The term Blind CV has been circulating for a while now. The concept focuses on creating a level playing field between all applicants, encouraging a more inclusive mindset – and challenging any unconscious bias that is often interjected throughout the recruiting process.

A blind CV will not include any personal details which refer to the applicant’s gender, age, education or ethnicity. Instead, a blind CV documents the applicants work experience and skillset. Another term that references this type of recruitment is blind recruitment or blind hiring. This process is supposed to abolish any type of personal, affinity or unconscious bias… but does it work?

According to Jozsef Blasko, Talent Management Director and HR Business Partner Transmission & Distribution at TAQA GLOBAL – it does not. “Blind recruitment is a very stupid way of trying to eliminate bias. The whole point of recruitment is to take everything into account, so using blind recruitment as an equal opportunities approach defeats the very purpose of hiring.”

Blasko’s comments can be seen as quite controversial, especially when reviewing his economic and social standing. Organisations such as London-based PR agency Dynamo and Professional services firm EY have been strong supporters of the process since the mid-noughties. Both practice blind recruitment – with Dynamo going as far as to not accepting CV’s and instead, getting applicants to answer questions based on which experience and interest in the role. The answers were then shared with the recruitment team who then reached out to successful applicants. 

With organisations supporting the process and others fundamentally against it, it can be a tricky topic to address. A strong argument for blind recruitment is that the process tackles multiple unconscious biases which can be triggered by even innocuous personal details.  In a paper written in 2004 entitled Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination – it is documented that applicants with “white-sounding” names were 50 per cent more likely to reach the interview stage. “…these results imply that a white applicant should expect on average one callback for every 10 ads he or she applies to; on the other hand, an African American applicant would need to apply to about 15 different ads to achieve the same result.”

The key is to remember that challenging bias in the recruitment process alone will do nothing to create lasting change. It’s essential that individuals within the company are trained to recognise their own bias and prejudice so that underrepresented candidates do not face double standards or disproportionate scrutiny as they work to fulfil their ambition.

Blind CVs could help address the pipeline issue but they will do nothing to address belonging in your company culture. It remains vital to take a holistic approach and ensure each person understands how their words and actions contribute to creating a more equitable culture.

Activities to try in your team

  • In your next team meeting or all hands. Invite folks to share experiences of where diversity initiatives helped them e.g. scholarships or awards. Remind your community of the value in differences and how very talented people could lose out on opportunities it these initiatives didn’t exist.
  • Re-framing constructive feedback through the lens of bias. Consider a time when you were judged at face value, did a client arriving at a meeting mistake you for a junior member of the team, or even worse, were you at a networking event where someone mistook you for event staff instead of a delegate? How did that snap judgement make you feel? What snap judgements are made when reviewing applications, not just for open roles but also internal opportunities?
  • Think about your last 1:1. What are the differences in your lived experiences and what can you do to gain greater compassion and empathy for the other side of the table?

New habits to make a difference

  • Review your current recruitment processes: what efforts are you taking to challenge bias?
  • Review your current screening processes: are you satisfied with the level of diversity? Can you make diversity jobs boards essential?
  • Review your company culture through the lens of belonging: is there a balance of identities at every level from the top down? If not, why not? Are you actively challenging the status quo to address this?
  • Look at Square’s RISE program and consider whether an initiative like this could help you reach your goals.

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