Victoria trials blind job applications

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Job hunting can be a long and frustrating process. Many hours are spent practicing for interviews and crafting the perfect cover letter. Job applicants with a non-Anglo name face an additional obstacle – the unconscious bias of employers.

This was highlighted by Waleed Aly during his Gold Logies speech, where he spoke about the challenges for Australians with non-Anglo names to find employment. He related the story of Mustafa, who had to change his name in order to increase his chances of securing a job in the television industry.

The Victorian government announced on Friday it will trial removing personal details – such as name, gender, age and location – from job applications. Major government agencies such as WorkSafe and Victoria Police, along with private companies like Australia Post and Westpac, will take part in this initiative, the first of its kind in Australia.

Casual racism is often harder to monitor than overt forms of racism. Employers may not even be aware of their own prejudices when selecting job candidates.

The Australian National University conducted research into whether people from culturally diverse backgrounds encounter more obstacles when obtaining a job interview.

As part of the research, they submitted more than 4000 fictional applications for entry-level jobs. The applications had similar qualifications with only one major difference – their ethnicity.

The study found that candidates with non-Anglo names have to submit many more applications before they are offered an interview.

“To get as many interviews as an Anglo applicant with an Anglo-sounding name, an Indigenous person must submit 35 per cent more applications, a Chinese person must submit 68 per cent more applications, an Italian person must submit 12 per cent more applications, and a Middle Eastern person 64 per cent more applications,” it said.

On this week’s Friday Forum, we ask: Do you think removing details such as name, age and gender will help eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process?

Image by Flazingo Photos via Flickr

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