tional Academy of Sciences found that
managers of both sexes were twice as
likely to hire a man as a woman.
Even with proper training, recruiters
and hiring managers are susceptible
to unconscious bias, says Kim Ruyle,
president of Inventive Talent Consulting LLC, a Florida-based talent management and organizational development consulting frm. “It’s part of our
circuitry,” he says. “Our brains make
rapid, snap judgments when we meet
new people”—and even before that, as
the studies on resume names indicate.
Blind hiring helps take some of people’s
preconceived notions about others out
of the hiring equation, at least initially.
HOW IT STARTED
Many believe the practice originated
in the 1970s with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which at that time
was made up almost entirely of white
male musicians. In an efort to diversify, the orchestra began using partitions to conceal the identity of those
who were auditioning. This led to a
tremendous shift in the way the whole
industry brought on talent, with blind
auditions becoming the norm. As a result, the ratio of female musicians in
the top U. S. orchestras increased from
less than 5 percent in 1970 to 25 percent in the 1990s, according to a 1997
study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In the 2000s, tech startups emerged
to make it easier for HR teams to in-
tegrate blind hiring practices. These
vendors build their technology to inte-
grate with existing applicant tracking
systems (ATSs), which generally aren’t
set up to strip out candidates’ identify-
One such platform, GapJumpers,
was launched in 2014 by a company of
the same name. The software enables
employers to evaluate candidates based
on relevant performance challenges.
“We’ve essentially applied software
technology to allow companies to experience the same kind of results that
orchestras have achieved with blind
hiring,” says Petar Vujosevic, the company’s co-founder and chief operating
ofcer. “With GapJumpers, the applicant is a black box.”
Here’s how it works: First, an employer
creates an assessment, or “challenge,”
that directly relates to the skills required for the job opening. A GapJumpers plug-in syncs with the employer’s
ATS so people who apply to jobs on the
client’s website are redirected to GapJumpers to take the assessment.
Next, GapJumpers technology
grades the exams and creates a scorecard for each candidate. The client
company then receives a ranking of
TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTING BLIND HIRING
Here’s some expert advice on how to incorporate blind hiring into your
company’s talent selection strategy:
CREATE A GOAL. “Like any new business practice, you should set goals
from the outset,” says Mikaela Kiner, CEO at Seattle-based consulting frm
Uniquely HR. “For example, your goal might be to increase the number of
women in executive positions over the course of a year.”
PICK WHAT TO REDACT. In addition to stripping names, consider re-
moving home addresses (a possible proxy for race and income) and dates
(which can reveal age).
TRAIN RECRUITERS AND HIRING MANAGERS. Educate employees on
unconscious bias and the value of diversity, and teach them how to ask
skills-based interview questions.
START SMALL. Introduce blind hiring in small steps and for specifc roles
so you can fne-tune your methods before applying them companywide,
MEASURE RESULTS. Gather data on diversity demographics—age, race,
gender—and employee retention, and solicit candidate feedback. After
all, “the better the job candidate experience is, the more likely candidates
are to refer other talented people to your organization,” says JoAnn Corley,
founder and CEO of The Human Sphere, an Atlanta-based talent manage-
ment consultancy. Pro tip: Host a debrief meeting with your HR staf to
Katherine McNamee, SHRM-CP, took a simple step toward eliminating key
data from resumes—by telling people not to include it in the frst place.