Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring

By Nicholas Keung, Immigration Reporter

This story originally appeared in the The Toronto Star

Six federal ministries and departments will remove information revealing an applicant’s race and ethnicity from the application and resume to stop hiring biases against minority candidates.

Ottawa has launched a pilot project to reduce biases in the hiring of federal civil services through what is billed “name-blind” recruitment, a practice long urged by employment equity advocates.

The Liberal government’s move came on the heel of a joint study by University of Toronto and Ryerson University earlier this year that found job candidates with Asian names and Canadian qualifications are less likely to be called for interviews than counterparts with Anglo-Canadian names even if they have a better education. To learn more about the research findings, click here.

“It’s not just an issue of concern for me but for a lot of people. A number of people have conducted research in Canada, the UK, Australia and the U.S. that showed there is a subliminal bias in people reading too much into names,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who first delivered the idea to Parliament last year as a rookie MP from Toronto.

“Name-blind recruitment could help ensure the public service reflects the people it serves by helping to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.”

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