A shot in the dark

Blind recruitment an unnecessary nuisance

Illustration by Evan Brien

Illustration by Evan Brien

In an ideal utopian society, everyone would be treated as equals, regardless of ethnic background, religion, name, gender identity or any of the other numerous labels we as humans adorn in an attempt to distinguish one person from another.

Unfortunately, with the way things have gone south of the border, our idealistic society is but a small glimpse on the horizon.

Although, any changes to improve equality, however small, can still help to further humankind’s cause. Some changes, on the other hand, are rather arbitrary.

Blind recruitment is the premise of removing all indicators that could be related to ethnicity or religion, including names, from the job application process.

This sounds like an inherently good idea. If we can remove identifiers from résumés and applications, then, in theory, everyone will have an equal opportunity to obtain a job, and the application will run entirely on the premise of the job seeker’s education and experience.

But, boiling such a complex issue down to such a generalized statement is where the proverbial fork in the road lies.

According to Sharlene Massie, CEO and visionary of About Staffing Ltd., a recruitment agency based in Calgary and Edmonton, blind recruitment simply isn’t necessary.

“It is rare that applicants are actually discriminated based on name, age and nationality,” said Massie.

And while equality is something that we as a society should strive for, blind recruitment is not the correct approach we should take.

That’s not to say the intentions behind the proposition are in any way heinous. In reality, it seeks to provide equal opportunity to all job seekers, and that’s a good thing.

According to an article by David Common published by CBC on Feb. 25, 2016, blind recruitment was introduced as the standard in Britain in October 2015.

The article goes on to say that Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen suggests Canada should follow suit.

Forbes published an article in June 2014 with a similar tone. The writer of the article, Ruchika Tulshyan, suggests people with foreign sounding names should change them to get a job.

Her conclusion comes from a French study that found people with foreign sounding names received fewer callbacks from their résumés than those who had a more traditional, French name.

We’ve all heard this yarn before. But, it simply isn’t true.

In today’s world, companies use algorithms that search for keywords in résumés and cover letters to find potential candidates.

“That [will] typically push candidates to the top or bottom of a potential hire, much more than any other reason,” said Massie.

Ultimately, blind recruitment is an unnecessary process that should not be implemented nationwide as a method to combat discrimination. In fact, it could potentially be detrimental to our ideal diverse workplace environment.

“Employers are, in fact, looking for a diverse employee force, so by applying blind, a candidate may actually lose out on opportunities more than the other way around,” said Massie.

“If the employer does not have enough information on a résumé and application, they may bypass it if there are enough other qualified people to choose from where the information is readily available.”

At the end of the day, potential employers, at least the ones worth working for, put far more weight on your SAIT diploma than on the spelling of your name.

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