Blind Applications

by Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, Race on the Agenda 

UK Government research shows that people with non-English sounding names have to make 74% more applications to get a job interview than those with English-sounding names, even though they have similar qualifications, experience and CVs. Because of this some organisations have developed a procedure for “blind applications”. All reference to the names of the candidates are removed from the applications before they go to the shortlisting panel and other decision-making panels.  This procedure is increasingly being seen as good Equal Opportunities recruitment practice and there is some evidence that it is increasing the numbers of BAMER applicants who get through to the interview stage.  Of course the process is not fool-proof and for those people who have arrived more recently as migrants in the UK their previous employment, educational or academic details may sometimes make it clear that they are unlikely to be white British.

At a recent conference of the Realise European Partnership http://realise2020.wordpress.com/ held at the European Committee of the Regions  in Brussels, there was significant interest in this way of dealing with applications from representatives of some of the other  European member states. Representatives from the other partner organisations in 8 EU member states  conceded that they all had serious problems with employers discriminating against job applications from migrants and refugees based on their names. The question was asked about how common such blind application practice is in the UK. This was a difficult question to answer and it would be useful to hear your views about how your organisation deals with this issue if at all. Of course it remains the case that organisations that are pioneering this kind of approach may be precisely those who already take diversity and equality seriously and so might be the least likely organisations to actively discriminate against applicants on the basis of their  non-English sounding names.