Tie Breaker Principle

The Tie Breaker Principle and Indirect Discrimination

The tie-breaker principle

The tie-breaker principle allows a selection committee faced with making a choice between two or more candidates, who are of equal merit, to take into consideration whether one is from a group that is disproportionately under-represented or otherwise disadvantaged within the workforce, ie, is Māori or a member of an equity group (see below).

Using the tie breaker principle

A selection committee is considering two applicants for a position in a male dominated area. Both meet the selection criteria to a similar standard and both could reasonably be considered to be able to do the job. One is male the other female. The committee could use the tie-breaker principle and employ the female applicant, as women are disproportionately under-represented in this area and there are benefits in having a diverse workforce.

A student facing service division has very few Pacific staff. There are a significant number of Pacific students. When a vacancy arises, two candidates of equal merit are in a tie-breaker situation and the selection committee has to find some way to choose between them. One candidate is Pacific and the other candidate is not. The committee could choose to offer the job to the Pacific candidate as Pacific staff are under-represented and it would also demonstrate greater reflection of the community (students) being served.

A faculty is faced with making a choice between two applicants for a job as lecturer. One has stronger research abilities and the other stronger teaching abilities. The selection committee decides that both could do the job to the same standard but in different ways as each would bring a different set of skills and experiences to the job. One of the candidates is Māori the other non-Māori. Therefore, because the candidates are of equal merit the committee could use the tie breaker principle when choosing between the candidates and opt to employ the Māori candidate because there are very few Māori lecturing staff in the faculty.

Selection Criteria and Indirect Discrimination
In order to use the tie-breaker principle, the selection committee must first establish that the candidates are of equal merit. A set of criteria against which candidates will be assessed when applying for a job should first be established. These criteria can take into account a candidate’s overall ability, competence and professional experience together with any relevant formal or academic qualifications, as well as any other qualities required to carry out the particular job. However, committees should ensure that any criteria do not indirectly discriminate against people who share a particular characteristic.

Example of indirect discrimination
A position may require the employee to undertake a certain amount of travel between campuses. Including in the job description a requirement of a drivers licence would mean many people with disabilities would be ineligible. Unless it could be shown that the need to drive themselves could be objectively justified, and no reasonable accommodations made, this would be indirect discrimination. A more appropriate requirement could be ‘ability to travel’.

Māori and Equity Groups

Equity initiatives at the University aim to support Māori and equity group students and staff. Māori people have particular status as tangata whenua outside of equity group status. In addition, the University has specific responsibilities to address Māori educational and employment equity.

The University equity groups include:

• Pacific students and staff
• Staff and students with disabilities
• Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) students and staff
• Students and staff from refugee backgrounds (SSRB)
• Students from low socio-economic backgrounds (low SEB)
• Men or women where there are barriers to access and success

s.44 Academic recruitment and selection procedures
s. 15 Professional recruitment and selection procedures
“Where two candidates are deemed to be of equal merit and one of the candidates is a member of an equity target group, then that candidate is to be offered the position”.