To prevent unconscious bias, should personal identifiers be removed on résumés before line managers review them?
Yes, says Ian Doyle (pictured left), general manager of human resources at Bank of Queensland (BOQ).
Over the course of the past two years at BOQ, we’ve been introducing a range of measures to reduce the diversity divide in senior management.
We recently started removing all identifiers – including name, age, gender and address – from résumés submitted for senior management roles.
We’re doing this because research studies have shown that people tend to hire similar people; we tend to ‘hire ourselves’. This means you can end up with a leadership team of a particular age, gender and ethnicity that unconsciously hires people similar to itself.
We genuinely want to instil a diverse workforce at BOQ, as research shows that diversity improves creativity, innovation and effective decision-making. It’s also important when you run a customer business that the people making the decisions reflect the customers you serve, which is a mix of genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds and ages.
Our objective in removing identifiers is to remove any unconscious bias so people can make recruitment decisions purely on the basis of competency. We’re expecting this approach will generate a stronger pool of candidates, including females, making it through to the face-to-face interview rounds.
This solution isn’t perfect. It’s still possible for unconscious bias to come in at the interview stage. However, it’s the old story of progress, not perfection. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different outcomes. So we’ve introduced a range of measures that will collectively bring about change, including diversity targets, because what gets measured gets done.
Having the right sentiment is not enough. You must have commitment from the top and established measures and practices so everyone is clear on what you’re driving to achieve.
No, says Hayley Crealy (pictured right), director of Talent Path.
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to leave personal identifiers on résumés.
From a jobseeker’s perspective, applying for a new position is an emotional process. People want to feel they are not just a number and the recruitment process is a personal one. What’s more personal than our name? It’s at the heart of our personal brand; it’s our unique identifier.
Jobseekers are now, more than ever, very aware of their own reputation and reach within their industry network. They rely on their networks to secure positions, which can only be done by developing a strong personal brand. Removing personal identifiers from CVs affects those who have made a considerable effort to build their own personal brand within their industry.
From the hiring manager’s perspective, networks and personal connections are now a way of life, largely due to social media. Most decision-makers want to ensure there is no previous history or link, positive or negative, before they meet with a potential employee, and this linking can only be done by way of noting personal details.
Excluding identifiers on résumés is buying into unconscious bias with a simple band-aid fix, rather than addressing more overarching diversity issues that may exist. We work in a global workforce and companies need to have broader anti-discrimination and diversity policies in place. Companies must then train, support and develop their decision-makers on inclusive recruitment, as well as genuinely and passionately driving it from the top down to achieve real change. Removing personal identifiers seems to be a short-sighted view.
But it’s an interesting debate. It triggers the conversation about hiring to achieve diversity in workplaces, which can only be a positive step.
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