Can Blind Recruitment Help Encourage Diversity?


Some organizations are having great luck cultivating genuine diversity in the workplace through blind recruitment. This strategy requires knowing less and consequently learning more about your candidates. Those two sentiments aren’t mutually exclusive, as they might seem.

RELATED: Workplace Diversity Is The Key To Success in HR

The more that you know about a candidate up front, the less likely you might be to have a diverse employee base. By focusing only on skills, you’ll help eliminate bias and create a rich team where each new employee truly is the best person for the job.

How Blind Recruitment Works

As a recruiter, the more you know about a candidate the better. But maybe some details are better left unsaid, at least in the beginning. Blind recruitment eliminates information that many recruiters would consider fairly important, such as a person’s name, gender and even experience in the field, until after a hire is made.

At its strictest, blind recruitment keeps essentially everything about a candidate secret except for skills. But you can design a strategy that works for your company. For example, Fast Company explains that the U.K. law firm, Clifford Chance, eliminates candidates’ names and the school where they studied law. And in the 70s, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra placed candidates behind a screen so they would only be judged on their ability to play.

Diversity in hiring creates a team that’s better for a company’s bottom line.

Why a New Approach to Diversity Matters

Although recruiters strive to encourage diversity, the statistics reveal that some groups are still dramatically underrepresented in the workplace. In a paper by the Paris School of Economics, University Paris, and the Department of Economics, Stanford University, researchers found that “resumes with African-American and foreign names receive one-third fewer callbacks than resumes with Anglo-Saxon names.” As for women in the corporate world, Fast Company says that they make up only 5 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO slots, even though companies with a woman at the helm deliver “34 percent greater returns to shareholders.”

One issue, however, is that a less diverse workplace is typically more cooperative. That’s according to MIT economists who authored the paper, “Diversity Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm.” But that tendency is perhaps overshadowed by another finding, which is that diverse offices are more productive than those that are more homogenous.

Biases are Inherent in Hiring

No matter how a person strives to see past differences, everyone has biases. The underrepresentation of different groups in the workplace is evidence of it. And while some companies, such as Google, take bias training seriously, Forbes suggests that training and awareness don’t eliminate bias.

Blind recruiting acts as a failsafe against bias. Instead of forming part of an opinion before knowing anything else, recruiters can focus on culture fit, skills and whether or not the candidate is capable of performing the job at a certain level.

Blind recruiting sounds a bit risky, at least on the surface. After all, it’s a recruiter’s job to know as much about every candidate as possible before making a hire. But maybe getting the best fit takes knowing a bit less in order to know more.

Without bias in the way, recruiters can skip over details that don’t matter, such as the way one person spells a name or where another one went to college, and get to the most important information first.

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