Opinion: Anonymized hiring is a way to promote a diversified workforce and combat unconscious biases
Published Tuesday, February 23, 2021 9:56AM EST Last Updated Tuesday, February 23, 2021 3:00PM EST
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MONTREAL -- Including diversity in businesses has become a key topic in the public sphere since 2020.
There are conferences and training sessions on the issue, as well as press kits and announcements from companies saying they want to do more.
As the founder of a digital marketing agency (GLO), I decided, with my team, to implement a recruitment method that promotes inclusion: resume anonymization.
Anonymized CVs prevent those responsible for recruiting from being swayed by their unconscious biases, especially those which draw us toward people who are like us.
Despite our excitement at being able to recruit a new cohort of interns in an inclusive manner, my team encountered a major obstacle: there is no application or software allowing the anonymization of CVs that is financially accessible to SMEs.
Large companies that hire tens or hundreds of people each year can afford to invest in integrated human resources solutions, which sometimes offer this functionality.
However, for SMEs who often only need to hire one to three times a year, these solutions represent a large expenditure.
So, it was very surprising when I realized that only large companies can afford to innovate in inclusive recruitment.
What a disappointment!
The anonymization of resumes is almost always cited as a solution for companies that really want to see a change in their practices.
It is clear that not being aware of socio-demographic information before the interview would have a beneficial impact on the recruitment of these companies.
Especially when we know that people from diverse backgrounds are 60 per cent less likely to get an interview at the mere sight of their names, according to studies carried out in Quebec and Montreal.
Armed with patience and resilience, our team nevertheless decided to create an “in-house” process to anonymize resumes.
We created a form that allowed applicants to apply without divulging any information that could reveal their socio-demographic profile.
It was only after a phone conversation, without initially knowing the name of the person on the other end, that we asked to see the CVs of those selected.
This way, we were able to talk to the candidates about their vision for the position, ensure good mutual understanding, and gauge their interest.
We continued the process by always having at least two people from our company present in interviews to, once again, minimize unconscious bias.
This “in-house” solution for promoting inclusive recruitment required a lot of time to develop and implement, but time is just what the more than 254,000 SMEs in Quebec often lack.
If they had access to a simple and affordable method of anonymizing resumes, there is no doubt that diversity would be better represented within companies in Quebec.
Whose responsibility is it now?
The companies themselves? Governments?
If SMEs could rely on government financial support when investing in inclusive recruitment methods, I believe that the impact on representativeness would be significant. SMEs represent 99.7 per cent of businesses in Quebec and create more than 2.4 million jobs in the private sector.
If we manage to improve the recruitment process for these 2.4 million jobs to some extent, it is needless to say that the results would be significant.
As Black History Month draws to a close, I believe that campaigns to improve everyday situations are of great importance to our society.
It is by democratizing inclusive business practices that we will move towards a better representativeness of diversity in companies.
It looks so simple on paper, so what are we waiting for?
Jonathan Nicolas, Digital Strategist and Founder of GLO
Jonathan Nicolas is a digital strategist and founder of GLO. He teaches communications and marketing at the HEC Montréal Executive Education school, Université Laval and Infopresse. Specializing in web analytics, digital strategy and media, he helps companies perform by taking advantage of new consumer purchasing processes and technological innovations. He has worked with La Capitale, Les Francos de Montreal, and BRP, among others. As such, he has received several recognitions, accumulated a dozen web certifications, and carved out a place in Infopresse's very first 30 under 30. Being both passionate and critical, he decided to found GLO to highlight the various challenges of the digital advertising industry, and to try to offer more honest, transparent, and collaborative alternative.