Majority of leaders across Asia considered biased in their hiring process, Hays diversity & Inclusion Report finds


Organisations across Asia have been ramping up their efforts to mitigate bias in their recruitment selection process in the last year. However, the latest Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) report by leading recruitment experts Hays revealed that most employees across Asia still believe business leaders carry a bias towards hiring people who look, think or act like them.

The findings of the 2019/2020 version of this annual report are based on survey responses from close to 2000 working professionals based in China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. The survey covered personal experiences of the respondents with D&I in their workplaces, as well as their perceptions of its practice within and impact on their organisations.


A need for unbiased and diverse leadership

47 per cent of respondents across Asia felt that greater D&I practices in the workplace could have the most positive impact on the ‘recruitment of best talent’. However, the implementation of this is still lacking, with 52 per cent of respondents having felt that their age, gender, ethnicity or other D&I factors had led to their changes of being selected for a job being lowered. This discrepancy could be attributed to bias in leadership, with 59 per cent of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing that leaders in their organisation has a bias towards hiring people who look think and act like them.

An overall trend of improvement

However, individual indicators of organisations applying D&I practices to employee selection have been positive and mostly in line with the expectations of their employees. For example, 75 per cent of respondents believed that ensuring interview panels are diverse would positively impact diverse hiring, with 62 per cent or organisations already practicing this. Similarly, 74 per cent of respondents voted for involving a range of diverse stakeholders for the review and selection of CV or application forms; which is practiced by 66 per cent of organisations.


In Hong Kong SAR: Awareness on the rise but leadership bias remains

While employees and organisations in Hong Kong are increasingly aware of the importance of D&I in the workplace, a primary area to be improved upon is company leadership. 59 per cent of employees agreed that organisation leaders had a bias towards hiring people who look, think or act like them.

However this is still a massive improvement from last year where results of the report showed that 93 per cent of employees believed that their leaders displayed bias. This appreciable progress suggests that managerial training itself may not be the only weapon in the battle against unconscious bias. One reason for such a dramatic fall may be due to a majority of employers (63 per cent) actively reviewing job descriptions and person specification for bias.

Jack Leung, Regional Director at Hays Hong Kong commented, “While there have been many promising improvements in Hong Kong’s hiring practices to include more diverse talent, a top-down approach is vital in ensuring widespread implementation and success. Those in managerial positions could help promote diversity amongst leadership and the larger organisation by setting individual diversity recruitment targets, undertaking training to mitigate unconscious biases, and actively working to develop under-represented groups, specifically into leadership roles.”

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Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2019 the Group employed 11,500 staff operating from 265 offices in 34 markets across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2019:

– the Group reported net fees of £1,129.7 billion and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £248.8 million;
– the Group placed around 81,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 254,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 18% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 32% in Rest of World (RoW);
– the temporary placement business represented 57% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 43% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA