Could 'blind' recruitment fix hiring bias?


Acorn's Director of People, Genevieve Ryan talked with Recruitment Grapevine on how 'blind' recruitment could well be the first in a series of steps that promotes equality and fairness at work.


Despite many recruiters’ ambition to eradicate discrimination from the hiring process, it still seems to be the case that candidates have felt rejected as a result of unconscious bias. The term ‘unconscious bias’ is what Acas define as the scenario where people favour others who look like them or share their values. Particularly when a hiring manager is recruiting, it is easy for them to fall into familiar habits and favour candidates yielding similar experiences or expressing a comparable personality as themselves.

So, it begs the question as to whether the introduction of ‘blind recruitment’ would help to put more candidates at ease? The term ‘blind recruitment’ refers to the idea that recruiters would not know the name, address, gender or race of an applicant before the interview process starts. The aim for this hiring method is to prevent recruiters and hiring managers from making unintentional judgements and to give every candidate a fair chance to secure a job.

When an applicant shares their CV with a recruiter, they should undoubtedly be judged on if they are right for the job based on their skills and relevant experience – names, ages and race should never be a focus point. By removing details such as these from a CV, recruiters will be able to make decisions purely on a candidate’s merit and not based on factors such as gender.

To find out whether ‘blind recruitment’ is a popular choice, Recruitment Grapevine spoke to Acorn's Gen Ryan to get her thoughts…


‘blind recruitment’ could well be the first in a series of steps that promotes equality and fairness at work.”

“Although it’s likely to go some way towards preventing discrimination at the point of application, there are concerns within the industry that ‘blind recruitment’ also has the potential to delay any possible discriminatory action, rather than resolving the underlying issues surrounding intolerance and bias in the workplace.

In the early-stage process of sifting through applications and selecting candidates for interview, concealing a person’s name, age and gender would certainly be effective in removing some unconscious prejudices on the part of the recruiter.

Promoting diversity and inclusion as part of the wider culture as a means of prevention is just as important, however, education and training is an effective way for any organisation to take a positive stance on the issues involved.

Ultimately, most issues within the current working climate – from the gender pay gap to racial bias – have stemmed from years of unspoken, inherited behaviour and are not likely to be stamped out by hiding the characteristics of potential employees until they are invited to interview. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t aware that we make decisions based on prejudice and for this reason it can be much harder to address all issues and provide a clear-cut solution at the outset. That said – far be it the silver bullet that drives substantial change – ‘blind recruitment’ could well be the first in a series of steps that promotes equality and fairness at work.”

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