Recruiting Blind: The Way of the Future?

"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision." – Helen Keller

A few weeks ago, the Guardian shared a post about 'blind recruitment'. As you’d expect (being into recruitment) our ears perked up. The topical article interviewed the CEO of an Australian recruitment agency who spilled the beans on the discriminating remarks she endures from clients who only want to hire specific people- regardless of their ability to do the job. To combat this growing trend from employers, the Australian government launched a 'blind recruitment' initiative- otherwise known 'as anonymous hiring'.

This isn’t a new form of hiring by any means. Our own former PM David Cameron trialled the initiative last year in the UK as a way to bridge the employment gap between ethnic majorities and minorities. CVs were scanned prior to submission and all identifiable remarks were omitted- name, background and heritage- to create an even playing field for all applicants. Ability was put on the forefront, not background.

But what is it? If you, like many, are confused by ‘blind recruitment’ and what it implies then let us explain. Blind recruitment can take many forms- the simplest being to remove identifiable features from a CV. This means that a candidate’s ethnicity or background is not considered when applying for a role. The recruitment concept can also include hiring someone without meeting them prior to employment or having any idea of their physical appearance. Research has suggested that this results in a more diverse workforce with stronger capabilities as sometimes even we are not aware of our own prejudice.

With the world currently embroiled in numerous political, economic and social arguments, this form of hiring has become extremely topical.

To add a new dimension to the mix, a moving story was recently shared on a popular Facebook page. The story told of an American nurse who went to the grocery store in her uniform. Her hair was pink, her arms tattooed and her piercings clearly visible. While checking out, the cashier and other patrons remarked that they couldn’t believe she was a nurse and she would never have been hired in ‘their day’. The American nurse took to Facebook to share her disbelief in these people, who overlooked her ability to do her job and instead were only concerned with her appearance. She questioned the values at the heart of society if this is their primary concern.

The argument for blind recruitment is strong and continuously growing- whether it is concerned with ethnicity, gender or simply appearance. Where once hiring staff was primarily based on a face-to-face meeting, now employers are considering whether putting applicants on an even playing field is the way to go.

With the political landscape continuously changing and the UK now a diverse, cultural country, this recruitment development is a fascinating one.

Posted: 18/7/16

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