Male Champions of Change aim to achieve gender equality and accelerate the advancement of more women into leadership positions. We strive for gender balance – 40:40:20 (40% men, 40% women and 20% open) – at all levels of our organisations. This commitment is grounded in a core belief: to attract, recruit, retain and promote the best candidates, and to reap the diversity dividend, we must tap into the full talent pool.
‘Targets with teeth’ are essential to deliver results. But even with targets we risk missing out on the best candidates unless we understand and remove the biases that may be hidden in the way we recruit and develop talent.
In 2016, Chief Executive Women and Male Champions of Change released In the Eye of the Beholder: Avoiding the Merit Trap. This outlined how biases can influence the way merit is understood and applied.
‘Merit’ is often defined by the status quo. It also reinforces the status quo. In the Eye of the Beholder showed that adhering to an un-interrogated idea of merit offers limited opportunity for us to examine biases. It also reinforces the idea that gender inequality is only about supply side problems rather than demand-related issues too.
As a result, organisations miss out on the best talent and fish in an ever-diminishing pool of candidates – one that fails to reflect the community our organisations serve. If we continue to define ‘merit’ as people ‘like us’ who have done what we did, we will get more of the same. In the Eye of the Beholder offered examples of efforts to counter this and deliver something much closer to real meritocracy.
This toolkit goes a step further, breaking down the touchpoints in recruitment and promotion processes where bias might influence – from identifying talent in our organisations, drafting job descriptions, to offering a role – and identifying what we can do to interrupt bias when attracting, recruiting and retaining the best candidates.
The Property Male Champions of Change led the development of this toolkit, working with members from across our coalition. The toolkit details lessons learnt from in-depth reviews of our recruitment, promotion and talent processes and feedback from people in member organisations. It offers examples of high-impact actions that others can try, especially when recruiting and promoting talent, and during talent development.
We continue to evolve our approaches as we trial new ideas, test new approaches and learn from experience. We thank the many talented women and men in our organisations who have contributed to this work and continue to inspire us to do better.