Can we insist on interviewing 50% Females for vacancies?



Thank you for reading this and appreciate any suggestions in advance.


We hire around 40 placement students each year to join our Operations Team. The students join for a period of 1 year and are typically from Sandwich Degree courses which is where you spend the 3rd of your 4 year degree in employment/industry.


The degrees we target that are relevant to the positions typically have around 70% / 30% ratio of Males to Female and naturally this is reflective in our hires; ideally we would like the latter closer to 50/50.


Is there anything that would stop us putting in rulings that state hiring managers need to interview 50% Females for each of the placements vacancies?


We get around 250 Applicants so we should more than have enough candidates.


Just wondered if people could share their experiences, views and ideas on this  on this and whether or not there is anything legally I should be aware of.


Thanks in advance.

  • Hi David

    Whilst many employers operate a policy eg of guaranteeing that eg all disabled applicants meeting essential criteria will get an interview and this counts as positive action and not unlawful discrimination, I think that operating overt male / female quotas risks eg males claiming that eg a lesser-qualified female got the job just because of the quota / them being female and is therefore to be avoided at least to that extent.

    I can envisage arguments both ways though!
  • It would be possible to say when you advertise the placements that women are underrepresented in your Operations team and you would particularly encourage applications from women. You have the stats to back that statement up.

    There was a thread recently on attracting women into STEM roles which I think you would find interesting. If you search STEM it should pop up.

  • Political parties were given a specific exemption from the Equality Act to allow all women shortlists. I believe without this exemption such an approach would have been illegal ( and extrapolated same to 50/50).

    Suggest you go with Elizabeth’s suggestions.
  • I think that setting a quota at interview stage is risky and possibly unlawful (there are people much better qualified on here to tell you if it is) If you know that the gender split of hires you make reflects the gender split of applicants you recieved then I think you would be better off focusing on attracting female applications through positive action. If, after getting more female applications, the diversity of the hires remains the same then the issue may lay with the hiring manager selection process and would never have been solved via a quota to begin with.
  • In reply to Jason:

    You make some excellent points, Jason, and I see this is your first post so thanks fort joining in the discussion. I hope we will hear more from you. The only point I would take issue with is that a quota is definitely, not possible, unlawful and Keith, who is qualified to say so, has already pointed that out. I draw you attention to it, and that of anyone else reading this thread, in case they miss that crucial point. I have looked up the thread I mentioned above and it is here: www.cipd.co.uk/.../348651 Some of the thinking in it is in tune with your suggestions.
  • I think Jason's point is key here - that if you're getting a good mix of applicants for the positions, then your weakness may be in the recruitment managers' skills (or biases). If you're not getting balance at the application stage, there is more you can do to look at your advertising/messaging and testing that out on different members of your team (with different gender, ethnicities, ages etc) to see how welcoming it would be to different people.

    Even if it were legal, simply insisting that half of the shortlist has to be female (or another protected characteristic) is to blunt an instrument - because if the bias exists, it won't change the outcome.
  • In reply to Nina Waters:

    As far as I'm aware "positive discrimination" is only possible for "protected characteristics" in the sense of the Equality act.......... ready to be corrected