Should CV’s be anonymised to increase diversity in the workplace?

Managing diversity in the workplace is a complex issue, and one that has seen fantastic improvements in recent years with clear targets around diversity and open accountability through reporting on progress. But what if there was another way to more naturally achieve a diverse workforce?

Certainly the statistics showing the lack of diversity in senior positions are striking and demonstrate just how bad the UK’s diversity problem is. In 2017, the CIPD reported that BAME employees hold just 1 in 16 management positions, despite one in eight employees identifying as BAME* and the percentage of women in senior leadership roles was only 22% in 2018.

So how can we make quick and significant inroads in addressing these problems? My belief is that it isn’t deliberate sexism or racism specifically causing these problems, but rather unconscious bias during the hiring process helping to reinforce the status quo and further delay representative diversity in the workplace.Even when an employer believes they are selecting the most qualified candidates, managers often have a tendency towards candidates who share characteristics with themselves, even if another candidate is equally qualified and experienced. This tendency is at a completely unconscious level, so called unconscious bias.From a hiring perspective it can also seem like a safer bet for a hiring manager to choose candidates that look or sound like the existing workforce.

The anonymisation of CVs, where information like name, age and gender is removed from the candidate details available to a hiring manager, can have a big impact on removing the possibility of these types of bias and help to increase diversity in the workforce.This is a large part of why I co-founded Real Links, a software platform for companies that creates anonymised profiles of candidates generated from the LinkedIn, Facebook or Outlook contacts of existing employees. These candidates can then be referred to roles by employees at the company, however unlike a normal referral scheme, the anonymisation aspect ensures that the candidates with the most relevant skills and experience are interviewed for a role and our clients don’t just end up with a look-a-like workforce.

This offers a viable alternative to hard quotas around diversity which can give the impression that successful candidates have been given a job due to their gender, ethnicity or background, rather than the skills, experience and merit. By rewarding and incentivising anonymised employee-generated referrals, recruitment costs are reduced, retention is increased and the chances of hires going to the person who is best qualified for the job is also more likely. Social and cultural fitAsking current employees for recommendations opens a company up to an untapped resource when hiring for a new position.

Research shows that referred candidates are 55% faster to hire, compared with employees sourced through career sites* and, after two years, retention of referred employees is 45% compared to 20% from job boards****.

These compelling statistics demonstrate that employee referrals are something that every company should consider when hiring, as it helps to increase compatibility between candidate and company. Engagement of existing employees is also boosted through these programmes.
Policy positive

Diversity will continue to be an issue in companies unless we do something drastic to fix it. But there are better ways than setting hard targets, by giving employees the chance to refer people for jobs, companies can positively and more naturally achieve diversity over the short to medium term.

HR directors have the ability to combat workplace diversity. How they do it is in their hands; by setting targets and recruiting to meet them, or engaging with their staff, avoiding bias and hiring for skills and experience alone.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *