Leading independent business law firm, Hall & Wilcox, will be the only law firm participating in the Victorian government’s pilot program to stamp out ‘unconscious bias’ in recruiting.

Other participants include a range of government agencies, big four accounting firms, the Law Institute of Victoria, Melbourne University and Westpac bank.

A government statement says: “Hiring bias, including unconscious bias, can unfairly deny many Victorians from receiving the same opportunities as colleagues of a different gender, culture and age.

“Research conducted by the Australian National University shows people from culturally diverse backgrounds with equivalent qualifications and experience often have to submit many more applications before they are offered an interview.

“Diversity Council of Australia research also highlights the economic benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace, leading to greater productivity and innovation. Higher executive and board diversity in companies produced equity returns that were 53% higher and gross earnings that were 14% higher than those with low levels of diversity.”

The pilot participation at Hall & Wilcox is being led by partner Anastasia Coutsouvelis, who praised the initiative. “Hall & Wilcox has long embraced diversity and we are always looking to increase our commitment to diversity, because we can see it has real benefits.

“This program has great potential by bringing unconscious bias into the open, so it can be recognised and understood and eventually overcome.

“Research shows that greater diversity creates organisations which are more adaptable, with better customer service and higher performing recruitment and talent retention.”

Tony Macvean, Managing Partner at Hall & Wilcox, said that embracing diversity is the smarter way forward. “The evidence shows that unconscious bias actually hinders company performance.

“Greater diversity is the way forward, and this has been backed up time and again by research. For example, a Forbes study showed that workplace diversity can positively impact innovation and business growth.1

“We feel lucky to be involved in the pilot program, and it fits with our smarter law mantra of always looking for ways to do things better”, he said.

1Forbes: Fostering innovation through a diverse workforce