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Building fairer recruitment through D&I policy, part two


In recent years we’ve seen companies dial up their DE&I initiatives – and rightly so. But the impact of those initiatives is hindered when they are not properly implemented. While people support policies that would create a more diverse workplace, we find that they sometimes fail to put them into practice when making selection decisions. We set out to help businesses uncover how this gap between policies and individual hiring decisions happens, understand why and bridge it, so that they may make progress on their DE&I goals.

For many employers, improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a key priority, with the goal of working towards fairer organisations. But too often hiring and promotion practice does not reflect policy. Implementation must be monitored to ensure DE&I policies are understood and followed, find Emma Levine and David Munguia Gomez

Catch up on part one of this article before reading the below here.

From research to reality

So, what can HR departments do to become more aware of the trade-off they’re making by prioritising microjustice over macrojustice? What can they do to understand whether their leaders and executives are being guided by a sense of fairness that clashes with the one that HR decision-makers try to follow?

Getting D&I right:

Diversity and inclusion: don’t underestimate those quick changes

Diversity, equity and inclusion heads need consistency

HR must realise the difference between fitting in and belonging

The first step is to improve communication and education, ensuring decision-makers at all levels of the company are aware a gap may exist. A recent example of how this discrepancy in decision-making around hiring can play out has been seen with Lenovo, the global tech and computing company.

Arthur Hu, senior vice president and CIO commented that hiring managers across different geographies did not necessarily “have the same understanding around what diversity and inclusion mean” and that it was assumed that employees across the business would understand diversity and inclusion the same way it is understood in the US.

This illustrates how this kind of gap can exist between high-level people in an organisation and those responsible for hiring.

USAID’s Engendering Industries Program offers a simple illustration of steps organisations can take to avoid such a gap. It provides helpful advice to assist businesses in achieving gender equality objectives, offering straightforward guidance like dos and don’ts to assist senior leadership and HR experts in developing customised policies, for example: do examine comprehension of the policies and if they are being implemented or used effectively, don’t think that it is enough to claim that increasing gender equality is fair or moral.

Today, improving DE&I is a key priority, but creating policies that reflect this priority is just one piece of the puzzle. Implementation must also be closely watched to ensure that the values underlying this priority are understood and followed.


Emma Levine is associate professor of behavioural science and Charles E Merrill Faculty Scholar, University of Chicago Booth School of Business. David Munguia Gomez is a doctoral student in the behavioral science programme at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. 

The full article of the above first appeared in the November/December 2022 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.