In recent years we have seen a number of companies jumping on the blind recruitment band wagon. Deloitte was one of the first large UK employers to adopt blind recruitment techniques (or contextualised recruitment as they call it).
The term refers to the technique of removing personal information - from name, gender or age to place of education - from candidates’ applications during the assessment process. The aim is to help with removing unconscious bias which tends to make hiring managers more likely to hire (but then also promote, reward etc.) people more akin to themselves.
So why are more firms using contextual recruitment?
There is a wealth of studies pointing to the presence, conscious or otherwise, of discrimination against minority groups in the recruitment and selection process. Some concluded, for example, that job applicants with “foreign-sounding names” are less likely than others to hear back from companies who are recruiting.
My name is not particularly anglophone, but I have never felt the need to go by something else. However, I know some people in my network, mainly from Asian and African descent, who have adopted more English-sounding names “to make life easier”.
The case for blind recruitment, therefore, is that by removing unconscious bias, companies can build more diverse workforces and with the diversity agenda at the forefront for many, the pressure is on for companies to get it right.
Some may argue whether this is another box-ticking exercise. After all, blind recruitment would predominantly affect the shortlisting process. It is business as usual when it gets to the interviewing stages.
However, in its simplest form, this practice would give hiring managers an indication that, whether they realise it or not, candidates may be treated differently on the basis of their name or other non-role-specific factors. Even just shortlisting a wider pool of candidates to be interviewed would be a step in the right direction.
Can one size fit all?
This approach, of course, may not work for all size of organisations and at all job levels. Looking at the larger accountancy firms, they have the resources and the infrastructure to invest in someone who might not have been their stereotypical applicant, but who has the potential to develop and to bring different perspectives to the organisation/team that they work in.
On the other side, smaller companies with a much lower staff turnover/intake, arguably cannot afford the costs of hiring “the wrong person” and may be more inclined to stick to the traditional methods they have always employed.
It would be a misconception to assume that blind recruitment is the only path to the diversity Holy Grail, however if used alongside other methods of inclusive talent selection it can help to increase social inclusion and build a workforce that is representative of the company’s clients and society as a whole.
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