Why I don’t believe in blind hiring

imgresIn the last few months I have talked to a few start-up companies who have created technologies that can help companies do blind hiring.  It essentially eliminates all bias that might happen on the companies side.  It can also help companies zero in on people whose skill sets are much more aligned with the job that they are hiring for.  The case for that would be that someone would stick with that job for longer creating higher retention.

The concept of figuring out a way to dig deeper into someone’s skill sets to match them with the appropriate job makes sense.  That this would help the person making the hire have zero biases on the other side of the table is an interesting one.  Certainly we all wonder about that when women pitch their companies to a room of men but is that the end all be all to the problem?

Here is why I don’t believe in blind hiring.  I have personally made a conscious decision to invest in women and minorities.  If I just shut my eyes then perhaps I would not have ended up with so many of my investments in something that was important to me.

When companies start to hire their team they have to make a conscious decision that they are going to be gender balanced.  Maybe the people walking in the door are not the women they want to hire but just a slew of great men for the job or perhaps the other way around.  Then work harder and find the people you need to create the balance.  They are out here.  I have had this exact conversation with many founders.  Make a commitment to gender balance and make a commitment that the next hire will be a woman or a minority…whatever is it you decide but decide what you want your company to look like.

Equal treatment is supposed to be color blind but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way.  Many might be against affirmative action but if has forced many companies to advance the employment of women and minorities.  I am not convinced we are ready to be completely blind when it comes to hiring people.  I believe we need to make conscious decisions to hire with balance in mind.  Not only do people benefit from it, the companies culture benefits the most.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    The world is not color or anything blind. Neither am I. I think it is unnatural to think that we as people are objective. This is good to eliminate what is bad and good to give us intent to make changes for the better.

    1. Gotham Gal

      intent to make better changes needs to happen with eyes wide open.

      1. awaldstein

        couldn’t agree more.

      2. Sierra Choi

        Agreed, and an algo isn’t going to be enough to see to make these decisions for us.

  2. CCjudy

    having worked in tech many years recruiting people I say it is important to know who you are hiring and for what and to create a Match

    1. Sierra Choi

      I am curious, if you don’t mind sharing. How do you know when something is a “match” based on resumes and CVs alone? Do you actually meet with the candidate?

  3. Sierra Choi

    How can you hire people without meeting them in person? Seems so illogical. It’s like hiring someone based on their multiple test scores.

  4. Laura Yecies

    I thought these tools were more for blind “screening” – not actual hiring e.g. when the hundreds of resumes come in from an online or other application the first screen is done with the names and other demographic information hidden? That seems to make sense to me but of course you need to meet people to hire them and then it can’t be blind. I just this week finished reading “What Works Gender Equality by Design” by Iris Bohnet. Very well researched book that talks about unconscious bias and using systems/processes to support diversity and equality. I heard Iris speak at the DLD conference and was impressed – I highly recommend the book (though it’s a bit longer then it needs to be). https://www.amazon.com/What

    1. Gotham Gal

      You are correct. It is mostly blind screening.

  5. Pointsandfigures

    For commodity jobs, (lower skilled, etc) I think you can certainly do some blind hiring depending on the nature of the job. But, for a company that is trying to build a culture, no way. I do love the concept of The Risky Hire which a lot of minorities and women might fit into.

  6. Brandon Burns

    I think you can do something semi-blind.Blind upfront, to make sure everyone gets into the funnel fairly. But after you’ve weeded the pool down to candidates verified by their skills instead of their identity — which should lead to a fair and balanced candidate pool — then you can interview them as you normally would.Recruiters weed out candidates by pattern matching resumes / portfolios / credentials, looking for people who’ve previously worked at another company that they know and respect (i.e. tech companies want candidates who’ve been at Facebook, Google, etc.) or they’re looking for awards, or some other vanity metric that maligns candidates who have the skills but don’t have the resume bling. And we all know the stats on how having a female or ethnic name on a resume decreases your chances.I think it is perfectly valid to make a blind screening process, so you set up the funnel fairly. And then once you have your shortlist from that, then interview and judge the candidate in person, and hire as you see fit.FWIW, I’m one of those people working on a blind hiring product. I think the key is having a blind screening process not just for diversity sake, but to improve and add value to the recruiting process overall. It should be so great of an experience, that it’s the best way to screen any candidate, no matter their background. I think I’ve cracked it, but we’ll see once testing starts.