‘Name blind’ job applications needed to stop bias

Companies should remove candidates’ names from job applications and offer flexible working from the outset of the recruitment process to create a more dynamic and diverse workforce, reports The Guardian.

In a new report, published on Monday, the CBI will highlight the economic and social challenges facing the UK that have been “thrown into sharp relief by Brexit” and focus on issues of productivity and inclusion.

“With UK productivity second from bottom of the G7, employee engagement is now more than ever crucial to driving productivity. But here too there’s a problem. Of the world’s 12 largest economies the UK ranks ninth for levels of engagement,” said Paul Drechsler, president of the CBI.

“Raising engagement isn’t about slapping another zero on the budget for the staff Christmas party. It’s a complex process which takes time and hard work,” he said.

Philip Hammond, appointed chancellor after the Brexit vote, has vowed to improve Britain’s lacklustre productivity. Data from earlier this month showed UK productivity was 27, 30 and 35 percentage points lower than in France, the US and Germany respectively.

In a speech, Drechsler will highlight the importance of the recruitment process to get people with the correct skills into jobs to increase productivity and make the workplace inclusive.

He described “unconscious bias” as a big challenge. “The first time many come into contact with this in the workplace is during job applications. One of the ways of tackling this is name-blind applications, removing criteria that could unintentionally bias managers and give under-represented groups confidence that their application will be fairly considered,” he said.

The CBI is looking at introducing such a practice and its report comes after a move a year ago by employers such as banking group HSBC, the BBC and accountants KPMG – and the university application scheme Ucas – to commit to disregard an employee’ name. The CBI also cited statistics from the CIPD showing that one in five female jobseekers from an ethnic minority have changed their name on a job application.

“Flexible working can be a vital enabler too. It’s time we stopped seeing flexible working as a ‘bonus for staff’ and started seeing it as something which has clear benefits for employers and employees alike. It helps everyone balance their working lives not just with their responsibilities as parents or carers but also with their wellbeing and interests outside of work,” said Drechsler.