Blind Audition Helps Remove Gender Bias in Recruitment
Process involves masking non-job specific information to help recruiters make unbiased choices
New Delhi: A perfect world would be one without biases of the sort that we associate with workplaces and life in general. Some companies are embracing the concept of “blind audition” to do away with one such powerful bias – gender – according to a recent survey. Management consultancy Capgemini is one such company. Its diversity head Gayathri Ramamurthy said the company is set to adopt blind sieving to prevent bias in the first phase of recruitment.
The process involves masking information on gender, ethnicity, age and other such non-job specific elements related to candidates to help recruiters make unbiased choices.
“IT companies hire in large volumes for which updated technology is a great enabler in recruitment. It’s also cost-effective with scale. Blind hiring is a new idea which we think will pick up,” Ramamurthy said. “But I see an application of a limited nature of this technique in the entire recruitment process,” she qualified.
In the recently concluded study by TimesJobs.com ‘Blind Hiring: Concept, Challenges and Competence’, nearly 60% of Indian employers listed workplace diversity as their prime focus this year.
Software exporter Infosys’ human resources head Richard Lobo said the company gives candidates an option not to disclose information unrelated to the selection process.
“A company’s recruitment process should be designed to give every candidate a fair chance and allow selection on merit. This is done by interviewer training as well as having a strong assessment mechanism. But we rarely encounter a need to hide relevant information from the selection panel,” Lobo said. Consultancy Ernst & Young similarly withholds information on gender when hiring in bulk. Only profiles of candidates are sent forward to recruiters who are trained to overcome biases that affect recruitment. EY’s national director for human resources Sandeep Kohli said that this process will have a limited application in tech companies as well unless they look at hiring on the basis of a written test.
As a first filter in the recruitment process, though, the move can allow companies to improve diversity at workplace, experts said. But companies must be equipped with the right kind of hiring teams with an expertise to gauge candidates based on this technique, they said, pointing out that the importance of face-to-face interviews during the recruiting process cannot be ignored.
Software industry lobby Nasscom’s head of diversity Ashok Pamidi said such hiring is prevalent in the Nordic countries. “In India too, as the law of the land, companies cannot force you to share gender sensitive information initially that can influence their decision. If they do, it’s malpractice. But going forward, it should become a common practice for them,” he said.
As per the TimesJobs.com study, this kind of auditioning will help reduce the gender bias at the workplace which is a prime issue for most participants given that currently there is a huge skill gap in the workplace. Nearly 60% of the respondents in the study cited gender bias as a problem.
Moorthy K Uppaluri, managing director of Randstad India, said that the hiring process must be comprehensive enough to involve candidate assessment on the basis of aspects related to the job and culture fit to ensure that the right talent is inducted into the right job to enhance productivity.
Another consultant said blind hiring could be a successful filter as the first layer, to eliminate biases at the initial stages of recruitment. “If it is successfully implemented, we would need to see how one judges the emotional intelligence of a candidate through blind hiring too,” said Zubin Zack, chief recognition strategist at OC Tanner India.
He said that while this may be a good move, it is unlikely to curb biases which are an inherent in society and may come into picture even after the person is hired. Poonam Barua, founder chairman of Forum for Women in Leadership, said such biases will only disappear once employees are penalised for these offences. “These are quick-fix solutions for human resource officers. They don’t aim to resolve the actual problem,” she said, stressing that the bias must be busted at its very foundation.