BETA report: Going blind to see more clearly

BETA report: Going blind to see more clearly

Domestic Policy Behavioural Economics
Friday, 30 June 2017

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

BETA. Going blind to see more clearly: unconscious bias in Australian Public Service shortlisting processes

The Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) have released their second report.

Over the last year, BETA has been working in partnership with the Australian Public Service Commission and 14 other Australian Public Service (APS) agencies to test the impact of de-identifying applications at the shortlisting stage of recruitment.

Women are approximately 50% of the Australian workforce, but are under-represented in management and executive-level positions. In 2016 women comprised 59% of the Australian Public Service as a whole, but accounted for 49% of executive level officers and only 43% of Senior Executive officers.


It’s possible that discrimination may be influencing decisions in the shortlisting phase of recruitment. Can ‘going blind’ help to make us less biased in recruitment decisions? BETA wanted to test it out, to see what works for recruitment in the APS.

The findings from this trial provide useful insights into the impact of de-identification within an APS context at the shortlisting stage of recruitment. Importantly, the findings also demonstrate the importance of testing interventions to address diversity before introducing them at full scale.

A copy of the report can be accessed on the BETA page.