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BBC among employers to back 'blind recruitment' in bid to curb discrimination

Published 26/10/2015

David Cameron spoke out against discrimination during his speech to Tories in Manchester
David Cameron spoke out against discrimination during his speech to Tories in Manchester

Major employers such as HSBC and the BBC are to introduce "blind" recruitment of graduates in a bid to curb discrimination against candidates with "ethnic-sounding names", David Cameron announced.

The Prime Minister, who railed against employment discrimination in his Conservative Party conference speech, is hosting a meeting at Downing Street to discuss the issue.

Number 10 said Deloitte, Virgin Money and KPMG would also begin selecting for interview for graduate and apprentice roles without knowing names.

The civil service - which already employs the practice for around half of jobs - will extend it to all but the highest tier of mandarins, meaning around 99% of positions will be recruited.

It will be made the default for all positions advertised through NHS Jobs and health service apprenticeships delivered through the National Careers Service.

The Local Government Association has committed to encouraging town halls to take it up - as well as applying it to its own recruitment.

Mr Cameron has introduced it for Conservative Party appointments.

The PM said in his conference speech that having a "white-sounding" name made you nearly twice as likely to get a call-back from an application than someone equally qualified.

He said it was " disgraceful" in 21st century Britain that one black graduate had only got interviews after changing her name to Elizabeth.

Speaking as he prepared to welcome the bosses of some of the firms and bodies set to change their procedures to Downing Street, he said he was delivering on this commitment "to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country".

"If you've got the grades, the skills and the determination this Government will ensure that you can succeed," he said.

It is hoped the practice will be spread further across the private sector by being incorporated into training courses run by t he Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Deloitte chief executive David Sproul said it would also use "school and university-blind" interviews in a bid to end "unconscious bias".

"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.

Civil Service chief executive John Manzoni said: "It's vital that the Civil Service takes a lead on this, and I'm confident that this important step will help us build an organisation that is even more talented, diverse and effective than it is today."

Other attendees at the meeting will include HSBC head of human resources Tanuj Kapilashrami, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens; KPMG head of corporate affairs Marianne Fallon and BBC director of strategy and digital James Purnell.

Mr Cameron, writing in the Guardian, said: "For all the legislation we have passed, discrimination still persists. It's no longer signs on the door that say 'no blacks allowed'; it's quieter and more subtle discrimination.

"It's the disappointment of not getting your first choice university place; it's being passed over for promotion and not knowing why; it's organisations that recruit in their won image and aren't confident enough to do something different, like employing a disabled person or a young black man or woman. You won't change these attitudes simply through more laws, but in smarter, more innovative ways.

"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."

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