How Blind Hiring Increases Workplace Diversity

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Blind hiring solves a lot of problems. It not only leads to more diversity but it also leads to higher revenue. In this blog, I‘ll describe what blind hiring is and how it shows a clear and tangible Return on Investment.

Research finds that every 1% increase in workplace racial diversity correlates with a 9% increase in sales revenue. McKinsey’s analysis shows that companies with the most diverse executive boards, in terms of women and foreign nationals, have earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) that are 14% higher on average. Other research shows that increased diversity leads to a harder working and more creative workforce. This is an area where blind hiring can really make a difference.

Blind hiring: A definition

Blind hiring is any technique that anonymizes or “blinds” personal information about a candidate from the recruiter or hiring manager that can lead to unconscious (or conscious) bias about the candidate. This bias tends to be unfair and discriminatory because much of the personal information that is presented is generally unrelated to his or her on-to-job performance.

Blind hiring increases workplace diversity by allowing recruiters and hiring managers to be more objective when evaluating a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and potential to succeed, while remaining free from biases related to the candidate’s race, gender, age, and education level.

Blind hiring is gaining more acceptance as part of a larger movement to remove faulty human judgment element that interferes with hiring people that were truly the best candidates in first place. Research featured in the Harvard Business Review found that candidates who were hired based on an algorithm were 50% more likely to be successful on the job than candidates picked based on recruiters’ human judgment.

Blind hiring using resumes

Studies on resume screening have found evidence of human bias. Resumes with White-sounding names receive 30 percent more interviews than identical resumes with African American names. Resumes with old-sounding names were rated as less suitable for the job compared to identical resumes with modern-sounding names.

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Not surprisingly then, the most common blind hiring method being tested is removing candidates’ names and photos from their resumes and online profiles. Other personal information that’s being removed from resumes is information that could reveal a candidate’s age and income level such as their graduation year, college names, and addresses.

Unless you’re using recruitment technology that anonymizes profiles and resumes, however, blinding resumes can be time-consuming or even impossible to do by yourself.

Blind hiring using pre-hire tests

The original blind hiring was conducted by orchestras when musicians started auditioning behind a screen to mask their identity. The results of this blind auditioning increased female musicians in the top five symphony orchestras in the United States from less than 5% in 1970 to 25% in the 1990s.

Today, using a pre-hire test to assess job-related skills and knowledge is a very common practice in some professions (e.g., software development). This type of test can easily be blinded by assigning anonymous candidate ids, as long as candidates can complete the test remotely. Another blind pre-hire test is to get candidates to complete a personality assessment. Research has found that companies that use a personality assessment in their recruitment process have significantly more racially diverse workplace.

Again, if you don’t use a third party software or service that anonymizes and tests your candidates for you, it will be very difficult to “blind” yourself to the candidates using a pre-hire test or assessment.

Blind hiring using interviews

The third method for blind hiring are anonymous interviews. An anonymous interview would be a written take-home Q & A or an interview conducted in real time over chat. Many companies have a hiring process that already involve a take-home portion of the interview process, which can be anonymized by assigning candidates ids.

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However, most hiring processes also include a phone screen and an in-person interview. It’s almost impossible to anonymize a person over a phone call let alone during an in-person interview. The other question we have to ask ourselves is how useful anonymous interviews are in the first place if the job requires a lot of on-the-phone and in-person personal interaction such as sales or customer service.

Blind hiring diversity recruitment metrics

Illustration: diversity recruitment metrics

The success of your blind hiring program should be captured in your diversity recruitment metrics. The easiest way to do this is by focusing on one demographic or group that you want to increase in your recruitment and use that as the basis of determining success.

  • Shortlisting: your candidate shortlisting diversity statistics before and after blind hiring using resumes
  • Testing: your candidate testing diversity statistics before and after blind hiring using pre-hire tests
  • Interviewing: your candidate interviewing diversity statistics before and after blind hiring using interviews
  • Hiring: your candidate hires diversity statistics before and after blind hiring
  • Retention: your employee diversity statistics before and after blind hiring

Key takeaways

  1. Blind hiring is any technique that anonymizes or “blinds” personal information about a candidate from the recruiter or hiring manager that can lead to unconscious (or conscious) bias about the candidate.
  2. Blind hiring increases diversity workplace by allowing recruiters and hiring managers to be more objective when evaluating a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and potential to succeed, free from biases of the candidate’s race, gender, age, and education level.
  3. Currently, tools for blind hiring using resumes and anonymizing pre-hire tests exist, but whether we’ll ever see blind interviewing is still a big question mark.
  4. The success of your blind hiring program should be captured in your diversity recruitment metrics by measuring your diversity statistics for shortlisting, testing, interviewing, hiring, and retention before and after blind hiring.

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