Employers are being urged to remove names from application forms in order to guard against any suggestion of “unconscious bias” against potential recruits from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
A number of studies have indicated that it would appear that applicants with names such as Jones receive a more positive response than an applicant with a name that could be associated with an ethnic minority.
The Prime Minster has announced that a number of organisations including the civil service will carry out “name-blind” applications. In order words, names will no longer be seen by recruiters. It is anticipated that this practice will spread more widely to the private sector over the next year or so. It is hoped that the introduction of name-blind recruitment procedures will help prevent unconscious bias and ensure job offers are made on the basis of potential, not ethnicity, gender etc.
Name-blindness will not solve inequality by itself, there are other methods of encouraging unbiased recruitment process including training of those responsible for recruitment in judging applications and awarding roles.
Perhaps, we should not get too carried away, because after the shortlist has been arranged, the applicants still have to attend a face to face interview. Then, it is to be hoped that applicants who have the skills, the potential and the right attitude to work will be given the chance to succeed, regardless of their individual characteristics.