What is blind recruitment and why you should implement it straight away?

Blind recruitment is simply removing all identifying information from resumes of applicants. This includes the candidate name and other information that gives away the identity of the candidate in regards to their ethnicity, age, gender and background. For example, not only removing the name from the resume, but information such as hobbies, or where a person received their education.

The objective is to create shortlist of job candidates based on relevant information, such as skills, quantifiable achievements and qualifications.

The reason why it is so important identifying details are concealed from the initial selection process is that we all have unconscious biases. We are not suggesting that all of these biases are intentional or stem from a conscious desire to impede the progress of women or minorities. The first step to increasing the diversity of your workplace is to acknowledge the presence of conscious and unconscious biases.

Dr. Mzhzarin Banaji of Harvard University and co-author of Blind spot: Hidden Biases of Good People, explains that “discrimination is veiled, not explicit, but rather more implicit, unconscious, because we are ourselves unaware of it”.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we have a problem in recruitment in regards to these conscious and unconscious biases. Take for example, the simple impact a name can have.

In 2017, Inside Out London sent CVs from two candidates, Adam and Mohamed, who had identical skills and experience in response to 100 job opportunities. Mohamed was offered 4 interviews, while Adam was offered 12 interviews.

In 2012, in a randomized double-blind study in a US Faculty of Science, CV’s were randomly named and those with male names were more likely to be called competent and hirable than female names.

Benefits of blind recruitment

Benefits of blind recruitment include the potential to improve diversity, having candidates judged on their skills and competencies, rather than gender, age, ethnicity etc., increasing the talent pool, engaged candidates, who know they won’t be judged on irrelevant factors and improved company performance.  Having a diversity and inclusion program is no longer a ‘nice thing to do’ but something organisations need to do to stay competitive and maintain their reputation.

So who is using blind recruitment in Australia?

Well the list is growing in Australia and includes the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Westpac, Australia Post and more recently, the Australian Federal Police introduced blind recruitment for an executive employment round (to name just a few).

However, you should not think of blind recruitment that is something only for the large corporates or government organisations. Whether a startup, SME, or local business owner, think about how your own biases are potentially impacting on your choices and how by implementing a few simple steps such as blind recruitment, you potentially improve your hire (and overall workplace performance).

The arguments against blind recruitment

Arguments against blind recruitment include the delay in discrimination, as at some stage, candidates will be interviewed face-to-face, lower morale between recruitment staff, the inability to determine cultural fit in the early stages of the recruitment process and still not ending up with your pre-determined diversity quota.

But do these arguments stack up?

Not really, if you see blind recruitment as just one part of the recruitment process. To really leverage blind recruitment you need to implement a few steps, in particular a renewed focus on how you conduct interviews. Blind recruitment, (albeit an important and vital step), is just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle in ensuring that you realise the benefits of eliminating biases so you end up with the best possible job candidate.

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