How to reduce discrimination in the recruitment process

Following the recent case of Kpakio v Virgin Atlantic and the issue of possible racial discrimination in the recruitment process, governmental organisations and employers alike are considering how to “level the playing field” when it comes to the recruitment process. A recent article in the Guardian discusses the possibilities.

In December 2012 the all-parliamentary group on race and community found that women who “anglicised” their names on job applications were able to send half as many job applications as those who didn’t before they got asked for an interview.

Employment agencies, who are often involved at the beginning of any recruitment process, find that their clients either ignore CVs with an unusual or foreign name, or even give verbal instructions as to the type of candidate they want even if these exchanges are not politically correct and in breach of equality legislation.

As a candidate you assume that a recruiter or employment agency will be working hard on your behalf to secure a job, but the reality is that many CVs with non-British names do not even make it as far as the potential employer.

The Runnymede Trust, on behalf of the all-party parliamentary group, has asked the government to consider an action plan to encourage anonymised application forms.

The City of Helsinki has introduced such a scheme whereby anonymous CVs are used when recruiting staff, and have found that this levels the playing field for candidates. However the same scheme was abandoned in France as even if the CVs were anonymised, the quality of English language or indications of a disadvantaged backgrounds is harder to redact.

The government has started to take some steps in order to reduce discrimination in the workplace, including the introduction of a social mobility business compact which has been adopted by blue-chip UK companies including BP, Tesco and Barclays.  This scheme’s objective is to ensure companies “recruit openly and fairly ensuring non-discrimination, including increased use of name-blank and school-blank applications.”