The Victorian Government Is Removing Personal Details From CVs To Prevent Hiring Bias

There are far too many of us who might’ve been tempted to ‘tweak’ our CV to bolster our chances of success; by removing a gender pronoun, adjusting our birthdate or adopting a more ‘pronouncable’ surname. It’s not exactly ideal. But what if that could change?

Unconscious bias is dangerous in that those reinforcing it are largely unaware they’re doing so; more often than not, it’s the kind of bias that’s unintended, but it trickles down quietly through decision-making processes to reinforce the status quo all the same. And this inherent bias is rife in the recruitment process – where perfectly qualified hopefuls miss out on opportunities because of their gender, religion, age or cultural background. But a new initiative from the Victorian government plans to shake things up.

For the first time in Australia, Victoria will trial the removal of personal details from CVs across a range of major government departments, agencies such as WorkSafe and Victoria Police, and private companies such as Westpac with the aim of curbing discrimination from unconscious bias during recruitment.

Instead, the anonymous applications program will create a system that chooses candidates according to what their selection should’ve been based on in the first place – their experience and skill.

Research from the Australian National University has found how much more intense the job application process is for people of culturally diverse backgrounds. Even if they have the same qualifications and experience, they often have to submit far more job applications.

The Age says, “To get as many interviews as an applicant with an Anglo-Saxon sounding name, an Indigenous person must submit 35% more applications, a Chinese person must submit 68% more applications, an Italian person must submit 12% more applications, and a Middle Eastern person 64% more applications, it found.”

Commencing late 2016, the program will see an applicant’s name and gender blanked out from their CV and follows a similar approach to the Name-Blind Recruitment Strategy introduced for the British Civil Service. Westpac have volunteered to partner with the Victorian government to pilot the program, and roll it out across the Westpac Group.

Ainslie van Onselen, Westpac Group’s Director of Women’s Markets, Inclusion and Diversity said Westpac is proud to be the first bank to be involved in the pilot study. And it’s no surprise; they put a lot of effort towards gender parity, providing unconscious bias training for hiring managers and are passionate about “programs that take steps towards an equal future for all Australians.”

The program couldn’t come soon enough.

Sonia Taylor is the editor of The Cusp. Follow her on Instagram here.