The Prime Minister in a very recent speech cited research showing that people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get job call-backs as people with ethnic-sounding names. He went on to say that he wants to see an end to discrimination and to “finish the fight for real equality in our country today”. Following on the civil service chief executive has stated that his organisation will use “name-blind applications” for a wide range of external applications and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is to promote the benefits of “blind CVs”.
This rhetoric and extra bureaucracy is the last thing needed and sounds like an attack on management competence and HR capability. One would think that discrimination is rife in the workplace and that is far from the truth. Developing legislation, good management and HR practice and the need for organisations to secure talent to grow and be highly competitive have made organisations more diverse than ever, for example
- In quarter 2, 75% of employment growth was from non-UK nationals
- 75% of employment growth over the last year was accounted for by non-UK citizens
- Over the last year the number of non-UK nationals working in Britain increased by 257,000 to 3.1 million while the number of working UK nationals increased by 84,000 to 27.7 million
- Since 1997 the proportion of employment accounted for by non-UK nationals has climbed from 3.7% to 10.3%
- The PwC women in work league tables show women in work to be at the highest level since 2000 and the UK stands at 14 out of 27 in the league table. Women in work have increased from 53% in 1971 to 67% in 2013 while the proportion of men in work has declined from 92% in 1971 to 76% in 2013
- 11% of the UK working population is from ethnic minorities while the non-white British population stands at 9%
- During quarter 2 the unemployment rate in the UK was 5.5% which comprised white British at 5% and all ethnic minorities at 6%
- The FTSE 100 companies succeeded in 2015 in meeting a target set by Lord Davies in 2011 to achieve 25% female membership of the board with a figure of 31.3%
- The HR Most influential HR practitioners (just announced) of the last decade was split 50-50 between men and women
- Employment Tribunal claims for discrimination (sex, race, religion and religious belief) fell by 33.5% over the three years to 2011/12, a fall from 24,900 claims in 2009/10 to 16,540 in 2011/12 and in 2011/12 less than 3% of claims at Tribunal were successful. These figures were taken prior to the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in 2013 which have resulted in a 70% reduction in Tribunal claims
These statistics suggest to me that the UK workforce is increasingly becoming more diversified and I am convinced that has helped the UK to recover from the 2008 recession at a faster rate than many European countries.
‘Name-blind recruitment’ is neither needed nor does it fit with many important employment practices. For instance employee referral programmes are a very important method of hiring for a great many organisations in the UK. Organisations take comfort from the fact that well established employees are prepared to vouch for a friend or relative to join the organisation. Ex-employees is another important hiring route as are a range of other attraction programmes that simply wouldn’t work with a name-blind recruitment approach such as open-days; social media sources; ‘head-hunting’ just to mention a few.
Recruitment Agencies have codes of practice to follow which prevent discrimination and from my experience recruitment consultant’s work very closely with their clients to determine needs so that they may find the best candidate. Recruitment Agencies depend on successful track records to win repeat and or new business. For them knowledge, skills, experience and overall competence are the issues that count not the name of the candidate, gender or ethnic background.
The government and professional organisations should be praising managers, recruiters and HR Practitioners for the excellent work they have done in recent years to improve diversity instead of wishing to add more bureaucracy into the workplace. The vast majority of SMEs will turn their nose up at such suggestions as name-blind CVs and get on with successful operation of their organisations. This country needs its businesses, large and small, to be more productive and competitive on both a national and international level. What will help them to do that is less bureaucracy and more freedom to manage all of their resources fairly and in such a way as to ensure a sustainable future.
By Dr Hugh Billot – Managing Partner Billot & Associates
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