Equality and diversity in selection

Selection Action navigation

This section will provide guidance on the process you have followed once you have decided which candidate you would like to appoint.


Equality and diversity is at the forefront of what we do. We are proud to be a Stonewall Top 100 employer and part of schemes like Athena Swan. Equality and diversity is most important in key organisational areas like the selection of new staff. If we want to be a diverse organisation we need to recruit a range of different people. There are a variety of ways to integrate equality and diversity values with selection process, from being aware of unconscious bias to including measures that ensure candidates from under-represented groups (in your department or academic field) are seen at selection.

Tackling unconscious bias

Unconscious bias affects everyone, no matter how progressive you think you are. This is why it is called unconscious bias, because even if your conscious mind has a series of progressive beliefs, your unconscious mind may not. Unconscious bias leads you to make judgements about people based on their appearance and key characteristics. Tackling this is about recognising your inbuilt prejudices and challenging them. It is also about challenging those on the same panel as you if they are inclined to make a decision on the basis of unconscious (or conscious) bias.

For more information on unconscious bias and how to tackle it see the unconscious bias homepage.

Making sure you have a representative panel

A more diverse panel will lead to better decisions and better confrontation of unconscious bias. Where possible you should always seek to have a panel that is diverse in terms of characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, nationality and socio-economic background. This is not always possible, but is a good position to strive for. You may wish to actually include measures that ensure some diversity. This could tackle key problem areas, such as ensuring women panel members on STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) panels or Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members on Arts and Humanities panels. Not only do measures like these help us recruit more diverse staff members they also show candidates that we are a staff body proud of our diversity. Be careful to not overburden certain staff members when including measures like this. It is not fair to expect someone to sit on almost every selection panel in your department, even if they are happy to do so.

Including measures in selection that address specific problems

Some people are extremely wary of the notion of 'positive discrimination' either from a legal or moral perspective. Positive discrimination is not about giving under-qualified people jobs, it is about making sure you are giving applicants from under-represented groups a chance to impress you. We know that members of some groups are more likely to get a job interview when they may not actually be any better than other candidates. For example it has been proven that men write job applications with a lot more optimism than women and are therefore more likely to present themselves as better qualified for a job than a woman applicant, regardless of whether they are or not! Therefore there is nothing wrong with including selection measures that seek to 'level the playing field', whilst still choosing your best candidate at the end.

Examples of current measures in the University: 

  • The University-wide two Disability Confident scheme ensures that if a self-identified disabled candidate shows through their application that they meet all the Essential criteria for a job then they must be shortlisted for an interview. For more information of this scheme please see the Disability Confident homepage.
  • Some STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) departments actively use measures that ensure women applicants are interviewed. One example is using a stipulation that requires shortlists to have at a minimum an equal number of female candidates as the original applicant pool. This links in with the wider Athena Swan agenda, which you can find out about more on the Athena Swan homepage.
  • The Department of Philosophy uses a process of making applications anonymous before they are considered by the panel. This allows them to assess applications based on their merit and not any perception of a candidates characteristics. This rules out the possibility of positive discrimination, but does effectively tackle unconscious bias.

If you are planning on including any new measures in your selection process then it is crucial that you discuss this with your Faculty HR team first, to ensure that it is compliant with employment law.