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Blind Hiring: How Effective Is It in Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace?

Rangam Aug 3, 2023 8:42:08 AM
A picture with employers holding a candidate's resume, showcasing the effectiveness of blind hiring

Blind hiring is a recruitment technique which ’blinds’ a candidate’s socio-demographic and personal information from the recruiting manager, which otherwise may lead to biased hiring decisions. The first blind hiring experiment was reportedly carried out in Boston Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s when musicians started to audition behind a screen, hiding their gender. Blind auditioning led to an increase in the number of female musicians in major symphony orchestras in the US. The number jumped to more than 25% in the 1990s from less than 5% in 1970.

Many recruiters have their own set of beliefs about what a ‘good’ candidate would be like. Our unconscious bias about a candidate’s gender, age, the school they attended, their ethnicity and so on, often results in discriminatory hiring practices because these usually don’t correlate with actual performance. Blind hiring, with the usual biases ruled out, can increase workplace diversity by allowing recruiters to be more objective while evaluating a job seeker’s knowledge, skills, and the probability of success. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors Marianne Bertrand and Esther Duflo, in their 2016 research titled Field Experiments on Discrimination, stated that decision-makers who are stressed, rushed, pressured or distracted, are more likely to have stereotyped views than those whose cognitive abilities aren’t similarly constrained.

Blind resumes

In recent times, blind resumes have emerged as a viable solution to overcome the common biases that tend to cloud the judgment of human resource (HR) managers and recruiters after they learn about their candidates’ personal information. A bind resume blocks out the information that has no bearing on the actual skills, knowledge, and personality of the candidate, thereby leading to better and more inclusive candidate screening.

Is if effective?

Blind recruitment means getting down to the basics of the job itself. It involves finding a person who has the capabilities to do the job. A candidate’s nonnegotiable skills to succeed in the job would be the only consideration for the HR manager. Question obviously arises on whether or not the information given on the resume is true. This is where tests come in. Assessments are better indicators of a candidate’s skills than personal interviews. Pre-appointment testing is fair. It saves both time and money and ensures that the company makes a legally defensible hiring decision.

What the experts say

Experts are divided in their opinion on the efficacy of blind hiring to promote objective skill evaluation and reduce bias. Some believe that with the blinding of the socio-demographic and personal information, companies may face a challenge determining if a candidate is a good culture fit. Some recruiters may find it impersonal and difficult to implement on scale. Blind hiring, as a concept, is a great way to remove unconscious bias and promote diversity in an organization. But there are very few jobs where a person can be appointed solely on the basis of a written submission without a personal meeting.

Blind hiring, as a ‘first cut’, may have a positive impact on hiring by objectively pushing the right candidates through the door. This, to an extent, removes errors in human judgment and gets candidates from a diverse cross-section into leadership roles.

Bringing it all together

Most leading employers worldwide are trying to improve their workplace diversity ratio. Blind hiring is one of the several strategies they are relying upon to address issues like discrimination, attrition, and a homogenous workforce.

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