Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has defended its move to eliminate references to “merit” from its hiring policy.

In an internal email to staff, the university outlined a shift away from the “merit principle” towards a more inclusive suitability assessment. 

Vice-Chancellor Margaret Sheil says the new approach would take into account gender, ethnicity, and the balance within departments.

She noted that supposedly merit-based recruitments often succumb to unconscious bias.

She also highlighted the need to address underrepresentation, citing examples of women in science and engineering and men in teaching and nursing at QUT. 

“When people say things like; ‘We do this on merit’, they're actually reflecting the bias of their own experience,” Professor Sheil said.

“There's so much data on this around selection, whether it's recruitment into orchestras or into universities.

“There isn't a way of being colourblind that's not got some form of bias into it.”

More details are accessible here.