Hiring employees is one of the most important parts of building a business. But as organisations change with the times, so too has the recruitment process. This was the topic of conversation at our recent LeadersHub event, putting the spotlight on socio-economic diversity.
It’s an area that has received great focus and interest over the past few years, as equal opportunity employment has risen to the fore. This is significant on a number of levels, most notably to ensure a fair recruitment process that employs colleagues from a range of diverse backgrounds.
There are many benefits in having a diverse team. It can offer greater insight and experience, and overcome ‘groupthink’ and repetitive ways of working. It also makes for a richer organisation, benefitting clients and colleagues alike. Studies have even shown that it can positively impact on profitability too.
Fair representation has never been higher on the business agenda. As such, ‘blind CV reading or ‘blind recruitment’ has become increasingly popular in HR circles.
The term refers to recruiting colleagues without personally indefinable information available, so that personal bias doesn’t creep in. This means removing information such as; age, gender, name, education and even years of experience from CVs, that might otherwise prejudice an application.
In doing so, this may help eliminate unconscious bias on a number of areas, such as; ethnicity, age and gender. With an ageing workforce, a greater focus on the workforce gender gap and lack of diversity in some organisations, it remains an important focus.
Research has shown that bias is very much an industry-wide issue. As such, blue-chip companies such as; BBC, HSBC and Deloitte are responding by introducing blind CV reading.
One recent study found that people with ethnic names had to send out 50 per cent more CVs to get a call back, compared to those with ‘white’ sounding names. This was particularly apparent in African-American names.
Age is another issue, with a further study finding that 83 per cent of candidates aged 55 and over feel that their chances of employment are restricted when their age is revealed.
Furthermore, women are twice as likely than men to feel that their chances of selection are “lowered” due to gender.
It’s clear that blind CV reading is a great way to overcome bias and promote diversity. So, how can businesses adopt this method into the workplace?
The first step is understanding that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. To get the most out of blind recruiting, organisations should tailor the process to best suit their needs. For instance, some businesses may suffer with a particular bias such as not employing enough women, while others require certain details such as years of experience for recruiting highly-skilled workers. Therefore, the approach must be tailored to each organisation.
It may be as simple as omitting information such as university and college backgrounds. This can overcome management choosing candidates that come from ‘red brick’ universities and schools such as Trinity College Dublin or Blackrock College if that’s a concern within an organisation.
As a general rule, however, a CV application should include all the necessary background to make an informed decision on the candidates’ skill, experience and suitability.
Information that has no bearing on their ability to carry out a task can easily be removed. This includes an applicant’s; name, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status and address.
The next stage is creating a process that allows for blind CV reading. This can take various forms, but should focus on capturing the key information you require.
In the first stage of blind hiring, a recruiter would not be in physical contact with the candidate. Therefore, a method needs to be established for acquiring data without the option for bias to come in to play.
Using a dedicated recruitment agency is often the best approach. The recruiter can go through each of the applications, removing personal details before passing on candidate details to the employer.
Alternatively, a robust online application process can eliminate (or hide) some of the personal information you would rather remain unknown. Finally, if you opt to manually go through CVs, ensure that the person doing so is not involved in the recruitment process, and only withholding the essential information.
Everybody has bias, it’s part of human nature and something we should acknowledge and accept. That said, there are practices such as blind CV reading, which help to overcome these issues.
Educating managers and employees about conscious and unconscious bias is an important step in building the right culture. It also means that colleagues will be more aware of the necessity for the introduction of methods such as blind recruiting.
Anyone involved in recruitment or HR can benefit from blind CV reading. Acknowledging that bias (unconscious or otherwise) is part of the human condition is the first step. Eliminating some of the personal information that creates recruitment bias is a practical step that any organisation can take.
In doing so, you’re not just helping to evolve the recruitment process, you’re also helping to build positive cultural change within an organisation.
A diverse workforce is a key to a thriving, productive and profitable business. If it’s time to review the way your company conducts interviews, maybe it’s time to consider blind CV reading.
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Author: Ellie Doyle
Ellie brings a pragmatic approach to clients hiring challenges, and believes in the power of asking the right questions. She has a phenomenal network of industry contacts – if anyone knows the person for the job, its Ellie. She is famous for her ability to retain even the smallest detail.