The Power of Merit: An Inclusive Approach

BY Emma Thelwell   |  

By removing barriers and unconscious biases, we can build higher-performing teams with diverse perspectives and experiences.


The foundation of an inclusive recruitment strategy is merit-based hiring practices. This means hiring decisions are based solely on a candidate's qualifications, skills, and ability to perform the job duties - not on characteristics like sexual orientation, race, gender, age, or other factors that are unrelated to job performance. This type of hiring allows us to select the best candidates while avoiding discrimination.

True merit-based hiring requires actively identifying and addressing unconscious biases that can seep into the process. It’s important to understand that we all have ingrained biases based on our backgrounds, experiences, and assumptions. The key is becoming aware of these biases and taking steps to counter them.

Here are some tactics we use to reduce unconscious bias and facilitate inclusive, merit-based hiring:


Job Descriptions: Use inclusive job descriptions to ensure the language is neutral and does not contain any subtle biases or cues that could inadvertently discourage certain groups from applying. Avoid gender-coded words or phrases that reinforce stereotypes.


Expand Recruiting Channels: Go beyond traditional recruiting channels to source diverse candidate pools. Partner with organisations, universities, and community groups to expand your reach.


Structured Interviews: Using a consistent set of questions asked the same way to all candidates levels the playing field. This prevents interviewers from inadvertently judging some candidates more critically based on bias.


Use Skills-Based Assessments: In addition to interviews, incorporate skills assessments or work sample tests that directly evaluate a candidate's abilities related to the role. These objective evaluations can reduce bias by focusing solely on demonstrated skills.


Ask Behaviourally-Based Interview Question: Behaviourally-based interview questions that ask candidates to describe specific examples of how they have demonstrated certain skills or handled situations can provide more objective insights into their true qualifications.


Unconscious Bias Training: In addition to interview training, offer unconscious bias training specifically tailored to hiring managers who are making recruitment decisions. Unconscious biases are the subtle, often unnoticed, preferences and prejudices that can influence our decisions. This training will allow people to understand the issue in order to recognise and mitigate it.


Diverse Hiring Panels: Having a mix of interviewers evaluating candidates from different backgrounds and perspectives can counter any single person's potential bias.


By taking a structured approach to remove opportunities for unconscious bias, we can focus solely on each candidate's job qualifications and merit. This opens up the opportunity to access a wider talent pool and select the best person for each role.


Ultimately, the most innovative and high-performing teams are built through inclusive, merit-based hiring practices. At MBA, we are committed to these values as a moral and ethical imperative, and because we know it leads to better business outcomes. I encourage other companies to examine their hiring processes and take steps toward inclusivity as well.



BACK TO NEWS Go to Next Blog