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A recent article published by the BBC found that a CV with an English name was offered three times the number of interviews than an applicant with a Muslim name.  The fake candidates, Adam and Mohammed, applied for 100 jobs as business managers within advertising sales in London.  After two and a half months ‘Adam’ was offered three times more interviews than ‘Mohamed’.  If you don’t recall, ‘blind CVs’ hit the press in October 2015 when David Cameron announced that organisations would pledge to recruit on a name blind basis as a means of addressing discrimination.

A Blind CV Has All Of The Personal & Contact Information Removed

A blind CV, in essence, is a CV with all of the personal and contact information removed – for example, name, DOB and address (think along the lines of the ITV show The Voice where contenders are judged based on their voice alone). This means that a candidate can be evaluated without any biases coming into play. It’s quite common now for name, marital status and date of birth to be omitted from CVs and applications but, this new government initiative is primarily to reduce other forms of discrimination which seemingly occur when applications are received from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In Theory, They Should Remove Unconscious Bias From The Recruitment Process

It is our own thoughts and beliefs that inadvertently influence the ways in which we recruit and whether you care to recognize it about yourself or not, you will have individual biases. Whilst some of us may be conscious of those thoughts and beliefs, the majority of us aren’t and an unconscious bias poses a threat because these thoughts are automatic, based on the way we were brought up, the culture we live in and our social environment (the danger being that most of the time we don’t even realise we’re having them). As an example, if you had 2 CV’s on your desk one of which attended university in Leeds and the other in Brighton (which happens to be the university that you attended) would your natural bias be to interview the candidate who had been to Brighton University?…. be honest with yourself here!

Lots Of Blue Chip Companies Have Already Introduced Blind CVs

There is certainly an increasing trend towards incorporating blind CV’s into recruitment processes (a number of big name employers including BBC, NHS and Virgin Money have already done so) and there’s some evidence that indicates that it also impacts diversity. According to Earnst and Young their decision to remove all academic and education details and ban CVs from its trainee application process has proved successful in diversifying the company’s workforce.

But What Are The Pros & Cons To Using Blind CVs?


1. It can be good for your company’s reputation.  Being seen as an employer who truly embraces the concept of equality can be a great way to attract candidates.

2. Candidates have more confidence in submitting an application. Today, candidates are looking for what differentiates your company from others. Having a blind CV recruitment approach is likely to encourage more applicants to put their CV forward.

3. The organisation is less likely to face claims of discrimination.  Although there are no guarantees, having a blind CV recruitment policy is likely to reduce the chances of your business being accused of discrimination during the recruitment process.


1. The Interview process is still subjective and you will only be papering over the bias initially.  Even if a candidate is able to make if past the first part of a screening process to be offered an interview it does not shield them from possible prejudices that might be there when they get to interview stage. Whilst anonymity can benefit candidates at application stage by removing discrimination, you can’t run an entire recruitment process without disclosing a candidate’s name.

2. You can’t Google candidates.  With social media playing an increasingly large part in how we recruit a name on a CV often offers the opportunity to do some research on a candidate including their experience, achievements and recommendations (and other claims in their CV) before you meet with them face to face. Without a name, you are somewhat going into an interview ‘blind’ yourself.

So, although there is clearly a lot of evidence to suggest that it is harder for people with a ‘non-white’ sounding name to secure an interview, are blind CV’s really the solution? The obvious response to this seemingly unsolvable problem (and trust me this has been on ongoing topic for several years now) is to address the roots of the bias, educate people and attempt to wipe out discrimination all together. Easier said than done, given we still see discrimination despite tens of years of anti-discrimination measures and legislation!

What is clear is that something needs to change if we’re going to achieve the right balance when it comes to recruitment but what this balance will be remains to be seen. As for now, it’s certainly a topic to watch out in 2017.
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