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‘Don’t insert name here’ to end discrimination in recruitment?

On 26th October 2016, the Prime Minister released the names of firms that have pledged to recruit on a ‘name-blind’ basis – removing applicants’ names from the recruitment process. Initially that could sound counter-productive, making an already complex process more difficult, potentially increasing the chances of mixing candidates up.

BUT, as a measure to enhance equality; by only allowing candidates to be weighed by their skills and experience, it’s a real step forward. This was an issue we highlighted in our recent People Matter newsletter in which we reported that job applicants with ‘white’ sounding names are almost twice as likely to get a call back for a job application than those with ‘ethnic’ sounding names. No name recruiting should combat this. It also cancels out unconscious bias based on gender and marital status. HSBC, KPMG, and the BBC are already on board.

It is of course a dangerous move to be swayed by discrimination. By turning down a candidate based on one of these discriminatory criteria, you’d be breaking the Equality Act 2010, and giving yourself a fast-track ticket to a discrimination claim.

This new practice isn’t flawless however. Critics have found a couple of key issues that should be considered, especially if you’re looking to recruit name-blind yourself. First, unconscious bias doesn’t just arise from an individual’s name. It could also arise from the educational establishment that they’ve attended or their address. Should employers remove those details from the process too?

A second point is that name-blind recruiting may rule out bias during the initial CV sifting and shortlisting stage, but what about further down the recruitment funnel when learning more details about candidates is almost unavoidable? Bias in the interviewing process may remain in some cases! Internal recruitment also isn’t helped by name-blind recruiting. Most individuals up for that dream promotion will be well-known within the organisation, making this scheme much more difficult to implement!

This is definitely an interesting development to the way in which businesses recruit. In a few years’ time, name-blind recruiting may be the norm, so make sure you keep an eye on our weekly blogs and sign up to our HR newsletter to ensure you’re up to date. The HR Dept is also there to help you through all parts of the recruitment and interviewing process. Give us a call to discuss any requirements.