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‘Anonymous’ CVs ahead in public sector recruitment?

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NAMES, ages, genders and even places of education could be removed from CVs when people apply for public sector jobs in an effort to improve diversity and tackle unconscious bias in the workplace.

KATE WRIGHT..Picture:DAVID FERGUSON. (25271864)

The Government of Jersey is currently planning changes to its recruitment practices, and the idea of eliminating some characteristics and applicants’ education histories is being explored.

A Scrutiny panel this week concluded that there was a clear gender pay gap in the Island and has now recommended so-called ‘blind CVs’ are used for public sector recruitment to help improve diversity.

A government spokeswoman told the JEP the matter was already being considered.

‘The Government of Jersey is currently exploring options from a technology and recruitment process perspective that will anonymise candidates’ protected characteristics and education histories as part of the initial application and selection stages of a recruitment process.

‘We are due to consult with the UK civil service who adopted this approach across UK government departments in 2015.

‘As a major employer in the Island, we are also looking at new ways to attract people from all backgrounds to the government. To do this, we need to ensure that nothing in the recruitment process puts up barriers that prevent the best talent from joining us.’

The Scrutiny panel found that in Jersey’s public sector – one of the few examples where local statistics are currently available – men earn an average of 13.6% more than women.

Kate Wright, co-founder of The Diversity Network, which is sponsoring this year’s inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Champion category in the Pride of Jersey Awards, welcomed the concept of blind CVs in the public sector.

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She added that the government and businesses could go even further to remove bias from recruitment and promotion processes by using structured interviews, where all candidates were asked the same questions in the same order, and by employing a diversity manager or taskforce.

‘Simply rolling out a little diversity training and hoping for the best makes very little difference to cultural change and increasing the diversity of your employee base,’ she said.

‘Increasing self-awareness of unconscious bias and starting a conversation about the importance of inclusion with all of your employees is important, but it’s actually very difficult to really change people’s mindsets. Much more effective is to focus on de-biasing your HR processes and procedures, and blind CVs are a very simple way to remove the potential for bias – unconscious or otherwise – in the earliest stages of your recruitment process. It’s simple for all organisations – large, small, public or private – to do.’

But Lorna Pestana, executive director of HR and employment law specialists Law at Work, said while blind CVs may help with reducing discrimination they may not help with the gender pay gap.

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‘The practice of removing identifying features has been prevalent in the UK for a number of years now for reasons of equality but Jersey has not yet caught up, despite the introduction of discrimination legislation over the last six or so years,’ she said. ‘I personally don’t think that removing these features will lead to a balance in pay. It may assist with removing discrimination or unconscious bias at the recruitment and selection stage but gender pay gaps seem to exist within already established employee/employer relationships in cases of promotions, salary increases, bonus payments etc.’

Meanwhile, although the panel stopped short of proposing UK-style mandatory gender pay-gap reporting in Jersey, yesterday a number of politicians who had not been part of the panel voiced their support for such a law in the States.

Among them was Assistant Chief Minister Richard Buchanan, who is vice-chairman of the States Employment Board. He said statistics were needed and the only way to get them would be to put public pressure on employers.

In response, Deputy Louise Doublet, who chaired the gender pay-gap panel and was answering questions in the States on the matter, urged the Constable to work with ministers to bring forward legislation to force employers to report their gender pay gap if he felt that it would make a difference.

The panel – which has warned it would propose such a law if the government did not make progress on diversity – would, she said, support such proposals.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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