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DEI in practice: reduce bias with a ranked criteria job analysis


Calls for diversity and inclusion in the workplace have increased exponentially.

HR professionals must step up to reinforce inclusion not just in words or through check boxes, but in active and evident practice.

In fact, in in a recent study, management consultancy McKinsey & Co went so far as to state that DEI practices are no longer “a nice to have” and that companies who still consider it a “luxury we cannot afford” could risk losing their right to operate.

In today’s talent market everybody is looking for new ways to make the best hiring and promotion decisions. There are many examples of companies with strong DEI practices delivering higher revenue, generating faster innovation, and attracting a better talent pool.

So how can a business incorporate DEI practices in its hiring? One way is to apply “decision intelligence” to the job analysis at the beginning of any recruiting process.


Call to action for businesses

Current events such as the climate crisis and rise of global immigration, the covid pandemic, large-scale political changes such as Brexit – and more directly the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements – have all increased focus on minority groups and socio-economic disparities.

Businesses have an important role to play in all this and are increasingly being expected to take leadership and ownership of DEI matters in the workplace. In a sentiment study by the ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View, three-quarters of respondents (76%) said they would consider looking for a new job if they discovered their company had an unfair gender pay gap or no diversity and inclusion policy.

In Deloitte’s 2022 research on millennials and Gen Z, over one-third of participants reported rejecting a job or assignment because it clashed with their personal ethics. Of those in senior positions, almost half (46%) turned down a job or assignment for the same reason.

But anyone who has worked with implementing or applying DEI practices, will know that there is no one stop shop where you simply buy a solution that boosts diversity, manages equity, or drives inclusion in your workplace.

But the good news is that we are fast building evidence-based solutions that can help drive scalable change. One such way is through what is referred to as “decision intelligence”. In this blogpost we will look at applying decision intelligence in the job analysis – to support better, less-biased decisions in hiring and promotion.


What is a job analysis and why is it important?

A job analysis is the process used to identify the tasks, responsibilities, skills, and objectives for a specific role. It is typically used to put together the job description for recruiting processes. However, a good job analysis should also include expectations, goals, skills and competencies, onboarding expectations and performance review information.

A good job analysis is important because it not only means the employee is then fully informed on how to perform well in the role, but managers and leaders can also refer to it for determining the role’s value to the team and the organisation as a whole.


The ranked criteria job analysis

Recruiting for most roles is often stressful and overwhelming for all parties involved. It can be a time-consuming process that is both intellectually and emotionally demanding.

So, it’s no surprise then that many resort to sticking to what is familiar and “safe” – and ultimately fastest and easiest. Often old job descriptions are pulled out of the draw and familiar advertising channels and selection processes are adopted.

However, according to decision intelligence research, a strategic approach – whereby a list of pre-determined, prioritised qualifications is put together – can not only help ensure you hire the right person for the job today (and not what it was a few years ago), but it can help limit bias.

Co-chair of the Executive Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys at Harvard Law School, Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, argues that by creating clear, succinct lists of qualifications, you essentially create a set of focal points that can steer decision-makers away from race, gender, and socioeconomic background.

Such a strategy should generate diverse sets of options and can be used with a range of position types.


How it works:

  • The hiring group agree on five to 10 qualifications, covering both technical skills requirements as well as business and or leadership instinct and knowledge. These qualifications are then ranked by importance.
  • During the interviews, the goal is for each qualification and candidate to stand on its own merit, and thus block any prior influences having an impact on the assessment.
  • After the interviews, the interviewer can assign a high, medium, or low rating. For example, in hiring a marketing manager, writing and leadership might be ranked as the two top skills, while graphic design might be ranked lower.
  • When assessing the group of candidates, those who scored high on more important factors would end up higher on the selection list than those who scored high on lesser prioritised qualifications. This would allow those candidates who demonstrated the most important skills for the job to surface.

Going through such a process will force assessors to focus separately on each area and score it individually. It will help to judge an interview in a more balanced way and to keep focus on elements that are core to the job – as opposed to any unconscious biases or prejudgments that we likely carry.


For more on DEI watch our webinar Diversity Equity and Inclusion – how to ask the hard questions and get started. The session is part of our webinar series “Tackling the talent crisis: 3 sessions to inspire your recruiting and retention strategies for 2023”.

Aleya Begum Lonsetteig

Aleya Begum Lonsetteig, 13 December 2022

Aleya Begum Lønsetteig is content marketing manager at CatalystOne. Her background is in journalism, business, and marketing across different sectors, with a focus on SaaS organisations more recently. She is passionate about communication and helping companies develop marketing strategies through continuous learning.

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