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Ethics in Practice: An Assessment Centre Case Study

Presented at the 2023 Virtual ACSG Conference on 17 March 2023 from 12:15 - 13:15


Introduction: “The ACSG views ethics as a system of conduct that indicates how we should behave and what our responsibilities are. It includes a commitment to do what is right and implies that being ethical means that conduct should serve the welfare of all stakeholders involved with and directly impacted by an AC.”(Code of Ethics, 2018: 3). This utilitarian approach to ethics judges behaviour based on the consequences of such behaviour. Harm to any stakeholder, whether intentional or not, are perhaps unethical behaviour (Lowman, 2022). This means that the AC practitioner should actively strive to align all intentions and activities within and around an assessment centre to the welfare of all stakeholders impacted by an assessment centre. Not doing so, might lead to unintentional harm that may be perceived as an AC being an unethical AC. This includes being cognisant of the ethical culture within the organisation where the AC is being conducted.


Problem Statement: Although the AC practitioner will probably strive and aspire to “do no harm” and to perhaps even creating an environment where organisational employees may flourish, how can the practitioner take decisions and implement actions about selection processes that will in all probability lead to ethical assessment centres? This question is becoming increasingly important with the increased use of technology in every aspect of developing and delivering assessment centres.


Presentation Approach: We will, through the use of a stepwise decision-making process (van den Bergh), applying the Code of Ethics for ACs in South Africa (Schlebusch, Meiring, Loman, & Muleya, 2018), as well as the recommendations from the Legal Companion (Lancaster & Schlebusch, 2021), unpack a case study about an assessment centre for selection purposes. The audience will participate in applying the technique and co-creating their own learning and insights about ethics and assessment centres.


Conclusion: Striving to take ethical decisions and behaving in an ethical manner needs to be front of mind for all professionals and leaders. However, since the environment in which we work is rapidly changing, we need to regularly “test” our own understating and knowledge of ethics, especially when it comes to assessment centres where results are used for high stakes decision-making. This practical presentation will challenge each participant’s thinking and hopefully lead to a greater awareness of ethics.


Sandra Schlebusch is the managing director of LEMASA (Pty) Ltd. She obtained a BCom Honours degree in Industrial Psychology at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. She continued her studies in business and management-leadership and obtained an MBA during May 2004 at the University of the Northwest, Potchefstroom Campus. Her 30 years of work experience encompass the domain of people development – from selecting, to developing, and to nurturing talent. She has worked both full-time and as a consultant in large corporations, as well as state-owned and smaller enterprises, where she designed and implemented coaching and mentoring, leadership development, as well as succession development processes. Sandra’s specialisation is assessment centres, and she specifically uses simulations as part of her design, development, and implementation of numerous assessment centres, both for selection and for developmental purposes. Her unique area of work is coaching development centres – these incorporate coaching with the rigour of assessment centres. She is both an experienced assessor and coach, having worked with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds across the world. Sandra is past Chairman of the Assessment Centre Study Group (ACSG). She co-established the AC Academy in 2012 with the aim of educating potential assessment centre users. She has published the following books: Assessment Centres: Unlocking People Potential (1st and 2nd Edition), as well as a couple of peer reviewed articles on this subject in scientific journals. She also speaks on the topic of assessment centres at both national and international conferences.


Henriëtte van den Berg, PhD, has been registered as a Counselling Psychologists since 1986 and has been working in different work contexts including a hospital, private practice and university for the last thirty years. She is passionate about talent development and optimal professional performance. As part of her work at university she gained valuable experience teaching, conducting research and mentoring young professionals. She graduated 22 PhD students (Psychology and Interdisciplinary degrees) and 46 Masters students. She has extensive experience in ethics training for health professionals, trauma therapy and resilience building for adolescents and adults. She has been involved with the training of registered psychologists for 30 years and provides mentoring and supervision for registered psychologists, young and mid-career professionals and healthcare workers. She served as Director of the Postgraduate School (University of Free State) from 2012 until 2017 and embarked on a career as a free-lance capacity development specialist in March 2017. She also continues working part-time in a private practice as a psychologist supporting females through the diagnoses and treatment of breast cancer. She currently manages a mentoring program for academic staff at University of Free State where she runs a comprehensive skills development program addressing the training and growth needs of the group. She completed her PhD in Psychology in 200, focussing on occupational health and well-being of career women (UFS, 2001) and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Ethics in 2018 at Stellenbosch University (Cum Laude).

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