‘Affinity bias’ is rife in Irish workplaces, say employees

More than half of staff believe managers favour those who look, think and act like them

More than half of Irish employees believe their managers are biased in favour of people who look, think and act like them, a report on diversity in the workplace by recruitment giant Hays has found.

Its research found 55 per cent of staff believed employers, managers and senior figures in the workplace were afflicted with what is sometimes called “affinity bias”, whereby they show preferences to those junior colleagues or job candidates who most remind them of themselves.

Only 43 per cent of Irish workers say their organisation is proactive in their efforts to source diverse candidates for jobs, while only 42 per cent say their organisation ensures that there is diversity on the panel of interviewers.

The findings, based on a survey of 850 people, are published today in Hays Ireland’s diversity and inclusion report for 2018.


"Every employee, regardless of background, deserves to work in a safe, supportive and respectful environment, making a clear human case for building fairer and more inclusive workplaces," said Hays Ireland director Maureen Lynch.

‘Business case’

“Both Irish and international research has consistently shown there is a strong business case for diversity, particularly because it helps to unlock the full potential of an organisation’s talent,” she added.

“At a time when so many sectors are experiencing acute skills shortages, this is a consideration that cannot be ignored.”

However, less than half of respondents believed their employers fully understood the relationship between diversity and inclusion on the one hand and profitability, talent attraction, innovation and employee retention on the other.

Hays Ireland said managers needed to “lead from the front” with initiatives such as “unconscious bias” training and the use of “blind” decision-making when shortlisting job candidates.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics