Councils slow to reduce job applicant name discrimination

People applying for jobs in the GLA will face less discrimination after the Mayor adopted my idea of ‘name-blind’ recruitment – but other local authorities are failing to take the same steps.

In July the Mayor agreed, following my questions, to make all shortlisting of job applicants ‘name blind’ across the Greater London Authority, including the police and fire services.

Evidence shows that biases towards people based on their name affects the job chances of women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds – the use of name-blind shortlisting techniques reduces this discrimination and ensures a wider range of applicants make it to interview.

Following up on the Mayor’s commitment, I wrote in January to all 32 London council leaders to ask if they would take up this practice.

Despite follow up letters, only seven have so far replied. None of the responses say the councils are already using name-blind shortlisting, but all the responses so far say the councils will consider the change.

The councils who responded to Sian Berry AM’s letter were: Camden, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea (also on behalf of Richmond and Westminster with whom they share HR services), Lambeth and Sutton.

This isn’t good enough. As a proven way to reduce discrimination and give Londoners from all backgrounds equal chances, I want to see employers across the city adopting name-blind shortlisting as soon as possible.

We should be starting with the public sector, which has clear duties to promote equality, and the lack of response I have had from councils is deeply disappointing.

The Mayor has been quick to take up my suggestions and the rest of London’s government should be following his example. This tiny, simple change could make a big difference to many young Londoners’ lives.

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