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Unconscious bias: Can blind hiring improve D&I?

Improving diversity and inclusion is high on the priorities list for many organisations. But expressing a commitment to D&I and actually being able to achieve targets are two very different things. To make real change happen, businesses need to drill down into their hiring practices.

One much-discussed method for improving diversity in the workplace is blind hiring.

For newcomers to the term, blind hiring refers to removing personal and identifiable information from job applications. For example, he candidate’s name, gender, age, race and other characteristics that could lead to unconscious biases during the initial screening. Blind hiring is a standard practice already used by government, civil service and other public sector organisations, who have a commitment to fair and open recruitment processes.

Unconscious bias is where we as humans may tend to unconsciously favour people who look like or who are similar to us, to the detriment of a diverse range of other candidates.

There are a few reasons this can be a problem. For example, organisations can end up with a homogenous workforce made up of people from similar backgrounds, who have a similar perspective on life. This can stifle innovative and creative thinking, without a broader range of life experiences, perspectives and cultures around the table.

And of course, it also unfairly limits opportunities for disabled people, older workers, people from minority ethnic backgrounds, members of the LGBTQ+ community and many others. This is a loss for your business too, when you could be benefiting from the value of skills, ideas, knowledge and abilities a more diverse workforce can bring.

But does blind hiring actually work?

In essence, the answer is yes, assuming the changes at ‘root cause level’ are being made as well.  Otherwise, any impact of blind hiring on recruitment processes will be short lived. It’s likely that efforts will soon run out of steam because the firm rooted ‘supply’ of more diverse candidates is simply not there.

Blind hiring practices can have an impact on mitigating unconscious bias, ensuring decisions are made solely on a candidate’s qualifications, skills, and experiences.

Over time, this will impact the make-up of an organisation’s workforce. When combined with other D&I strategies, it can positively improve inclusion and minimise institutional bias, which can lead to self-sustainable, perpetual diversity.

Blind hiring can also attract a wider range of candidates who feel more confident in a fair evaluation process.  This in turn, will boost a company’s reputation and help to accelerate their image as an inclusive employer.

However, it’s essential to recognise that blind hiring is just one part of a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy. Companies should also address bias in other stages of the employee lifecycle, promote inclusive practices, and continuously monitor and improve their diversity efforts.

Need help with your hiring strategy? Contact our expert team here at Bailey Montagu.

Andrew Linger