Name bias is a discriminatory act that involves a negative judgment or preference for a person’s name. In recruitment, a candidate’s name affects the hiring decision through either conscious or unconscious bias motives.

Taking into account a candidate’s name as a reason not to hire is a prejudice action. Shocking levels of name discrimination occur against job applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds. Research has shown that ethnic minorities with identical CVs as the majority group had to send 60% more applications to receive a call-back.

In some cases, candidates have resorted to changing their name on their CV to eliminate the possibility of unconscious bias. At the risk of being subject to name discrimination, one candidate replaced her Turkish birth name with her middle name Melissa. Immediately she heard back from recruiters and HR managers interested in her job application.

Sadly, employers are not doing enough to stamp out the possibility of name bias. Its evident candidates are being shut out because of their name, with recruiters taking no notice of their skills, experience and ability to perform the job well.

How to reduce name bias

To help reduce unconscious name bias, follow these three preventive steps:

Solution 1: Retrain recruiters to be aware of their own bias

Employers first step to reducing name bias starts internally. Set training days with recruiters to help make them aware of the unconscious bias motives that could potentially drive hiring decisions. Look closely at their reason to hire and prioritise candidate capabilities over the applicant’s personal information.

Create a screening scorecard that contains all the key points a candidate must meet in order to advance to the next stage. This approach leaves little room for bias and removes emotive reasons to hire based on a feeling or gut instinct.

Solution 2: Request the removal of names from future job applications

To reduce the possibility of name bias even further, request that all applicants remove their name from their job application. Many employers are already adopting this approach such as the BBC and Deloitte because it helps recruiters make objective decisions based on skills and experience.

This strategy falls into the blind recruitment category in which organisations are opting for the complete removal of candidate identifying factors such as their name, age, location or length of experience. Choosing to do so, helps provide all job applicants with a fair and equal start to their hiring journey.

Solution 3: Screening technology

Many employers utilise screening technology to review applications and stamp out name bias. Screening algorithms are programmed to match applicants against job vacancies based on key data points related to the job role.

Automated CV screening technology does not take into account any personal and identifiable candidate information. It’s simple to use and can process a high volume of job applicants instantly without additional work from recruiters or candidates.

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