What is Blind Recruitment?

Blind recruitment refers to the removal of personal and identifiable information from a job application or CV. It is used to overcome unconscious bias and promote diversity in the workplace. By utilising blind recruitment, details of the candidate’s gender, ethnic background, age and quality of education can be removed, depending on how far the CV is anonymised.

Is discrimination still a problem?

We all like to think that as a society we have progressed substantially in the last 50 years and in fairness we have. Unfortunately though, research reveals that there are still biases in the workplace – be it conscious or unconscious.

Studies show that applicants with Chinese and Middle Eastern names must submit more applications to gain an interview than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. This type of discrimination transcends down to generations who were born and brought up in the UK.

But it’s not just racial discrimination which can be an issue. Clifford Chance, a leading UK law firm, decided to adopt blind recruitment when a study revealed that an Eton or Oxbridge education was still a must for high flyers in a range of professions, including judiciary and acting. In their first year of using this unique recruitment method the scheme has seen its annual intake of 100 graduate trainees come from 41 different educational institutions – a rise of 30% on the previous year.

“The overall object is to make sure we never lose out on talent, wherever it comes from,” said Ms Yeates, graduate recruitment and development manager at the firm. “We need to make sure we have the very best people spread out across the whole of the UK in terms of institutions.”

Advantages of Blind Recruitment

A more diverse workforce means more money

A study conducted by McKinsey consultants identified that large public companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to produce better returns than their local peers. Just a coincidence? The same applied at the bottom end of the scale – less diverse companies were less likely to do well.

“For every 10 per cent improvement in gender diversity, you’d see a 2-4% increase in profits.” says Vivian Hunt, McKinsey’s UK Managing Partner.

Reassurance

The Confederation of British Industry has described blind recruitment as one way to remove “criteria that could unintentionally bias managers, and give under-represented groups confidence that their application will be fairly considered”.

Widening the search for unicorns

By using the blind recruitment method people who wouldn’t have previously considered applying due to fear of rejection based on their age, race, gender or background now have the ability to show what they can do.

“If you haven’t got the best talent you’re not going to be the best, if you’re not representing the available pool of talent properly then you’re missing an opportunity,” says Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s EMEA president.

Disadvantages of blind recruitment

Talent turn off

Depending on how far you wish to take blind recruitment it can lengthen the recruitment process. Some organisations adopting this method have opted to include psychometric testing or work samples prior to the interview stage, which

No interests on CVs

Some organisations have taken blind recruitment to the extreme and removed ‘general interests’ on CVs in fear that they may identify the candidate’s gender. CVs are more than just a detail of a candidate’s education and work experience. It is their preliminary outlet to highlight what they are like as a person, and without these sections CV’s can start to sound very similar – making the selection process even harder.

Extra costs

To implement this recruitment method firms will need to invest in the training and technology required to ensure that the process is implemented effectively and consistently.

Although blind recruitment cannot eliminate all incidences of bias or discrimination within an organisation it is definitely a step in the right direction. Research suggests that the potential for discrimination is significantly higher at the initial application stages than at the later stages.

While there are some convincing points for adopting the blind recruitment method we recommend that businesses should thoroughly research a range of diversity strategies before deciding which is right for them.

Have you ever received anonymised CVs or taken part in a blind application? How did you find it? Tweet us @mytalentworks and let us know. For more on diversity in the workplace check out our blog on multi-generational workplaces.