Equality of Opportunity Targeted

The UK government has decided to implement changes in several large institutions such as HSBC, the NHS and the Civil Service. It is hoped that removing names from applications will remove any potential bias and will allow applicants to be chosen on their own personal agenda, without any bias impeding the choice.

There are hopes that ‘name blind’ recruitment will lead to greater diversification of the workplace. The assumption is that those from ethnic minority backgrounds will have less chance at success due to discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious in the British workplace.

David Cameron outlined the fact that research indicated that those with ‘white sounding names’ were twice as likely to get a phone call inviting them to take an interview than those with non-white sounding names.

There are two points that will likely be addressed in light of this statistic. First, businesses can benefit from hiring the best talent without having any prejudice involved in the decision making process.  The other issue is that in a society which professes egalitarian values, the hiring process puts those who are from different backgrounds at a distinct economic disadvantage.

It has long been contended that businesses which celebrate and encourage diversity perform better than homogenous establishments. Evidence from McKinsey, a global management firm in London corroborates this notion.

The research from McKinsey suggests that ‘companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians’.

The UK government has been actively attempting to improve diversity and to eliminate discrimination.

Some critics have pointed out that the ‘name blind’ recruitment process is useless as the applicant’s identity will become apparent at the next stage of recruitment.  However, it is hoped that if applicants get past the initial screening then they will have an equal opportunity and will allow them a chance to meet face to face and to demonstrate what they can bring to the company.

Evidence suggests that this is the case, as the system has been used in other countries. If a tangible difference is made then it is possible that this measure might be imposed on a mandatory basis.

Enthusiasm for the voluntary scheme has been limited so far. According to the Scotsman, the current take-up of the pledge is also limited. The organisations include employers that employ 1.8 million people in the UK in total. This figure represents less than 6 per cent of the UK workforce. Nevertheless, as a new initiative it could easily gain momentum and become more widespread, especially if proven to be beneficial to businesses.

Written By:

Daniel James




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