You need to have a 'No Arsehole' rule. If someone is known to be difficult to work with, don't hire them.

Gender inequality remains a challenge in many workplaces. Managers, irrespective of gender, are twice as likely to hire a man compared to a woman [1]. As a consequence, women remain largely underrepresented in the workplace. This is especially so in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with women comprising only 16% of Australia’s STEM employees [2]. The result is economic and social inequality between men and women. Equitable performance and hiring systems are critical in reducing the gender disparity in workplaces and leadership roles.


How do hiring and promotion work?


Organizational recruitment [3] refers to the process of attracting competent and interested individuals from the external job market to fill a vacancy. Throughout the recruitment process there are many factors that affect applicants’ organizational attractiveness and their probability of accepting a job offer. Prior research [4] has shown factors in recruitment vary in their impact on applicant progress at different stages of recruitment. During early stages, such as the initial interview, the following factors were significantly associated with applicant reactions:

  • demographic characteristics e.g., recruiter age, educational degree, recruiting experience, job type;

  • interview characteristics e.g., degree of interview structure, tendency to tell applicants how they were evaluated;

  • applicants’ perceptions of recruiter empathy.

During later stages of the recruitment process, job attributes (e.g., job location, salary, title) were more important in understanding applicant reactions.


Once embedded within an organisation, existing employees may also proactively pursue a job promotion [5] within the company. This can also be a result of good employees’ job performance.


Job performance [6] refers to the expected organizational value of an employee. This plays an important role in defining the company’s success. Cooperative, hard-working and dependable employees are more effective in their work, which positively affects organizational performance.


How are hiring and promotion decisions gender-biased?


Gender inequality is an issue for both hiring and promotion decisions. Prior research has shown that women are less frequently employed in jobs that offer promotion possibilities [7]. This is especially the case after taking parental leave; although high-achieving men and women share similar levels of ambition in the workplace and at home, it is women who are more likely to be rerouted into roles that are seen as more “family-friendly”, but are also less challenging and offer less opportunities for career growth and promotion [8].

In Academia

In Industry

Participative (democratic)[4]

Succession planning and leadership development


Succession planning [16] and Leadership development [17] are two fundamental processes for assessing and developing the leadership talent of an organization [18]. To ensure success in this area, organisations must consider the following key aspects [19][20]:

  • Measure and monitor regular progress, focusing on rapid, radical, and continuous change

  • Increase complex challenges

  • Offer greater leadership responsibilities at lower levels (task migration [21])

  • Recruit and retain the best talent and identify linchpin positions (i.e., those jobs that are important to the long-term health of the organization)

  • Be flexible and transparent


However, there are various obstacles that often get in the way of successful succession planning, such as:

  • Event-based or episodic thinking [19]
    Succession planning is an on-going process and is embedded in all kinds of work activities and behaviours. It should not be addressed episodically.

  • Over-embedding the initiative within a single champion
    Companies often have a “champion” who is the driver for success. This can cause disruptions if that person derails the initiative or leaves the organisation without an appropriate successor.

  • Not connecting development with strategic business imperatives
    Don’t try to develop just for development’s sake. Identify what specifically needs to be developed and why.

  • Under-emphasizing the personal accountability
    There should be personal accountability and follow-up. Ensuring that accountability and follow ups are part of the process leads to learning and development becoming a continuous, intentional processes.

  • Lack of fit with organizational culture [22]
    Poor fit with organizational culture can lead to resistance or out right hostility when implementing succession management initiatives.

  • Lack of adequate support for development
    Individual development requires all sorts of resources, such as positive reinforcement. Returning to a supportive environment ensures that positive development is further encouraged and implemented.

Strategies for making hiring processes more inclusive


The Universities Australia Executive Women (UAEW) group and Jo Fisher, managing director of Fisher Leadership, developed a set of recruitment guidelines to ensure gender diversity in the workforce [24]. These guidelines are categorised along four broad recruitment stages:


  • Ensure workforce planning and readiness for diversity

  • (Re)define role specifications

  • Apply gender-neutral language in candidate information

  • Broaden selection criteria

  • Emphasize capabilities

  • Assess values, cultural, and motivational fit

Example gender-neutral language: Consider language in your job advertisements that unconsciously discourages men or women from applying e.g., for a teaching role, avoid using the words “nurturing”, “caring”, “warm” as this may discourage male applicants. In contrast, for a consultant job, avoid using the words “assertive’ or “competitive”; women may feel that they do not fit the job description [25].



  • Apply gender diversity attraction strategies

  • Ensure transparent and diverse advertising approaches

  • Encourage internal candidates

  • Consider using an executive search firm

  • Allow time for passive candidates to come forward

Example targeted advertising: A company can use targeted recruitment to encourage applicants from a specific group (e.g., women). Previous research showed that a modified job advertisement targeting applicants with disabilities doubled the number of applicants from that group [26].



  • Ensure diverse membership of selection panels

  • Offer training in addressing unconscious bias in the interview phase

  • Provide candidate support

  • Evaluate and assess practices

  • Ensure short listing with the selection panel

  • Select and reference the preferred candidate

  • Clarify candidate offer and contract negotiation

Example effectiveness of unconscious bias training: Unconscious bias trainings can be used to address the impact of unconsciously held beliefs about social and demographic differences that can affect workplaces decisions. Unconscious bias training has shown to be effective in increasing people’s self-efficacy and intentions that led to diversity-supportive behaviours [25][26]. 


Appointment and integration

  • Review candidate experience and make pre-appointment

  • Prepare appointment and induction process

  • Invest in integration program

  • Aim for retention by agreeing on a development plan for the employee)

  • Build leadership talent pipelines and succession planning processes

Example Gender Integration Framework: FHI 360 developed a Gender Integration Framework [27]. Gender integration requires applied strategies in program planning, assessment, design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The framework challenges gender-based inequalities and strives to transform gender norms and increase gender equality.


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