You’ve probably read articles explaining how implicit bias shows up early in the hiring process—even before the interview. Resumes with “white-sounding” names get 50% more callbacks than those with “black-sounding” names, for example.
After reading how effective blind auditions were at helping orchestras reduce gender bias, a number of leading business thinkers have recommended that companies adopt a blind hiring process, hoping to adjust behavior to reduce bias.
This means stripping resumes of information that could trigger implicit bias, including names, religious affiliations, and gender-identifying information. Hiring managers (or recruiters) review resumes without these details and then decide who gets interviews. We’ve been using this best practice with our clients since 2017.
What it is not
First, let’s stop calling them “blind” resumes or “blind” processes. This misnomer obscures what we’re actually doing, which is making it easier for hiring managers to see what they really need to see: talent, accomplishments, and experience.
What we are doing is removing information that clouds their vision. We’re getting rid of tainted information, cleaning up the process, and making the truly important information clearer. We’re scrubbing away the useless data. “Clear” or “highlighted” processes might be more accurate terms.
This is, however, limited to the resume-viewing process. Hiring managers eventually see candidates via video or in person. We can scrub a resume, but we aren’t seeking an entirely “blind” process, like that of an orchestra.
What it is
When we share a resume with our client, it is missing a few of the usual data points. You won’t see:
- Names: Removing names eliminates data that could potentially communicate race and gender. It also reduces other implicit biases, like class and education discrimination.
- Sorority or fraternity information: This information implies gender, and removing it also helps combat affinity bias.
- Religious-specific information for volunteer activities: The intention is highlighting the charitable work experience and de-emphasizing the specific religious communities it was centered around.
- Any other details that could unintentionally flag a person’s gender, ethnic heritage, religion, or race and prevent them from getting their fair chance at an interview.
We can’t remove all traces of identifying data since some important information, such as alma matter, could hint at country of birth, gender, or race, and dates and years at companies can hint at age. But we do as much as we can to ensure a scrubbed, fair resumes process.
If you are interested in learning more about this process and why we do it, chat with me on Twitter: @anikalehde. And check out these resources:
- Is Blind Hiring the Best?, NY Times
- Why Diversity Programs Fail, Harvard Business Review
- What Companies Use Blind/Anonymous Resumes and What Benefits Have They Reported?, Cornell University
- How Blind Recruitment Works and Why You Should Consider It, Fast Company
- Minorities Who ‘Whiten’ Job Resumes Get More Interviews, Harvard Business School
- New Study Confirms Depressing Truth About Names and Racial Bias, Huffington Post