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What does name bias recruitment mean for job applications?

When the new government took control of parliament for a second term earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron was keen to create an even playing field when it came to recruitment to ensure that if you’ve got the skills, experience and determination, you can succeed no matter what your age or background.

In an attempt to tackle discrimination that is still an on-going issue in the workplace, the government decided to trial a ‘name blind’ method of recruitment amongst 10 of the countries leading employers in the public and private sectors. But if this trial proves to be successful, what will it mean for future recruitment procedures?

Well for starters several countries are already experimenting with name-blind applications to great effect. In 2010 Germany’s Anti-Discrimination Agency, an advisory body, sponsored a voluntary scheme to get businesses to try it. In France a law passed in 2006 that made the anonymising of applicants’ CVs compulsory for companies with 50 employees or more and earlier this year countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands also carried out tests to great effect.

Whilst some tests created extremely ‘wooly’ results and determined there was no clear correlation between the basis of the candidates name and how likely they were to be hired, a review of various studies by the Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA) found that anonymised job applications boost the chances of ethnic-minority candidates being invited to an interview. A Swedish study found that it led to more ethnic-minority people being hired.

For recruitment agencies it could mean slightly longer procedures to ensure that each employer knows exactly what’s involved, but for employees it could make the process a lot clearer cut. We’ll have to wait until results are released later this year to find out how the trials have gone with the UK’s big recruiters but we feel it’s the perfect way to ensure that getting hired is fair for all.



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