Blind hiring signifies eliminating any element, especially on the CV, that could lead to some form of discrimination by the recruiters: name, sex, ethnic origin, age, etc. Is this a good way to increase diversity in employment?
Advocates of blind hiring claim that it helps to avoid bias, conscious or not, and widens the pool of applicants by putting them all on an equal footing.
A new phenomenon and still little studied, this hiring technique has its followers in Europe and North America. The British public service and companies, such as Deloitte or Google specifically, use it.
Here in Canada, the federal government conducted a pilot project on the question in 2017, with mixed results.
“Organizations are more and more proactive on diversity, and the blind CV is one of the tools at their disposal”, explains Denis Morin, CHRP, professor at the Department of Organization and Human Resources of ESG UQAM. He is somewhat skeptical of just how effective this process really is.
“To claim that blind recruitment will work miracles is unfortunately false,” he adds. “The process doesn’t end when you send in your CV. It’s all very well to remove information likely to influence biases or prejudices, but sooner or later in the process, the interviewer will have the candidate in front of him.”
Studies also show that blind hiring could backfire if a company already has affirmative discriminatory policies or targeted hiring policies.
Selecting from neutral CVs would therefore only be the first step in a larger process to put an end to discrimination in employment.
Training and awareness
To grow diversity inside companies, Denis Morin suggests rather to rely on training recruiters.
He recommends standardizing interviews and establishing a realistic balance between the required job capabilities and the professional profile looked for in the candidate.
“We must all be aware that we could have biases,” Denis Morin reminds us. “We must always restrict ourselves to the hiring baseline: What profile are we looking for in terms of skills? What are our operational needs? What are the required skills and qualifications? Period.”
A good awareness of the legal side of recruiting is also needed.
In fact, the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which prohibits discrimination in employment, applies to all steps of the selection process: hiring tests, interviews, referrals, even medical examinations.
“Good training in the legal issues of staff selection is a guarantee of success,” Denis Morin feels. “We must always remember that we’re not infallible in our judgment, and ask ourselves how to make the process as impervious as possible to bias, so as not to eliminate people along the way who could have been very competent.”