The law is clear. Both federally and provincially, human rights legislation prevents discrimination for purposes of employment on the basis of prohibited grounds. The prohibited grounds, as defined within each piece of legislation, include (and are not limited to) race, religion, colour, place of origin, and national or ethnic origin.
What is also clear is the gap between the standard as expressed by the legislative requirements and the level of performance exhibited by many Canadian organizations. Unfortunately, the poor performance of these organizations confirms that ongoing discrimination based on ethnicity or race continues to exist in hiring processes and practices.
Certainly, we would like to think that most Canadian companies do not have overt discriminatory practices. The issues of unconscious bias or cultural perceptions, however, continue to get in the way of sound performance throughout the recruitment process. It does not matter if the discrimination is overt or unintended. The end result is that qualified and capable individuals may not be selected, primarily because of their ethnic origins. A candidate’s ethnic origins may be identified, quite easily, by their name.
In order to address this particular performance gap, the federal government has implemented a process of ‘name-blind’ recruitment as a pilot project.
As noted in the article, the federal government initiated the process of name-blind recruitment based on statistical analysis from a data-based employment research project. According to the article, the research provides significant evidence that persons with Asian-sounding names have fewer opportunities to participate in the recruitment process than counterparts with Anglo names.
In this case, the data speaks for itself.
In addition to addressing the unconscious bias issue, the federal government’s move to using neutral recruitment practices shows us how data-based decision making can be implemented in order to improve organizational performance. Changing the recruitment practice is not something that should be done on intuition. It should be done with a fact-based perspective, using data-driven evidence that can be implemented and monitored to evaluate ongoing performance.
It is time to close the gap.
- As the recruitment specialist for your organization, how would you convince your current employer to adopt the practice of name-blind recruitment?
- As a candidate, how comfortable would you be if you knew your resume was being reviewed without your name on it?
- Do you have experience or evidence of a candidate being excluded for a position on the basis of unintended/intended bias? What would you do differently now that you have awareness of issues linked to potential bias?