David Cameron has backed a scheme for businesses to process job applications on a ‘name blind’ basis.
The scheme is aimed at ending discrimination at the first stages of the recruitment process.
The Civil Service has committed to name blind recruitment for all roles below senior civil servant level. This will match other graduate recruiters from the private sector, including companies like KPMG, HSBC and Deloitte.
Cameron laid the groundwork for the plan with his speech at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month. He stated that there is an unconscious bias in recruitment that means that applicants with ‘white-sounding’ names are nearly twice as likely to receive a call back from recruiters as somebody with an ‘ethnic-sounding’ name.
He said “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.”
Cameron also announced that from 2017 UCAS will also begin processing name blind applications for university courses.
Civil service chief executive John Manzoni said: “I’m delighted to expand the civil service’s use of name-blind applications – not just for all graduate and apprenticeship-level roles, but for many other external applications too.”
“It’s vital that the civil service takes a lead on this, and I’m confident that this important step will help us build an organisation that is even more talented, diverse and effective than it is today.”
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser for the CIPD, said: “Tackling unconscious bias makes good business sense to ensure that organisations don’t miss out on talent, and individuals get the opportunity they need to get into and on at work.
“We certainly welcome the efforts that are being made with the key groups that are being addressed in today’s pledge, but there’s potential for name-blind applications to be used much more widely.
“Apprenticeships is another area where this can and should be applied, for example. And why stop at names? Organisations can choose to remove ages from CVs as well. If people have the skills, the potential and the right attitude to work then they should be given every chance to succeed, regardless of their individual characteristics.”
Research has found a clear bias against ethnic groups when it comes to the initial stages of recruiting. The National Centre for Social Research found the disparity in call back rates highlighted by Cameron, whilst Demos found that British Muslims are less likely to hold professional or managerial roles than any other religious group.
The name blind scheme is a solid first step towards ending unconscious bias in the first stages of candidate selection and ensuring a fairer, more diverse workplace.
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