The future of recruitment is blind
Recruitment and selection is fundamental to any expanding business, so it’s essential that companies hire those who are most suited to the role. Whilst this should be dependent on candidates holding the relevant skills and having the right experience which will support and contribute to business growth, some recruiters are unknowingly using prejudice to select their candidates. Consequently, in an effort to abolish discrimination in the workplace, the UK government is now urging businesses to ask applicants for name-free CVs; but what does this mean for the future of the recruitment industry and how will it impact a recruiter’s ability to confidently put forward strong workers?
Although the Equality Act was introduced in 2010 as a way to protect employees from workplace discrimination, our thoughts are inadvertently influencing the ways in which we make our decision to hire someone. Everyone has individual biases and whilst some employers may be conscious of their thoughts and beliefs, an unconscious bias poses a threat because these subliminal thoughts are automatic, based on the way we were brought up, the culture we live in and our social environment; most of the time we don’t even realise we’re having them.
Although it is impossible to eradicate this issue completely, preventative measures can be taken to generate awareness of the problem and, potentially, how recruiters can avoid it. The introduction of the name-free CV is just one way the government hopes to achieve this.
The name-free CV
It’s quite common now for gender, marital status and date of birth to be omitted from CVs and applications; however, this new government initiative for the name-free CV is primarily to reduce other forms of discrimination which seemingly occur when applications are received from ethnic minority backgrounds1. This can be illustrated in a US study carried out by The National Bureau of Economic Research, which revealed that “Job applicants with white names needed to send about ten resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.” This is indicative of accounts from a number of candidates who have reported being unsuccessful in their job searches and, on recommendations from others, have either ‘whitened’ their names or used initials on their applications to give them a better advantage when applying for jobs.
It doesn’t stop there; the initiative has been implemented soon after leading corporations, such as Ernst & Young, said they would remove degree classification from the entry criteria for their hiring programmes. How does removing the name of the university where applicants studied help to reduce discrimination? This brings us back to the discussion of unconscious bias and how an individual’s preconceptions can unwittingly cause them to discriminate between two applicants. For example, we all know that Oxford and Cambridge are excellent universities; say two candidates applied for the same job and one applicant earned their degree at one of these highly regarded institutes whilst another earned theirs in a lesser known establishment, would employers look favourably towards the ‘well-educated’ applicant, despite both candidates having the same degree, skills and experience?
Conversely, if the recruiter studied at the same university as the candidate who didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge, would they warm to that applicant based on their own mutual feelings about their upbringing? In this case, the Oxford candidate is being discriminated against because they don’t have that in common with the person hiring for the position, which, on this occasion, is nothing to do with prestige. Removing this common denominator from the CV or application, therefore, removes this preconception before candidates reach interview stage, providing both applicants with a fairer advantage aimed at their skills and ability to do the job, as opposed to where they’ve come from.
Whilst the name-free CVs are a new scheme only just being implemented in the UK, the Indian Prime Minister is already taking things one step further with talks on banning job interviews for junior government roles in order to overcome a nepotism challenge. This will come into effect from the 1st of January 2016, in the hope it will put an end to corruption and to ensure selection is objective, based on competitive examination.
The need for balance
So should we be concerned by the introduction of name-free CVs? Mostly, yes. Whilst anonymity can benefit the candidate at application stage by removing discrimination, what will happen when they reach interview stage and the name of the applicant ultimately needs to be disclosed? Potential problems could ensue five to ten years down the line with talks of video interviews and voice recognition software disguising the candidate’s voice. There’s going to come a time in this politically correct world when employers say ‘enough is enough’.
In addition to this, it’s well known in the recruitment industry that a named CV provides a wealth of information for recruiters to research applicants in order to uncover their skills, experience, achievements and recommendations. With social media playing a big part in today’s recruitment process and discussions about ‘online profiles’ being the way to go for future job applications, it’s clear that something needs to give if we’re going to achieve the right balance. As for now, it’s certainly a topic to watch out for throughout 2016.