Unconscious bias plays a role each time we submit our CV for a job opportunity. It has long been recognised as an issue, for both the candidate and the employer, but is there anything either can do about it?

So let’s start by explaining what unconscious bias is. In its most simple form, it’s the decisions that we make every day on an unconscious basis when it comes to what we think about others. Without knowing, we tend to like people who think like us, look like us and come from similar backgrounds as us; however this can jeopardise a candidates opportunity when it comes to employment.

Factors such as the way you look, your name, the educational institute you went to and more, can all have an unconscious influence on the prospective employer, compelling them to look more or less favourably on an application, regardless of the relative merits of the candidate and their suitability for the role.  Including a photo of yourself on your CV can make you stand out from the pack, but can it also put employers off? Statistics have shown that the rejection rate for CVs with photographs is a whopping 88%. Not only this, but an improper email address can have a negative impact on the employer. Did you know that 76% of CVs are ignored because the email address presented conveys a lack of professionalism?

To combat unconscious bias and achieve a more objective appraisal of an application, more and more employers are embracing a ‘Blind CV’ policy. This means employers are actively implementing measures to obscure a candidate’s photo, race and gender. Even clues about their education are eliminated, making it as anonymous as possible. The objective is to simply focus on the candidate’s experience, skills and achievements and their relevance to the role.

With this new approach arising within a variety of industries, we have identified a handful of companies who have taken on the new policy.

1. Clifford Chance

One of the top law firms, Clifford Chance, has adopted the ‘Blind CV’ policy with an incentive to neutralise any bias towards the country’s leading independent schools.  The staff who conduct the interviews are no longer provided with the candidate’s information, or whether they’re from a state or independent school.

After their first year in operation of the new system, 100 graduate trainees have been employed, from 41 different education institutions – a rise of nearly 30% on the number of educational institutions from previous year’s recruitment system.

2. Deloitte

Professional services firm Deloitte is another to add to the list. They’ve recently revamped their recruitment process, discarding information indicating the school and university which the candidate attended, until just before the job offer is made.

Deloitte’s strategy is to access a more diverse pool of talent, and to improve the development of young people across the UK. Not only this, but the firm have partnered with Rare, a specialist diversity recruitment agency, to recruit more than 1,500 graduates with a range of diversity-friendly tactics.

3. Macfarlanes

Macfarlanes, another law firm, have announced their ‘Blind CV’ policy. The firm revealed that the interviewers will only be made aware of the applicant’s name and nothing else, in an attempt to promote diversity and discourage unconscious bias.

Instead of a ‘traditional’ interview, the candidates are tested on hypothetical scenarios during the assessment, rather than being questioned on their qualifications. Sean Lavin, Macfarlanes Head of Recruitment explains “the CV Blind interview is a whole different animal. Candidates are simply judged on how they perform in the practical test, which shows raw ability, the drive and the grit that will help you survive in the industry”.

Whilst many professional and law firms have taken on the new recruitment strategy, other industries will follow suit. What will be interesting is whether smaller employers adopt similar measures. Watch this space!

Would you like to share your thoughts on the new policy? Have you experienced a blind CV interview? If so, we would love to hear from you!

Enabling Change offer recruitment training, recruitment development and headhunting training courses to ensure your recruiting business is one that thrives in the new age. To find out more about our courses, contact us on 01264 360 234 today.