https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/05/name-blind-recruitment-a-commitment-to-diversity/

Name-blind recruitment – a commitment to diversity

John Manzoni
John Manzoni

As Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary, diversity is one of my key objectives. I am passionate about this agenda, because I believe that we must develop a Civil Service that reflects the public we serve.

The Talent Action Plan (which we refreshed in March 2015) set out an ambitious programme of work to increase diversity and inclusion in the Civil Service, building on the successful initiatives we are already delivering across government. We have a long-term commitment to create opportunities for all civil servants and unlock talent from across the organisation.

But we are also looking at new ways to attract people from all backgrounds to the Civil Service. To do this, we need to ensure that nothing in the recruitment process puts up barriers that prevent the best talent from joining us.

Banner with legend "Removing the barriers to success - #OurCivilService"

So, I was delighted to participate in a recent roundtable with the Prime Minister at which we discussed ways in which we can support the diversity agenda – and I wholeheartedly support his commitment to introduce ‘name-blind' recruitment across the Civil Service. By removing the candidate’s name and other personal information, such as their nationality or the university they attended, we aim to ensure that people will be judged on merit and not on their background, race or gender.

Standard practice

It’s worth saying that we already use name-blind recruitment in the Civil Service, in the Fast Stream assessment and the Fast Track Apprenticeship, and many departments use this approach for their wider recruitment. So, there is no reason why we shouldn’t make this the default, with limited exceptions for some intelligence roles or where active search is used to identify candidates.

Being at the forefront of this initiative, and committed to it becoming standard practice across all industries, the Civil Service sends a clear message that our approach to talent is not discriminatory.

In this way, we can build a more diverse, inclusive workforce that better reflects the society we serve and act as an exemplar of the good practice we want to see other employers adopt.

[Because of the level of interest and comment generated by this blog post, John Manzoni has written again to address some of the questions you have raised. You can read his response here.]

123 comments

  1. Darren

    I thought Civil Service Resourcing did this already - I've not seen a name or other personal details on a sift sheet for years.

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    • Kerry Williams

      "The blindfolded figure on the top of the Old Bailey is a potent symbol of impartial justice." The statue of Justice atop the Old Bailey is not blindfolded as it happens. Hopefully our revised recruitment procedures will employ a tad more observational acumen!

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    • Phil

      I can cite at least 2 job applications I have made at stage 3 in the last 2 months that have asked for a CV. If this practice is to continue there will have to be some guidelines issued on what the employer does and doesn't require including on the CV (given that it would be normal to include personal detail and educational history).

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    • Victoria

      I'm a recruitment manager and CSR sporadically anonymises our campaigns; there isn't consistency in this respect. Obviously this will be standardised now.

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  2. Peter Williams

    Extending this policy to the entire CS (exceptions noted) is great news. If someone has worked hard to gain relevant experience and then apply for a role that they are suitable to take, they should be selected based on merit, not on their name or place of birth. This is motivational as it encourages everyone to achieve their potential as it levels the playing field allowing everyone to have a fair chance. Fantastic policy.

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  3. EB

    @Darren. You're right insofar as CSR applications go. I've known of many appointments made just on applications alone and, if the applications are good enough, that's the way it should be. At the risk of being contentious however, these systems (both CSR and Name-blind) won't ever get rid of the old 'barriers' as mentioned.

    I'll give Mr Manzoni his due - 10 out of 10 for trying. At least somebody is.

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  4. Barb Taylor

    I concur with Darren. I am a recruiter within HMRC and all the trawls we deal with use the on-line recruitment service provided by CSR. All applications are anonymised until the interview stage. That means that regardless of who the applicant is or what background they come from - their details are totally anonymous. It is only when setting up interview schedules that the names are revealed. I think John Manzonio's comments do an injustice to all our dedicated selectors. They work tirelessly to get the best people recruited within HMRC - regardless of where they came from!!

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  5. Andrew Taylor

    "The blindfolded figure on the top of the Old Bailey is a potent symbol of impartial justice"

    This was the opening line on the Civil Service News email that directed me to this article. Alas, that's not the case as the statue of Lady Justice on the top of the Old Bailiey isn't blindfolded at all, although many similar figures are.

    Back on topic, I'm actually surprised that not every department is using name-blind recruitment alreasy. Any sifiting that I've done hasn't included a candidates name, just an ID number. Anyway, it's good to see this practice being extended Civil Service wide.

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  6. Antonio Albano

    I attended a meeting many years ago to discuss the undiverse nature of the Civil Service's higher echelons and in the Civil Service as a whole. Although the phrase hadn't been coined yet, unconscious bias may have paid a part in recruitment.

    I mentioned then that a solution might be if we referred to candidates by a number rather than a name, and also omitted their sex, age and qualifications. The reaction and dressing down I got can not be described! And now......?

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  7. Adam

    My department already does this, and have done so since I started working for the civil service.

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  8. Brian

    Excellent idea however thought there was a block on recruitment

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  9. Clive Neatherway

    I am wholeheartedly behind this policy - I think it is excellent and wonderful that the new Name Blind policy "will" be utilised.
    I would rather have been told that it IS in placewith immediate effect accross the entire Civil Service rather than will be (it doesn't take much admin implement).
    I would also like to have it confirmed that the Name Blind policy is in place with immediate effect for internal recruitment / promotion etc accross the Civil Service.

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  10. Sandie Andrews

    The only way to make this truly diverse is by all applications being sifted by HR or a department soley responsible for sifting applications and having one standard. As long as application are subject to different interpretations there will never be equality! At the very least applications from one district should be sifted by another district to try to ensure the person sifting does not know the person.. Even with names removed applicants are identified by their competencies.

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  11. Paul

    Civil service news needs to have another look at the Lady of Justice above the Old Baily as she is not blindfolded as stated in the article.

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  12. Dan

    I am all for this, but there seems to be an intent to ignore an individual's education in Civil Service recruitment. I understand that a degree for example does not necessarily make you any more qualified for a role, and can even be the reverse, but it is in itself a demonstration of a set of skills that would perhaps be difficult to translate into a competency (especially as the premise that a competency can be formed around any topic is regularly ignored by recruiters). It would be nice to at least have the opportunity to record education on Civil Service applications, not just on those that require a specific degree. Perhaps though that would lead into the bias you are trying to avoid, and so we come full circle...

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  13. Lorna

    I agree that this is a positive step at the sift stage provided the sift is not local as examples can identify the person. It would also be a good step if sifts and interviews were conducted by a different area so that it was completely fair. There are still too many examples of line manager and countersigning managers carrying out sifts and boards promoting their choice.

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  14. Monty

    So what are you going to do if name blind recruitment results in a preponderance of white males?

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  15. Peter Irons

    I applaud the intention behind this initiative, and it should always have been recruit the best for each role. However, how will this be achieved in reality when as an organisation we have target figures for recruitment types such as gender, ethnic origin, mobility and so on? Positive, and negative discrimination equally impact on recruiting the 'best'.

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  16. Geoff Scammell

    The blurb on CS News begins "The blindfolded figure on the top of the Old Bailey is a potent symbol of impartial justice." No it is not (blindfolded that is). Go take a look.

    Name blind recruitment was trialled in France a few years back with surprising results - ethnic moinorities fared worse. The reason? It seems employers were more likely to accept a slightly non-gramatical application from someone for whom French was not their first language. Name blind applications did not afford them that ability.

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  17. Peter Parslow

    Name blind makes sense, but at least in the first few years & into a graduate role, not knowing which university granted the degree means we won't have a clue of someone's basic qualification. Not all 'BSc Computer Studies' (for example) are at all similar.

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  18. Anonymous

    Will this also apply to promotion exercises?

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  19. Keith

    With academic publications this does not work.

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  20. Chris Baldwin

    Headline: "The blindfolded figure on the top of the Old Bailey is a potent symbol of impartial justice"

    Fine. Except she is not blindfolded. This is a myth.

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  21. John

    Good to see people judged on merit, irrespective of background, race or gender, but I cannot help but notice age is conspicuous by it's abscence.

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  22. Ian Walker

    The link to this article states that "The blindfolded figure on the top of the Old Bailey is a potent symbol of impartial justice."

    The statue of justice on top of the Old Bailey is not blindfolded, because justice must be seen to be done.

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  23. David

    Doesn't this simply paper over the cracks of a wider issue?

    If candidates ARE being judged on their "background, race or gender" then shouldn't the people judging in such a way be taken to task?

    I'd be interested to know how many investigations have taken place into cases where candidates feel they have been judged in this manner and what, if any, disciplinary action has been taken on the sifters/interviewers.

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  24. Simon Collins

    ....'university they attended'.. Is this the standard of the average recruit into the Civil Service these days? Or is it really a better reflection of the recuritment into Senior Management/Decision Maker positions within the Civil Service, that are now above that glass ceiling of the hard working AO or EO with years of experience of undertaking front line roles, and which the Civil Service will always need to provide to the people of the UK and expats abroad.
    Talent Management/Fast Stream is all well and good for those that can fill in a form and 'Talk the Talk', but as is proved time and time again, certainly in the RPA which I currently work, those brough into the Agency and making the decisions have little or no idea about the whole business that is undertaken within our Agency. This leads to significant issues to deal with, usually at the last minute, by those same hard working individuals trying to maintain a front line service.
    I suspect that these issues are not exclusive to the RPA........ ???
    I was a Painter & Decorator before I got a job in the Employment Service in 1990, I very much doubt I would be able to get through the Civil Service Recruitment Process these days. Having worked my way up to be an HEO, and having been responsible for recruiting 100's of permanent and temporary staff into the Civil Service over the last 25 years, in my opinion there is a still along way to go before we can claim to be truely reflective of our communities that we serve.
    Happy to discuss.

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  25. John Sandison

    Will this be extended to interviews and if so how?

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  26. Julius

    The interview process sifts out anyone who the interviewer deems undesirable.

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  27. Jacqueline Ann Fernandez

    I know from personal experience there is still very much a touch of the 'old boys network' as regards progressing even to TDA roles. Rather than seeking to develop 'new talent', managers I have recently come into contact with prefer to stay with what they know. I don't even think it can be attributed to 'unconscious bias'. I can only hope that John's ambitions for the civil service as a whole actually filter down to local office level.

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  28. Monty

    I for one wholeheartedly support his commitment to his commitment to an initiative that already exists...(sigh)

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  29. SB

    My understanding is that CSR name blind in its process. Sifting is done without seeing candidates name.

    However, further improvement and a robust process in place can be implemented by carrying out the following:

    i) Have a wider pool of diverse background interview panel. Have at least one person in the panel from BAME/LBGT either as the interview or the chair, to give equality of opportunity and diversity a chance.

    ii) The interview panel must allow integrity, honesty and transparency and to allow this, only one person should be allowed from within the business stream that is recruiting for the vacancy to interview. The other two should be external i.e. outside the business stream, with a mix of either from HR, and any other business area, expanding the interview pool within the organisation.

    iii) All interviewers must have training in interviewing and the sub-conscious bias and diversity must be an essential part of that training provision.

    There are many other ideal situations, the above are minimal standards which should then allow some fairness and equity in the process.

    It's a long way off before the Civil Service can be seen as world class in diverse workforce to the society we have in the United Kingdom.

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  30. Trevor

    In some ways embracing university blind is more significant than name blind. Is this really the end of the Oxbridge club?

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  31. Jen

    Is this name-blind recruitment, or name-blind sifting prior to an interview, where everyone will then be seen and heard? Will there also be a standardised multiple choice CV that disallows free text, so that people can't infer gender or diversity or privilege or previous opportunity at Mum's or Dad's firm from the verbosity of someone's answers? Will there be an allowance to account for the failure of education in meeting the needs of such a large proportion of children from one specific gender?

    This again all comes down to leadership and foresight. Raising everyone to achieve equality and diversity values is one of the best things that society can do. But if the methods, in doing so, swap round the unconscious bias so that another section of society is purposefully denigrated and held down because of unchangeable characteristics and natural proclivities, society will become worse off over time.

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  32. Alan Southern

    I doubt very much it will make any difference. Unless those currently in control of the civil service, large companies, the military, the judiciary and other large groups are willing to cede power. They are predominately male, white, middle class, went to Oxbridge and started their life in fee paying schools. Are there any top civil servants who went through their whole schooling in a state school? I cannot name one. Perhaps Mr Manzoni does and if so can he name any? In the last few days there have beern comments about the backgrounds of the judicial appeals high court. One is a women and I imagine she went to Oxbridge and a fee paying school. All the rest are the usual suspects. So this 'initiative' will fail like the damp squib it is.

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  33. Steve

    What about removing the candidates age and date of birth as well. This should hopefuly stop Ageism.

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  34. H Davies

    It makes no difference with internal recruitment if the sifters are not impartial and can recognise candidates from their examples. Annecdotal evidence suggests that this practice is widespread and is not only used to make sure that people are promoted from within existing teams but also to prevent that where it would leave a resource to be backfilled.

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  35. Arminius

    The introduction to this article is a bit odd - the figure of Justice atop the Old Bailey is not blindfolded. Check it out on wikipedia.

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  36. Ian

    I am not sure leaving at an individual's university is a good idea. If you wish to recruit on merit then surely the University that an individual went to is an important indicator of potential talent.

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  37. Kate

    There are universities and "universities" and some degree courses are more demanding than others so if they remove the name of the university and just look at the class of degree awarded, they won't necessarily select the brightest candidates for interview.......

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  38. Ben

    This move is largely positive. I understand and support the need for knowing some of this information for intelligence roles but I am perplexed why an exception still exists for 'active search'. This still leaves the door wide open to potential discrimination. This sounds more like we should be fair except where we don't want to.....

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  39. David O'Dell

    This is great and something I fully endorse.

    I hope as a Civil Service whilst this is good in terms of external recruitment and opportunities, the same will be adopted likewise internally.

    I have for some time now sought that similer discrimination exists when individuals apply for internal job opportunities/promotion exercises. Introducing the name blind approach in such scenarios will likewise provide better assurance to staff that their applications do indeed start on a level playing field.

    I would ask therefore that some influence/approach could likewise be undertaken in ensuring such an outcome.

    Thanks

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  40. David

    I would like to see an end to 'managed moves' which in a time of limited people resources should not restrict posts to those already in a Directorate but be open enough to allow those of us who want to move but are not in the mind of the manager...this can still work as an expedient tool to quickly resource a team with the right talent at the right level but it could be widened out within Departmartments. Otherwise a rather more unfair system with same old limited horizons will prevail.

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  41. Linda

    I think this is a good idea, and I think it should become common practice amongst employers in general.

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  42. Stephen Williams

    Contrary to popular belief the statue of Lady Justice on the Old Bailey is not blindfolded.

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  43. John Fynaut

    My impression is that the Civil Service still trapped in a box culture. What this means is that once routed in a certain stream there is an institutional blindness to skills/qualifications you bring from outside- they are simply not taken into account at AO level. Furthermore the external experience and qualifications are ignored and the process presumes you have entered the Department as a clean slate. This is box culture in extreme. Patronage still exists for progression. Pre-requisite degrees 2.2 are still required for some progression schemes; so mature joiners who did not go to university are excluded. The private sector uses skills and amptitude based assessment tests, which do not assume you are best qualified in ability simply because of exam skills. I do not see that these type of tests are given much weighting in the civil service.

    The civil service can not claim a level playing field when it pretends external experience, e.g. 20 years private sector experience is irrelevant; and when management progression assumes a 2.2 degree means someone has good inter personal and decision making skills. Nor should progression still give excessive weighting (patronage kicking in) to length of service.

    My personal experience is that the civil service still suffers from a lack of moral courage and strength of character to make decisions which go against the grain. The is evidenced in lower end and top end agreement on themes, but the consensus being lost in middle management.

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  44. AK

    I think this is a good thing, but being a little cynical, i think there will be ways of people making it known that they are interested in the job!!!!

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  45. Glen R

    Thats a new concept giving the position to the best person for the job. most places have been doing this for years. its a shame the Civil Service can't sort its self out. it would be nice just to get on with the day job

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  46. Lottie

    I don't think removing the name of the Univeristy attended helps to determine academic merit. It's not the same as a private school were attendance is more often based on the success of one's parents.

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  47. Sean

    But what about the interview? How are you going to combat discrimination based on race, gender, etc, at the interview stage???

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  48. Susan

    Hello 🙂 Was name blind used in the last recruitment drive for Oct/Nov

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  49. Tayfun

    I have applied for a job in estate department of one of the Government Departments I was not offered the job even though I have had a Civil Engineering Degree and experience but outside the UK. I then applied for a temporary cover position in Systems(IT) department with my Microsoft Qualifications, HND in informatics and 12 years of IT experience from Programming, Web Design and Development, Desktop Support to Network Support. I was not even shortlisted after sifting process. Job was offered to someone with no IT qualifications. They will not give me the job but they are happy to use my skills and ability. It is all due competence based interviews, one's technical background and experience are ignored all decided in the interview on how good story teller one is. To them that is what fair is. Unless there are other things they decide on that I do not know about as I do not originate from the UK.

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    • Pete

      Personally I am absolutely sick and tired of the competency approach. As others have said it is not fit for purpose in my view.

      It just favours the b*llsh*tters. That's all it is, a measure of, the abilitiy to b*llsh*t. The people appointed in this do not necessarily perform - I know because I have watched them failing to deliver despite all their spin.

      Any interview is flawed and there is always room for plenty of bias / prejudice in the scoring. There may be a panel of three but a dominant hiring manager can soon sort out the other two members of the panel and get the person they want and pass over the ones they don't want.

      Based on my experience of being treated unfairly several times when applying for promotion I think the civil service has a very long way to go on being truly inclusive and genuinly fair to all staff.

      I like the idea of a non-face to face interview with questions and answers done by text / email so interviewers don't know who they are talking to - that's the only way to eliminate prejudice and bias.

      After five years being stuck in the same dead-end job I am completely fed-up with being treated unfairly and discriminated against becasue I am not some sort of two-faced t*sser who says what he thinks people want to hear - surely someone who is more honest / says things are they are (with some diplomacy!) is far more use in running any organisation than yet another blasted 'yes-man'/'yes-woman'?

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    • Michael

      This is where competence based interviewing is unhelpful - even as in my case I was being interviewed for a job that was in an equivalent department to that I was in at my existing (now ex) workplace. (Anyway, their loss, present workplace's gain.)

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  50. ANONYMOUS

    I may have missed it in the detail - how does this get around names in email addresses?

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  51. Mike

    #Not The Voice?

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  52. Alastair Woodward

    I welcome the changes that are outlined above and anything that improves the reputation of our recruitment processes.
    However I only believe we will have a recruitment process that all believe is unbiased when managers stop recruiting fro their own departments. Managers recognise their own staff’s applications from the details in the submitted competencies and therefore can suffer from or be accused of either unconscious or conscious bias. I have worked in three different locations within the HO and in my 12 years of service have routinely heard mentions of jobs already being earmarked for people or heard time and time again that promotions have been won by people already in post (TP posts). I even know a few people who will not even apply for a job if they know some one is already fulfilling the role. This refers to all grades.
    I appreciate that under current cost controls we can not have a recruitment team, but we could have a policy for recruiting managers to swap recruitment exercises – so if I need to recruit a member of staff - another manager carries out the exercise and then I do a recruitment for another function – ideally in another location. This would have no additional cost in time as I would still be carrying our an exercise – just for someone else.
    To me this is the only way we will ever be able to hold our heads high and claim to truly have a fair and open competitive recruitment process, beyond reproach.
    If you are not convinced by this argument (and yes its anecdotal evidence) one way to confirm or dismiss this widely held view, is by analysing the percentage of successful candidates being recruited from within the recruiting teams compared to the total number of the candidates and where those candidates came from.
    Happy to discuss.

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  53. IJ

    Easier said than done - the reality is far from being achieved, hence 'specialist' development events to attract, enhance and attract diversity in creating opportunities for underrepresented Civil Servants and unlock talent from across the organisation are still a norm in this day and age within the Civil Service. This requires more action than words and a buy in from Senior Leadership and Managers' across the whole of Government.

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  54. John Edmondson

    The aim is good but I don't think this will have much impact. The simple truth is that rich kids that go to Private Schools are coached over and over again on how to pass selection tests. Whatever is done to change the selection criteria, privilaged people will change and adapt to it and still come out on top. It is this ability for the privilaged to continuously compete for the top which is the real barrier.
    What is needed is for the Civil Service to invest equally in the training and development of all its staff so that people who start at the bottom have the same chance as those who are in the FastStream. In putting so much emphasis and resource into the Faststream the Civil Service is promoting and supporting Elitism. Until the Civil Service disbands the faststream and makes all staff work their way up the ranks on an equal footing, then the dream of diversity in the Senior Civil Service is nothing but a dream that will never become reality.

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    • Victoria

      While I 100% agree with your points on the Fast Stream and privately educated people, I must give my own anecdotal evidence of promotion not being entirely restricted to the privileged (I was educated at a comprehensive and have what can only be described as a "regional" accent). I moved directly to HEO from AO, and I did this firstly by gathering good demonstrations of my ability to perform at HEO level, and secondly by working hard on applications. It isn't enough to just write an application: you need to really understand how the competency system works and what the recruiters are looking for, not just produce what you think an application should look like.

      Furthermore, it's often the case that people are not mindful of the role they're applying to; for example, I sifted for a correspondence drafter and several of the applications were littered with spelling and grammatical errors! While there are a huge number of issues with the system we have, I think there's a lot of scope for applicants to improve their game, and this is a valid statement across the board from AA-G6. I can't speak to what SCS applications are like as I've never seen one but presumably there are pervasive errors there too, one of my favourites being not capitalising proper nouns (I suppose recruiting blind removes the issue to some degree though?).

      In short, it isn't entirely the system that's to blame and those looking for promotion may find ways to improve their application and interview techniques.

      NB: I'm a recruiting manager for a Group consisting of 460 people so I have a reasonable amount of experience in this!

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  55. Brian

    What about age, gender and sexuallity? None of these are relevant

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  56. John

    A Pedant writes:

    "The blindfolded figure on the top of the Old Bailey is a potent symbol of impartial justice". Er, there is no blindfolded figure at the top of the Old Bailey.

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    • Kerry Williams

      I am all for a bit of pedantic observation. If so then it would therefore appear that the author of the original introduction, myself and also Google Images are in error, but please feel free to elaborate. 😉

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      • Ken

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Justice - '....many sculptures simply leave out the blindfold altogether. For example, atop the Old Bailey courthouse in London, a statue of Lady Justice stands without a blindfold; the courthouse brochures explain that this is because Lady Justice was originally not blindfolded...

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  57. Glub

    A welcome adjustment, but how do you propose to remove the bias at face-to-face interview stage? It would be interesting to see the statistics on the demographics of candidates who get to interview and also those who are successfully recruited.

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  58. Susan

    It's a common mistake - lady Justice atop the Old Bailey is not actually blindfolded.

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  59. Pat Kazim

    So are ethnicity identification etc now removed from all forms?

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  60. Heather

    Is age and gender required on applications ? I have heard the comment "well its not really a job suitable for a woman " in the past

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  61. Greg

    Shame internal recruitment does not work in the same way. Applications within the same Department can be easily identified if desired by the competency recruitment process. It is difficult to exemplify your competencies within a role and still stay identity neutral. Merit based recruitment should truly be that - merit based

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  62. Phil Clemens

    I understand the need for anonymity but do not understand why it would necessarily mean that this would make a more diverse workforce that is a more reflective look at the community it represents. Is there not a good chance that the better qualified people for a large percentage of positions are from a more privileged, better educated background.

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  63. Denise

    Does this mean that when interviews take place we will interview people from behind screens? I hear that the BBC will be selling off the chairs they use in 'The Voice', maybe we could recycle those.

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  64. Lewis

    How is the university that somebody attended not reflective of merit? Surely it represents previous achievement.

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  65. Chris

    How does the ‘Name-Blind recruitment’ process work when Security Clearance is required?

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  66. Another Mike

    This is excellent news. My understanding is that in a current recruitment campain in HMRC interviews are being done by teleconference, with the applicant being supervised in another room. This means that members of the panel cannot make assumptions based on the appearance of the applicant. I hope that we can go one step further, and have all interviews done with questions and answers being communicated by some form of text, with the applicant being identified by a given number or code name. Once we are at the stage when interview panels do not get to hear the voice of the applicant, do not know the name of the applicant, and do not get to see the appearance of the applicant, perhaps then all bias of background, ethnicity or gender will be eliminated from the selection process.

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  67. Jonathan Bore

    I am an experienced recruiter at director level both within and outside the Civil Service and would have believed this a spoof had it not been on an official website. At some point during the process (such as the interview) you will find out the person's name and you need to know about the individual and their background and record of achievement in order to assess the appropriateness for the position. Does the Civil Service have such little trust in the fairness and ability of its recruiters that it has to resort to such measures? Pathetic really. If this happens, I see it generating much amusement in the real world.

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    • david

      The civil service does not live in the real world and when I discus our recruiting practises with friends from real working companies they find our approach and time lines totally unworkable in a firm that had to produce to survive.
      Our nonsense in not trusting line managers and recruiters’ is probably why we are not competitive with firms that just get on with the job in hand and why so Meany of our jobs are being privatised if only someone privatised the senior civil service and left the rest to get on with serving the people who pay our low wages the savings would be astronomical

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  68. Holga

    The aspiration that ‘people will be judged on merit’ is most laudable. Unfortunately, the current arcane systems have precisely the opposite effect.

    Candidates are not judged on diligence, experience or aptitude, but on their creative writing ability.

    The whole recruitment – ‘competency framework’ – process is tainted by unfairness and discrimination and is simply not fit for purpose.

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  69. Mary

    It's worrying that in previous recruitments, that somebody's name, could have prevented them from being the most suitable candidate for the job, if the proposed 'name-blind' is to be taken literally. If it is to diguise gender (and possibly age, as names can be indicative of a decade), then some unusual or ethnic names wouldn't necessarily give the persons gender or age away anyway. I agree with the other commentees that age, gender, race, sexuality, dis/ability should also be removed from applications. I am quite appalled at the non-PC term 'name-blind', which also conjours up images of the 'nose-blind' Febreze advert! Wouldn't just 'Anonymous' have been better?!

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  70. Anonymous

    This sounds great but I wonder if it will really happen ?

    My experience after 12 years in the Civil Service is that promoton is about who you know and whether or not your face fits.

    Our Finance Director maybe ex-industry but comes with all the blue-chip company buggage and is full of bias and prejudice, .e.g against anyone older than him, or who is not an extrovert full of hot air (words chosen carefully there).

    Having been an SEO for a very long time I frequently find myself getting very disillusioned when I see people who I know are less capable than me being treating more favourably, particularly with regard to promotions.

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  71. Elizabeth

    Name-blind recruitment is commendable but is it really effective? I do wonder, as I am working in a department where, it appears to me, that the workforce is certainly not diverse and representative of current society.

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  72. David, Newcastle Regional Pensions

    I worked in local government from 1979 until 2004 and we were recruiting "blind" in the 1980s to clerical, administrative and managerial positions. That was extended to the recruitment of manual and teaching staff by 1990. It allowed the Authority to be accreditted to "Double Tick" standard in the early 2000s. I am not sure if that standard still exists and would hope that this is just a step on the way to achieving the highest standards of recruitment practices, policies and procedures.

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  73. david

    As an employee the civil service is discriminating current employees by paying different rates to staff of the same grade and doing the same job so how will this policy stop discrimination in recruiting when the present employees are openly discriminated against by the MOD and our leaders are content to let this continue perhaps we should fix the known problems of discrimination in the department before trying to fix imagine problems.
    Or are the civil service top managers happy with the pay discrimination suffered by more junior members of there teams.. Perhaps john Manzoni can have a look at the pay discrimination that has been going on for some time now and let me know if he thinks it is right to pay different rates of pay for the same job or will he champion stopping this discrimination that is happening right now.

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  74. PJ

    I would be interested if John Manzoni feel's that the competency approach to recruitment will help to further these aims.

    Personally I am not convinced that the competency approach is fair and feel thoroughly turned off by it and demotivated. I feel it favours generalists over specialists and also favours extroverts over introverts. My experience of many who have a lot to say is that they tend to lack substance.
    I recall seeing a BBC news website article a while back which indicated that introverts tend to fair less well in all areas of employment than extoverts.

    If the laudable aim of a truly diverse workforce reflecting society's diversity is to be achievable is it time for a change of tack on recruitment? Do we have to have interviews for all roles? Would aptitude tests be fairer perhaps - no bias or prejudice there.

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  75. Nicola

    Isn't it a little odd to ignore the hard work, achievements and qualifications of people by blanking out their grades and university? If it really doesn't matter what qualifications you have or what university you go to, what kind of message do we give out to school children and university students about working hard and striving to achieve academic success. What about those kids who won hard fought scholarships to get to good schools and academic institutions and have made their way into what we would call middle class professions through their own efforts? Ignoring those achievements or presuming that they dictate a certain type of background is a dangerous form of misplaced prejudice. I am all for a true representation of the population but doesn't that include looking at the whole person and better training for our recruiters rather than blanking out information that could tell an important part of the story?

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  76. Kim Rice

    Kim 11/11/2015

    I have recently been discriminated against as someone who works in a different government department from the department advertising the job I applied for. I have endeavoured to make a complaint as I believe I have documentary evidence that the panel were only willing to consider someone who was already in the job. Please can someone tell me who should be investigating and dealing with my grievance as at present I am just being ignored no doubt HR management are hoping I will go away but at the very least I deserve a full explanation.

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  77. AD

    I read that the "maidenly form" of Lady Justice is considered a guarantee of her impartiality(!?) Can someone please explain that. Are people with "maidenly form" more just than men? When will justice be symbolized by a man - or will we extend the principle of the article so that we are blind to the gender of the person who personifies justice?

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  78. Francis

    The second message about the error was well-intentioned, but chock-full of irony. "The statue at the Central Criminal Court is not blindfolded because, as some of you have pointed out, her virtue and “maidenly form” are considered a guarantee of her impartiality. We apologise for this error, which, if inadvertently, illustrates the point of the article, that we should not make decisions on the basis of unwarranted assumptions."

    As Civil Servants, we are impartial - by nature, by duty and by habit. Our impartiality is reinforced by training in diversity, inclusion and the avoidance of unconscious bias. Far from illustrating the point of the article, the statue at the Central Criminal Court negates it by showing that justice does not *need* a blindfold to be impartial - any more than judges sitting in the courtrooms beneath wear blindfolds as they hear the cases that come before them. A blindfold, like name-blind recruitment, signals a lack of trust in the person making the judgement.

    "We should not make decisions on the basis of unwarranted assumptions" is a sound principle, already followed by Civil Servants every day. The new policy - which blanks out more than names, as others have pointed out - reduces the information available for a sound judgement (such as external qualifications) and turns recruitment into a mechanistic assessment of candidates' creative writing skills.

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  79. Charles

    I have a suspicion that the issue is far more fundamental than that being described.

    The process of selection will recruit people who can write a good application form and to whom we can relate the experiences described in interview.

    Each of these processes is quite specifically selective. The first removes anyone who has difficulty with the written language. The latter removes anyone who fundamentally lives at a different point on the 'rules based lifestyle' psychometric spectrum.

    During our work we robustly delegate closed terms of reference tasks, steadily culling out creativity.

    Thus for the many who have had a really difficult first 15 years of life, we have built some pretty insurmountable barriers, yet they do have amongst them some remarkable resilience and different experiences and perspectives.

    If we really want to move into the diversity space, we will have to challenge ourselves to find places for these groups to flourish too.

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  80. Maurice

    How are you going to achieve age blindness?

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  81. Anthony

    As someone who has been passed over for promotion twice by the competency based system I too am at a loss why this system is used in isolation. Whilst it has a place in evaluating new candidates it should never be used by itself. It simply selects people based on their ability to make up 'situations' under pressure, to fit the question asked. Each fabricated situation has to magically include all of the competency points, and also manage to fit the specific question asked. Can't re-work (or fabricate) situations under pressure? Well then you obviously can't do PC support, manage a team, design bridges or whatever...how does that make any sense?

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  82. William Baker

    @ Sandie Andrews - When I was recruited as a Direct Entrant EO the recruitment competition was handled by Recruitment and Assessment Services (RAS) based in Basingstoke. Soon after joining the civil service RAS was abolished.
    @ Alastair Woodward - I concur with your comment, again RAS addressed most of the issues that you identify. RAS recommended candidates for employment to the sponsoring department.
    @ Tayfun - I concur with your comments. Once within the civil service any external experience or qualifications that an individual may have are irrelevant. They cannot always be introduced into a application or introduced at the interview stage as the interview focuses on competencies.

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  83. EB

    @Sean. Exactly! With the best will in the world, no system or 'level playing field' will ever get rid of old prejudices or hatreds. Its a sad fact that some people STILL hang on to ideals that most of us know to be negative - I'm talking racism and sexism and it's still very evident today. Its difficult to police, its difficult to prove but not that difficult to see. We have the other problem of diversity of opinion but that's for another time.

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  84. Freetalk

    This is a small step in the right direction. But just one grain of sand on the beach. Having worked in recruitment for many years, there are many entrenched minefields in the recruitment process. In fact it gets it wrong more often than right. A much deeper rethink is necessary

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  85. Roger

    I applaud 'name blind' applications, which I assume is an attempt to create a fair and level playing filed. However there are other indicators of bias (concious or otherwise) so this should also be extended to any references to age, gender etc which would include not completing the diversity form, otherwise it largely negates the point of the iniative.

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  86. Dan

    I despair of the inconsistency of recruitment via competencies, unfortunately this method is no less at risk from subjectivism than any other. I recently applied for two relatively similar positions within the same department, using almost identical competencies - for one I received an interview with an average of 5 out of 7, and the other 'no evidence of the competency shown' average of 2 out of 7. Whilst I would be the first to agree that those competencies do not really give a true reflection of my personal ability and skills, I did write them using the framework (and I have plenty of experience in 'how' to write a competency). I also have received comments of 'fail to see how this example is relevant to the role' when using hospitality management examples to demonstrate a competency...is the idea not that the competency is a core skill, irrespective of the environment? I now only use civil service examples, despite having relevant skills from other previous employment. I feel that the competency system is good in principle (probably the fairest system you can have) but is massively open to bias of recruiters interpretation. I am all for increasing fairness, especially in terms of ridding recruitment of discrimination, but there should also be a significant review of how recruiters assess competencies and skills. Do we want to end up in a culture where the day-to-day performance and overall skill and ability of an individual is irrelevant unless it has happened in a describable STAR situation, that they are able to write using the key 'trigger' words and phrases from the framework..?

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    • S

      I have assisted in a few sifts, and I always like it when the candiate puts an example from their outside life in the mix as it helps me to see them as more of an individual and as being able to apply the framework with a degree of self awareness rather than trot out the same work related examples that the rest of their team have also claimed credit for. However I have found myself on a panel with a fellow sifter (who was the chair) who had a very negative attitude to any outside-of-work examples, including a prejudice against what I thought were very valid examples achieved during a candidate's trade union duties. If the competency framework is to be used as a generic tool which can be applied to any situation, fine; if it has to be used as a vary tailored, job specific tool then that narrows the field of applicants massively (to those already in or near the team advertising the post) and this attitude should be made explicit instead of a pretence that all jobs on a certain grade should be open for competition to anyone.

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  87. AT

    i for one welcome the changes being made but i am more concerned about the lack of consistancy whern grading the competence statements, i returned from overseas recently having worked for 4 years in Cyprus, i had good competences and was advised by my mentor to apply for promotion on the back of the work that i had carried out, unfortunately when ever i applied for jobs back int he UK mainly within other goverment departments i found i was scoring very low indeed, in fact they where very condersending in the feed back provided, i actually applied for two postions within one goverment department, one at SEO and one at HEO using the same statements, they where scored wildly differently by this department, one sayin worthy of interview for the SEO position and one saying no where near good enough for the HEO position, this is when you have to question the standard of people carrying out the sift and whether it is actually being done fairly, i read with interest above where some one said indipendants should sift for the roles!! i agree 100% with this as too often you are competing with some one from within the department that has already been lined up for the job by corupt line management. i actually have very little faith in the whole system as a result of all this and have seen far too many campaigns where the out come is known before the advert is even out in CS jobs.

    i welcome the changes to removing the names and other details as i have also witnesses a line manager discount some one on there name and back ground!!!! but far more needs to be done to make this process fair, if you trully want cross fertilisation within goverment departments and a true open and fair career path for CS's then change the way the whole process works!!!! i think DBS should sift and then provide the LM with the list of canditates to interview!!!

    also there is no way to challenge inconisistant feedback, i asked DBS once and they said it was upto the recruiting line manager, but surely there should be an independant review team to look at these sorts of things!!!

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  88. LC

    'Name-blind recruitment', how sweet the sound! I am fully supportive of this initiative being rolled out across the Civil Service, noting that this is already happening in some departments.

    I think there is a good chance of truly getting the right individuals regardless of gender, race, nationality, age (both young and old) or the school/universities attended. It is I believe human nature for one to be drawn to certain individuals based on personal profile - bias for whatever reason.

    Let us therefore, concentrate on the core of the matter: skills, qualifications and experience irrespective of personal profiles. Remember the Ice berg model? Deep beliefs within us are difficult to shift but we can all make a conscious decision to change our behaviours towards mankind (all of us). Knock Knock, who is there - Diversity!

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    • PaulH

      Will this really change anything? Unless the complete process is anonymous and candidates are independently sifted and interviewed (away from the advertised post(s) line management chain, so as not to favour those presently occupying T&G ) then it will be nothing more than a face value tick in the box exercise for the diversity team. It will be quite obvious from the competence evidence which person is being dealt with. I am assuming that pre application there has been an EMail or phone contact to express interest and obtain the TOR of the post. Also the writing style or standard of the applicants English is another predicator of 'who' an applicant may be. Additionally can an interview process ever be truly anonymous? Eventually there will be a need for a face to face experience or at least a voice to voice experience. Insert people personal preconceptions and prejudices at this stage and we're back at stage 1. And a good point raised by another blogger was What if anomynity results in mostly white males aged 40-50 representing 99% fo those anonymously successfull? Will we build in positive discrimination into the 'anonymous' process:) More questions than answers. Why, instead of these ideas being sold as the done deal, don't they ask our opinion up front through these forums and then formulate a stronger case based on the isdeas of the community which it aims to serve?

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  89. Neil

    Its a good idea but a big problem with the system is many people dont write their own core comps (or make up things that didnt happen) and get several friends to improve the examples. So you still cant judge what a person is like from an application.

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  90. John

    The idea that name-blind recruitment will lead to greater diversity and inclusion is an unwarranted assumption. If it leads to less diversity, will it be quietly dropped?
    Also, if everyone is innately biased, how do we know it is wrong to be so?

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  91. Catherine Hill

    I noted that the Departments quoted on the radio station I listened to outsource their sift procedure to private companies. Unfortinately, you reliquish control when you do that, and I was more than disappointed that the Civil Service as a whole, unfairly took the blame.
    I would like to know what the plans are to deliver Diversity training to these companies, and also to ensure it is applied.

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  92. Roy

    I'm nearly 70 and about to retire so my opinions may not be thought worthy of consideration, but I can't understand why a would-be meritocratic recruitment system would want to be blind to which university a candidate had attended. Decades ago that may have been a valid idea, because some people were able to gain entrance to their favoured universities by dint of the 'old-boy network'. But now there are well over 100 degree-awarding institutions and entrance to those in the higher reaches of the league table is quite rightly rigorously competitive. So to pretend that university degrees are all of equal academic merit would be to pointlessly disable the Civil Service selection process and run contrary to its supposed meritocratic aims.

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  93. Dawn

    Age should be included in this too.

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  94. Adrian

    Name-blind recruitment seems like a good idea if you want to crush individuality. If you want people who build reputations, then surely names matter. If people know my name and what I have done and don't want me to work for them; then it is probably not a good idea for me to work there. On the other hand if I produce good work that has my name on it; then surely it is fair that this can form the basis of opening new opportunities.

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  95. MICK

    KEEP THE FAITH

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  96. Anna

    surely the biggest problem these days is that there is no HR presence in the entire recruitment process? departments are allowed to advertise, sift and interview candidates with no impartial HR person in attendance to ensure there is no funny business. In my view that is a far more serious problem.

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  97. Jimmy

    I welcome this reform, but bias is often evident at interview stage. Furthermore, some Departments will bypass these rules by appointing staff through 'Expressions of Interest'. That is recruitment under another name, but isn't defined as such. Some senior managers persist in appointing those in their own image. Typically young, middle class and privileged graduate 'hipsters', who have the 'halo' of assumed intellectually superiority. The Senior Civil Service is a corner stone of the 'establishment', in social alignment with our 'political class'.

    The lucky few might progress from minority groups. But they are generally those wealthy enough to have shared the same upbringing and have been conditioned to 'play the game'. Most would emulate the social norms of their seniors. Therefore they act, dress and speak in exactly the same way. That's conformity not diversity, so nothing has really changed.

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  98. John Manzoni

    Thanks to everyone who has posted comments on this blog. The serious - and broadly positive - interest you've shown echoes my - and other senior leaders’ - commitment to greater fairness and diversity in the Civil Service. We don’t underestimate how much we still need to do.

    But it’s clear that there is a demand for more information on what ‘name-blind’ recruitment means in practice. We will be using this blog platform to address some of your questions and concerns. These include what the timescale for introduction is, what personal information the term ‘name-blind’ covers, how it will work within the current recruitment and appointment system, and with other initiatives to remove bias and create more diversity. This last point is important, because anonymised recruitment should not be seen in isolation or as a cure-all. What we are aiming for is a recruitment process that is as fair is it can be at every stage.

    We will be looking closely at all your comments, and will respond in detail in due course, so please keep them coming.

    John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service

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  99. Ruel Cole

    I recall reading an article in a newspaper a number of years ago regarding barriers, which people from ethnic backgrounds face when applying for jobs because of their names and place of birth. I find it disheartening, when HR/recruitment departments discriminate and operate these practices. There are two losers, the business would be losing out on a great opportunity and also the person who is denied employment.

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  100. Sue Donym

    Is the use of 'name-blind' really necessary in this campaign? As one person pointed out above, 'anonymised applications' would have done just fine, as would 'concealed/hidden name applications'. We are the Civil Service and are meant to be leading the way in making workplaces and society a better, more accessible place for everyone. We have blind and sight impaired employees. A little sensitivity and applying some common sense wouldn't have gone amiss here.

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  101. Jamie

    I am an AO in the civil service and it depresses me when I look at the weekly opportunities for E02.

    To often are recruitment opportunities Taylor made for Joe blogs in there own department.

    The eligibility criteria always state redicilous requirements that could only be obtain had you worked in that department.

    It's a friends circle of promotion that the name blind recruitment has no effect on.

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    • Freckle

      In PHE we recruit through the NHS which has been name blind for years. It's a total farce. You can always tell from experience, work history, education and personal statements exactly who everyone is.

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  102. Neil

    Will name blind recruitment, make a blind bit of difference?

    It is just another sound bite. I agree with the comments about removing the core competencies from the recruitment process. It is just another stumbling block to those who can do the job, but don't have the knack of encapsulating the core competency within 250 words. Also it depends on who marks the core competency, scores range widely, there is no common consistency in marking.

    Let us get the basics right first, excellent training for all staff not just the fast streamers, otherwise it ranks of discrimination of the lower grades. IT that actually works and does not crash every two minutes and has come out of the ark.

    To be honest training is an absolute joke in my neck of the woods it is non existent, forget about career progression, you are just marking time till either you retire or made redundant.

    What training is available outside of London, CBT (computer based training) it is absolute rubbish, sorry to pop anybodies bubble. I applied to get paid day release to do an IT course, and got rejected. I could apply for unpaid day release by submitting a business case to senior management. I declined the offer, becuase I am not in the financial position to give up a day's pay that would benefit the Civil service, eventhough I was willing to pay for the course, course material and examination fees. So much for flexibility within the Civil Service.

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  103. C Smith

    Personally I believe this is just a PR exercise. What this implies is that for ever and a day the civil service has not behaved impartially during the recruiting process?? The only good thing about it is that the impartiality of positive discrimination will not be upheld which is a good thing. People should be judged on their ability and experience and until that happens HMRC are only paying lip service to diversity. More good would be done by removing DOB from the recruitment process- although the list of experience shown would indicate age anyways. Ageism is alive and well;...........To sum up there can never be complete impartiality so get everything on the forms , have face to face interviews and get on with it...... Stop wasting time and money on unworkable initiatives................................

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  104. Karen

    Wow, this is clearly an issue that needs addressing urgently and critically, an issue that i am extremely passionate about. Employee loyalty is all too often ignored, skills an experience are also ignored - skills that are proven and checked annually, ignored.
    From the outside looking in its feels like its WHO you know, not WHAT you know, how can equal opportunities require names and ethnicities and genuinely claim that human nature WON'T prevail.

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  105. Greg

    Agree with 'Name-Blind' recruiting however, i was of the understanding that the advertised role needed candidates to be interviewed by someone who knows the role, how can someone from a different region know what happens in other regions?
    This is the Civil Service, not all departments work to rule and they operate in different ways as there are far too many 'grey areas'. Therefore, a local interviewer would know and recognise local interviewees?!!
    As for the 'Fast Track' schemes, you need to be an acrobat aswel as possess a degree for the hoops you have to jump through to be selected. If you are fresh out of Uni and are good at taking tests then you will be fine, if you have a vast amount of experience across the Civil Service then forget it.

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  106. Colin Brown

    This would make sense for external recruitment to the Civil Service. It makes little sense for internal recruitment.
    Recruitment within the Civil Service now completely ignores the views of the manager as to whether or not an individual is capable of the role they apply for. No surprise then there is a cottage industry of application completion from those skilled in the completion of competency based application forms.
    The person best able to judge to decide whether someone is capable of promotion, or moving to a new challenging role, in an internal appointment is the person who judges there performance every day - their manager. Spend the time on training and developing their judgement and less on dubious gimmicks and you'll end up with a better Civil Service
    And if managers are not capable of judgement for appointments why do we use them to make performance asessments around pay?

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  107. S Mackie

    This could potentially have a minor impact on the empire building that currently takes place. It will not have a major impact as units will now include essential criteria which allow only the people they want to recruit to apply in the first instance. Increasingly essential criteria are being used to stop the recruitment process from being Open & Fair. For instance Higher Officer Operational posts in Immigration now require you to be PIP Level 2 trained before applying. This means only fully trained Immigration officers can apply. Where is the diversity if no new blood can be introduced due to the recently introduced ridiculous essential criteria? Including unnecessary essential criteria limits the possible pool of candidates to those already in the positions. This means we miss out on ideas on how to continually improve the way we work from new members of staff with different skills/perspectives. I’m afraid unless more changes are implemented the process will never encourage diversity or be Open & Fair.

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  108. Amy Price

    I'm fully behind this and would like to think that it was already happening in the majority of workplaces, especially the civil service. But that could just have been me being idealistic 🙂
    Nice to see our leaders encouraging diversity, inclusion and fairness

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  109. Anonymous

    I too am fully behind Name-blind recruitment as when being operated properly it is of course a much fairer process at the written application stage. I am not sure if it has arrived at the Home Office yet as I helped out with recruitment sifting last year and I had access to the whole application via CSR, including the name. I have also applied for jobs in the HO and for one post was indeed informed that the sifting was done Name-blind but am not particularly convinced having had access to names myself when I sifted. Also, as previously mentioned by others you can be identified from information such as your work history and CVs. Yet still so much more work needs to be done on competency marking as it is way too subjective. I haven't really changed my competencies in the last few years and if I don't get through managers say to me 'yes but did you fully look at the indicators'. I am not too convinced that this is reasonable feedback especially as giving you one example I scored a 3 for an operational role and was sifted out but scored a 6 for the same example as the trainer for the same operational role and was sifted in. There is no consistency and a number of people complain on how they keep getting scores such as 6s and 2s for the same comp and pretty much the same role or they'll be sifted in with a 5 one year in phase 1 but sifted out some months later with a 2 for the exact same example and post in phase 2. The whole process is therefore most exasperating and though I loathe doing tests would rather that process be put in place versus competencies, at least it is fairer. Additionally, I believe on-line tests done at home are quite useless as you will find that a number of folk will get others to sit for them. Having also worked in one HR office many years ago where exam papers just used to be left around on desks to be copied and passed onto friends and family, I believe that external bodies should be used and the security should be at a level such as with those of sitting GCE exams. Maybe the Department of Education should take on board the operation of all government recruitment assessments?

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