BBC’s plan to make it­self less posh: Ban de­grees from CVs

Scottish Daily Mail - - Weekender - By Kather­ine Rush­ton

‘Anonymised re­cruit­ment’

THE BBC is delet­ing any men­tion of a univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion from the CVs of peo­ple who ap­ply for jobs.

The bizarre ini­tia­tive means stu­dents who spend three years study­ing at a cost of £9,000 a year will no longer be able to use their de­gree to im­press bosses at the Cor­po­ra­tion.

The plan is de­signed to stop the BBC be­ing too ‘posh’ – as damn­ing fig­ures con­firmed its staff are twice as likely as the av­er­age Bri­ton to come from priv­i­leged back­grounds.

Some 61 per cent of staff have par­ents who were se­nior man­agers or pro­fes­sion­als – more than twice the na­tional av­er­age. And 17 per cent of BBC staff and 24 per cent of man­agers went to pri­vate schools, com­pared to 7 per cent in the wider pop­u­la­tion.

BBC boss James Pur­nell – a pri­vately ed­u­cated Ox­ford grad­u­ate – said yes­ter­day the Cor­po­ra­tion was re­mov­ing any trace of a per­son’s de­gree from CVs, in or­der to guard against bias.

He said: ‘We are now do­ing anonymised re­cruit­ment so you take off the name and you take off the de­gree. It’s some­thing lots of or­gan­i­sa­tions are do­ing – across ac­coun­tancy, Me­dia and Tech­nol­ogy Editor across law – and the the­ory, which I think is right, is that you can get that ev­i­dence in other ways.’

Mr Pur­nell said can­di­dates will be as­sessed in other ways – for ex­am­ple, with ques­tion­naires, ‘com­pe­tency’ tests and in­ter­views.

But while lawyers and ac­coun­tants re­quire cer­tain pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions to prac­tise, there is no ba­sic ed­u­ca­tional re­quire­ment to work in the tele­vi­sion sec­tor – mean­ing many ap­pli­cants rely on their stud­ies to set them apart.

Peo­ple ap­ply­ing for jobs at the BBC are in­vited to sub­mit their CV as they nor­mally would, but the Cor­po­ra­tion then au­to­mat­i­cally deletes their names, en­tire ed­u­ca­tional back­ground and ad­dress.

De­grees and ed­u­ca­tional back­ground will not be dis­closed if an ap­pli­cant gets to the in­ter­view or as­sess­ment stage, but an in­ter­viewer will have the dis­cre­tion to dis­cuss it if they deem it to be rel­e­vant. The scheme was launched last year for be­tween 250 and 300 jobs, cov­er­ing tens of thou­sands of ap­pli­ca­tions. It has now been rolled out to the rest of the BBC, al­though re­cruiters for more se­nior jobs do not have to use it if they don’t want to.

Mr Pur­nell – a for­mer Labour Cabi­net sec­re­tary who now earns £295,000 a year – added that he would also ‘love’ to in­tro­duce new so­cial class tar­gets to com­bat the BBC’s ten­dency to­wards hir­ing priv­i­leged peo­ple.

‘We don’t have tar­gets on so­cioe­co­nomic [back­grounds] but we’re think­ing about it…We would love to have a tar­get, we would be very happy to do that,’ he said.

He added that the oc­cu­pa­tion of the par­ents of staff seemed to be the best pre­dic­tor of so­cial priv­i­lege. The BBC’s in­ter­nal sur­vey of staff found that more than half (52 per cent) have par­ents who were de­gree-ed­u­cated – a fig­ure ris­ing to 55 per cent among man­agers.

The bias to­wards priv­i­lege is at its worst in the BBC’s news and cur­rent af­fairs di­vi­sion, and at its London head­quar­ters. Peo­ple who work in the re­gions are more likely to have gone to state school. k.rush­ton@dai­ly­

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