A guide to ‘name-blind’ applications – ending discrimination in recruitment

There are strict laws in place in the UK to ensure that discrimination is taken out of the equation during the recruitment process. However, a recent announcement by the government could put an end to what has been described as the ‘unconscious bias’ against recruits from certain backgrounds.

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that from 2017, the university admissions service UCAS will start to carry out ‘name-blind’ applications. The Civil Service, NHS, BBC and local government will also follow suit, along with major employers and recruiters including Virgin Money, HSBC, Deloitte and KPMG.

What is ‘name-blind’ recruitment?

The concept is very simple – it relates to taking candidate names off university and job applications so that they are not seen by recruiters. However, the need for it arises from some rather disturbing statistics.

In the US, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper entitled ‘Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination’. The research showed that applicants with ‘white-sounding names’ ended up sending an average of 10 CVs (resumes in the US) in order to get a call for an interview. For those with African-America names, candidates needed to send an average of 15 CVs to prospective employers.

Further research supports these findings. Durham University’s senior lecturer in Sociology, Vikki Boliver, carried out a survey of the Russell Group of leading UK universities. She found that 55% of white applicants between 2010 and 2012 received places, compared to 36% of ethnic minorities.

What this clearly shows is that intentionally or unconsciously, there is bias in recruitment – both for higher education and employment – that is based on a person’s name.

Will this solution work?

By removing names from applications, it is hoped that candidates will be judged purely on their own merits. Rather than making unconscious judgements based on a person’s name, each candidate will be assessed for the role based on their skills, experience and suitability – which is, of course, the way it should be.

Ending gender discrimination

In addition to the announcement about ‘name-blind recruitment’, the UK government is also taking steps to end gender discrimination. A recent announcement proclaimed that large companies will imminently be required to publish details on the bonuses paid on average to both male and female workers within their organisations. The gender pay gap disclosure rules aim to shine a light on unfair pay practices in the workplace and hopefully put an end to women being paid, on average, 9% less per hour than their male counterparts.

SOLOS Recruitment Consultants are committed to fair and transparent recruitment processes. It’s all about finding the right candidate, first time – based on skills rather than superficial details like names. If you’re looking for new talent, or looking for a new challenge in your career, the experienced and friendly team at SOLOS can help.

image courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

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