Firm tackles hiring bias

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Hall & Wilcox is undertaking a new program to stamp out unconscious bias in recruiting.

The initiative includes the participation of a range of government agencies, accounting firms and banks, is run by the Victorian government off the back of research by ANU, which showed that equal candiates from culturally diverse backgrounds, often had to submit many more applications before getting an interview.

“We are still finalising the details of the pilot however we will be implementing a process to remove a range of key identifying details from candidate applications such as name and address with a view to tackling unconscious bias in recruitment,” partner Anastasia Coutsouvelis told Australasian Lawyer.
“The pilot will be supported by training to address unconscious bias.”

Hall & Wilcox is the only law firm which has taken up the pilot program, and has done so as a strategy to increase diversity, starting with the firm’s seasonal clerk recruitment.

“The evidence shows that unconscious bias actually hinders company performance,” said managing partner Tony Macvean.

“Greater diversity is the way forward, and this has been backed up time and again by research.”

Research from the Diversity Council of Australia shows that cultural diversity in the workplace leads to greater productivity and innovation.

“Higher executive and board diversity in companies produced equity returns that were 53% higher and gross earnings that were 14% higher than those with low levels of diversity,” a Victorian government statement on the program said.

“By being involved in this great Victorian Government initiative we hope to learn more about how unconscious bias works and how to overcome it in hiring decisions,” said Coutsouvelis.

“We look forward to learning what kind of processes can help eliminate unconscious bias, and ultimately we hope to gain an edge in our recruitment.”