95% of human decisions are subconscious. 

This statistic can be alarming when you’re trying to address any cognitive bias held by those involved in your hiring process. Historically, a particular pain point for recruiters has been the struggle with unconscious bias. As human beings, we take our cues from pre-conceived views and ideals – otherwise known as precognitive cues. In doing this, we elect certain attributes that we think are more attractive, useful or appropriate, or attach negative connotations to them, we generate views based on these conceptions, which are frequently entirely false and unfounded. 

These biases are known to be a part of human nature, but they can become a real hindrance when you’re trying to recruit the best and brightest applicants, regardless of their socio-economic background, gender, or race. 

As today’s companies are making a genuine effort to address the biases prevalent in their workplaces, research shows that simply acknowledging the existence of bias is not enough to prevent its negative effects. To that end, the NLI recommends a three-step process for reducing the effects of bias: Accept, Label, Mitigate. 

CV anonymisation is a key practice for the third step, for taking action against bias. 


What is CV Anonymisation? 

CV anonymisation is a method used in both agency and in-house recruitment teams to effectively redact personal identifiable information (PII) from a CV. 

Most people see this as simple as removing the name, email, and postal address from the CV, but as we can see, eliminating the risk of bias requires going further than that. Career and education history timelines, images, names of universities and previous employers all go some way to add to unconscious bias during short listing. 

Companies looking for ways to ensure their recruitment process adheres to ED&I principles must remove any unconscious bias that has traditionally impacted recruitment. 


How it works 

With Hireserve’s CV anonymisation feature you can choose which level of anonymisation your company wish to adopt by selecting the data you would like the tool to remove from our configuration screen. The tool will redact the PII from the CV and return this version to the ATS and store under the candidate. 

The hiring manager will only see the anonymised CV in the Hiring Manager Portal. A soon as a candidate is moved to Interview Confirmed, the original CV will be released to the interviewing panel and the hiring manager. 


CV anonymisation can create a more diverse workforce 

One of the major benefits of using CV anonymisation in your hiring and recruitment process is that it can help to create a more diverse workforce. 

One study  found that teams with more diverse decision-makers made better business choices 87% of the time, and greater productivity with a 60% increase in better results. 

Hiring diverse candidates can add a wide array of benefits to your organisation. A more diverse workforce can result in having a broader range of skills, for example, hiring new employees from diverse backgrounds can mean that you gain new and different perspectives within your workforce. It can also encourage a working environment and culture that is open to different ideas. 

 The results of the practice can also be a brilliant tool for prompting people who may doubt the existence of unconscious bias, particularly within themselves. 

For example, one of the earliest recorded instances of blind recruiting was for an orchestra in the mid 90’s. They wanted to see if having candidates undergo a blind audition for an orchestra by playing behind a screen would change who they’d recruit. It showed that this in fact did result in more inclusivity, with a 50% increase in the likelihood of a woman moving onto the next round. It’s evidence like this which can play a key role in shifting someone’s mindset and encouraging self-awareness. 


There are also other practices you can incorporate into your hiring process to double up your efforts of curbing bias.  

For example, do the people on your hiring panel all look the same, or do your interviewers represent the diversity you’d like to see on your team? Similarity bias can cause significant issues in your hiring process, as it causes people to favour those who they share a particular characteristic or trait with – including race, gender, age, – and the experiences which come with them. Even if you don’t currently have as much diversity in-house as you would like, diversifying your interview panel as much as you are able can still make a difference.   

The hiring industry needs to be particularly careful when it comes to displaying unconscious bias, not only to provide fairness and transparency for candidates but to ensure inclusivity and diversity within their organisation. Recruiters have a duty to keep the process as free from prejudice as possible if they are to attract the brightest and best talent to the business. While unconscious bias is something that we may struggle to fully eliminate, it is entirely possible to mitigate it with technology such as CV anonymisation tools. 

About the author

Hannah Elliott