Susan’ and 514 reviewed an identical CV but for one notable change – the name was altered to ‘Simon’.
The study found:
More recruitment experience means more bias
- Survey respondents who hire more than 20 people a year were more likely to interview ‘Simon’ over ‘Susan’ (65 per cent versus 51 per cent).
- For hiring managers who recruited less regularly, the gap between ‘Susan’ and ‘Simon’ reduced to just 3 per cent.
The bigger the business the bigger the bias
- 62 per cent of respondents from organisations with over 500 staff said it was extremely probable that they would interview ‘Simon’; 56 per cent would interview ‘Susan’.
- In organisations with less than 500 staff this interview bias almost disappears.
We prefer candidates just like us – but still hire more men
- Female respondents said ‘Susan’ matched 14 of the 20 attributes needed for the job extremely well, but ‘Simon’ only matched 6 of the 20 attributes extremely well.
- Men said ‘Simon’ matched 14 of the 20 attributes extremely well, but ‘Susan’ matched only 6 of the 20 attributes extremely well.
- Despite this, both genders were significantly more likely to interview and hire ‘Simon’ rather than ‘Susan’.
Public and not-for-profit bias towards women
- 31 per cent of public and not-for-profit respondents said ‘Simon’ had the leadership skills to do the job, compared to 42 per cent in the private sector.
- Public and not-for-profit sector respondents were also more likely to see ‘Susan’ rather than ‘Simon’ as having the technical skills (36 per cent versus 30 per cent) and leadership skills (39 per cent versus 31 per cent) to perform the role.
Organisations are still not serious (enough) about gender diversity
- 56 per cent of hiring managers said plans and resources need to be put in place or improved to help achieve gender diversity in their organisation.
- 44 per cent said their CEO is not serious enough about achieving gender diversity in their organisation.
- 39 per cent said their senior executives need to be better role models of diversity and inclusiveness.
Implications for the world of work
“At Hays, we’ve seen countless cases of hiring managers who are presented with a gender diverse shortlist but select more men than women for interview,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.
“Few would admit to bias but our survey results show it does exist – particularly in Australia’s largest businesses.
“It is also more likely in those who hire most frequently. This is an interesting finding since unconscious bias is more likely to impact decisions that are made quickly. Such managers would say they rely on their experience but possibly their decisions are less deliberate and therefore when an unconscious bias exists it affects their hiring decisions. In comparison, people who do not have as much hiring experience are more considered in their decisions.
“We also found that there is bias towards women in the public and not-for-profit sector and men in the private sector. This reinforces stereotypes of women being better at ‘taking care’ and men at ‘doing business’ and ‘being decisive’.
“Having unconscious beliefs isn’t the problem”, says Nicholas Barnett, CEO at Insync. “All of us have them to some extent. Not knowing we have them, not acknowledging them and not seeking to challenge them is a problem. Research actually shows that people who say they don’t have unconscious beliefs make more biased decisions than those who acknowledge their unconscious beliefs.”
Nick Deligiannis says: “This study also shows that more needs to be done to educate hiring managers around gender diversity policies and to get commitment from senior executives to openly support gender diversity. But no amount of gender diversity policy promotion will, in isolation, overcome gender or affinity bias.
Certainly there are still questions to answer, but we hope our findings are a catalyst that sparks continued and important dialogue about gender diversity in Australia.”
For more, see the Hays/Insync report