A series of studies showed that people with ethnic names needed to send out 50% more job applications before they got invited for an interview than job hunters with “white”-sounding names. This is disturbing news for international students looking for jobs in the UK.

Going “blind” is becoming increasingly popular.

Blind recruitment involves removing any personal information from CV’s and job applications, such as name, gender, age and education. The practice is designed to eliminate discrimination. Deloitte, HSBC and KPMG are just a few of the organisations that have adopted this practice.

 

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, is a supporter of blind recruitment, and at a recent conference he said,

“Do you know that in our country today, even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get callbacks for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names?

“One young black girl had to change her name to Elizabeth before she got any calls to interviews. That, in 21st-century Britain, is disgraceful.”

There is no doubt diversity in the workplace is a good thing, both for graduates but also for companies. A diverse workforce resembles a diverse client base more accurately, and ensures more creative ideas as people are from different backgrounds. Also, studies show a clear link between increased workforce diversity and better revenue and sales performance.

A Step Further

Deloitte has gone a step further than just name blind job applications. The consulting firm will also not see the names of job applicants’ schools and universities. The company hopes this will avoid giving priority to students who have attended prestigious schools and universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge.

The goal is to search for potential rather than polish and privilege.

Why aren’t all companies doing this?

Good for you, Deloitte, for championing this practice and taking action to eliminate bias! Unfortunately, not all companies are being so proactive. One reason is that managers are worried this would slow down their recruitment process and might have a negative impact of the candidate’s experience.

Another concern is around the technical challenge of making job applications and CV’s “name blind.” Finally, some HR departments feel that this practice undermines them and implies they are not capable of unbiased hiring.

Gender Bias

We like to think we are all free of bias. But the truth is that we make judgements all the time, sometimes unconsciously. Some of the bias is in our minds based on pre-existing beliefs. “Girls can’t be engineers” or “Boys can’t be nurses” for example.

Women now account for 20.7% of board members in FTSE 100 companies, and while this is good news it is a long way from gender equality, from 50%. To achieve this equality in the boardroom, companies must invest in their female talent and nurture them through the ranks.

Could the reason behind this be the unconscious bias not only of men, but also of women themselves? With relatively few women in key roles, women’s unconscious beliefs about career advancement could be holding them back from reaching the top.

It is important for our future that we unlearn our current beliefs and relearn new ones.

Unconscious bias – are you guilty?

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