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New Scheme hoped to tackle discrimination against job seekers

Published 31 October 2015

A government-backed scheme aims to tackle workplace discrimination by using ‘name blind’ applications.

The initiative will mean the applicant’s name is not revealed when they apply for a job.

It is hoped the idea will help to prevent bias against job seekers with ethnic-sounding or uncommon names, based on stereotypes. The goal is that it should also help to ensure job offers are made based on potential and not ethnicity.

However, the effectiveness of the plan is questionable because although it will ensure the process of drawing up a shortlist if fair and reasonable, an employer will still have to interview candidates face-to-face.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against job seekers because of race - this includes the different elements of colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origin. The law applies at every stage of the recruitment process, whatever the size of the organisation.

The scheme aims to put an end to what Prime Minister David Cameron called ‘disgraceful discrimination’ – where employers reject CVs based on reading an individual’s name.

Previous research revealed that ethnic minority job applicants had to send nearly twice as many applications as their counterparts with white sounding names before receiving either an invitation to an interview or an encouraging phone call.

The pledge will see the government making good on a promise made during Conservative Party Conference in Manchester last month, where Mr Cameron said: “One young black girl had to change her name to Elizabeth before she got any calls to interviews. That, in 21st-century Britain, is disgraceful.”

Organisations that have already signed up to the initiative include the Civil Service, Teach First, HSBC, Deloitte, Virgin Money, KPMG, BBC, NHS, Learndirect and local authorities.

Challenging uninformed bias makes good business sense and there is potential for name blind applications to be used more extensively, for example with apprenticeships and CVs.

Business in the Community's race equality campaign, Race for Opportunity, will next month publish some of its findings of the largest race and employment survey in the UK shedding further light on the state of diversity across various industries.

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