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What Is 'Name Blind' Recruitment?


Matt Stevens from TalentLens UK looks at what constitutes name blind recruitment and why it is a much needed step to help fight against discrimination in the workplace.

Last week, it was announced by David Cameron that UK organisations will pledge to recruit staff on a 'name blind' basis, in order to reduce 'unconscious bias' against potential employees from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The question therefore, is what is it and how will it work in practice?


Fight for your rights

As reported previously, certain employers in the UK took steps earlier this year to remove A-Levels from their graduate recruitment entry requirements, in order to combat a culture of Oxbridge favouritism and boost the chances of successful social mobility becoming more commonplace.

There is a long way to go to reach the desired levels of workplace diversity, as evidenced by the findings of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission's report released in June 2015.

This concluded that in relation to social inclusion, many companies are now embarking on a familiar path to that walked by firms with regards to other forms of diversity, such as gender.                                                                                     


What's the problem?

When stories emerge of members of ethnic minorities feeling pressured to combat the discrimination they routinely face by changing their names in order to reach the interview stage of recruitment processes, the need for change becomes apparent.

This is joined by the slightly more complicated cases of inbound highly skilled refugees, unable to find work at the level they are qualified for, often simply because employers don't recognise overseas qualifications and sometimes even demonstrable experience.    


The evidence

Discrimination against ethnic minorities was formally recorded as an issue when a 2006 study by the Department for Work and Pensions demonstrated that people from ethnic minority groups have higher unemployment rates and worse rates of pay.     

Indeed, in 2009 the DWP commissioned another study which involved researchers sending three applications to circa 1000 advertised positions. All applicants were equally qualified but one had a white sounding name and the other two had non white sounding names.

The result? Shamefully but unsurprisingly, 11% of the white named applications received a positive response, whereas just 6% of the ethnic minority named applications received a positive response. 


What has been done?

Under the terms of the name blind policy announced by Downing Street, candidate names will not be visible to employers on graduate recruitment applications. 

Public and private sector organisations, collectively employing 1.8 million UK workers, have signed up to the initiative.   

Leading graduate recruiters, such as KPMG, HSBC, Deloitte, Virgin, Teach First and the NHS have committed to name-blind for all graduate and apprenticeship positions.


Leading from the front

Teach First has been using the name blind model since 2009 and has noticed a sharp increase in the diversity of its workforce - for example, 15% of this year's Initial Teacher Training cohort are black and ethnic minority graduates, which is two times larger than the proportion of the entire current UK teaching workforce. 

The information Teach First removes during its graduate recruitment process includes:

  • Name, date of birth, address, gender, ethnicity, disability
  • Stage of career (student / final year / graduate / career switch)
  • Primary or secondary school attended
  • School (state/independent)
  • University


The case for objectivity

All the above illustrates the case for objective, fair and reliable methods of ensuring that potential graduate hires are treated equally. 

To find out more about how TalentLens can help you to cut through the subjectivity and find the best person for the job, regardless of their background, please contact us on 0845 630 8888 (calls cost 3p per minute plus your phone company's access) or info@talentlens.co.uk


Connect with Matt on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter. 


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