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Major employers sign up to name-blind recruitment

BBC, the NHS, HSBC and Deloitte are some of the organisations to agree to remove names when selecting for interview

Several high-profile organisations have agreed to use name-blind recruitment in an effort to eliminate bias against minorities.

The Civil Service, Teach First, HSBC, Deloitte, Virgin Money, KPMG, BBC, the NHS and learndirect have all signed up, with David Cameron launching the programme on 26 October.

Deloitte, Virgin Money and KPMG have specifically agreed to recruit for graduate and apprentice roles without knowing names in order to ward against discrimination of individuals with, in the words of Cameron, “ethnic-sounding names”. Additionally, all positions advertised through NHS Jobs and health service apprenticeships delivered through the National Careers Service will be subject to the new system.

It is hoped the practice will be spread further across the private sector as a result of being incorporated into CIPD training courses.

David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said that his organisation is "working hard to ensure that [its] talent pool is diverse and reflects the make-up of today’s society".

"We want to show that everyone can thrive, develop and succeed in our firm based on their talent, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any other dimension that can be used to differentiate people from one another," he said. "The introduction of name-blind recruitment processes and school- and university-blind interviews will help prevent unconscious bias and ensure that job offers are made on the basis of potential – not ethnicity, gender or past personal circumstance."

However, Paul Beasley and Jon Taylor, joint CEOs of recruitment firm Transline Group, have warned that name blindness will not solve inequality by itself. “Discrimination and inequality in the recruitment process must be discouraged at every opportunity. A name-blind recruitment process will remove some opportunity for bias, but not all," they said.

“Almost all personal details within an application would need to be removed to prevent any prejudice, but this could prove detrimental for the employer. How a potential candidate fits into an organisation’s culture is often a top concern of the recruiter, and personal details – including hobbies and interests – can give an indication as to how someone would fit in with the team they would be working with.

“There are other methods of encouraging an unbiased recruitment process. Thorough training of those responsible for recruitment in judging applications and awarding roles, including appropriate points-based metrics, can help.”

David Cameron raised the issue at his party's annual conference last month. Writing in the Guardian he said: “Britain has come so far, but the long march to an equal society isn't over. Today's announcement is not the only thing we can do, but it's a milestone. And it means that a young, black woman knows she'll get a fair shot when she applies for the job of her dreams."