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How organisations ensure fair decision making

What were the key findings?

  • There is a large body of decision making theory. But there's little agreement on what constitutes a ‘fair decision’.

  • Organisations use different language to describe the concept of fair decision making. These include objectivity, consistency, transparency, reliability, accountability and evidence-based decision-making.

  • Culture and environment as well as the existence of a decision-making structure are both indicators of good practice in decision-making.

  • Decision makers in health, legal and defence and security organisations face a range of decision-making challenges. These include: ensuring consistency across an organisation, recording decisions and capturing lessons learned, keeping pace with legislative changes, avoiding bias in decision-making, managing the available information effectively, ensuring staff members use the tools available.

  • A wide range of decision making tools and methods to support fair decision-making were identified. These include: guidance, audits, consistency checks, calibration meetings, mentoring, decision making templates and training.

Why did we commission this research?

Making decisions is a core activity for a regulator. We need to make sure that our decisions are fair and unbiased. This research helps us see how other organisations do this. We looked at techniques and models that we could learn from, and any barriers or challenges they face.

What did the research involve?

A rapid evidence review identified the volume and quality of evidence. It also highlighted the gaps in this evidence base. We then interviewed our decision makers, academic experts, people from three comparator sectors:

  • healthcare regulation (Nursing and Midwifery Council)
  • legal regulation (Solicitors Regulation Authority)
  • the defence and security sector.

Read the full report

Understanding how organisations ensure that their decision making is fair