Gender equality news from Great Britain

Universities to be blocked from seeing students’ names on application forms to stop ‘unconscious’ racism

  • Applications to universities will be ‘name blind’ from 2017, PM to announce
  • Public sector job applications to also be processed without people’s names
  • Recruiters in NHS, council, civil service and BBC will not see names on CV
  • David Cameron hopes the move will prevent ‘disgraceful’ discrimination

Amid growing concern that white students are more likely to get into top universities, the Prime Minister will announce university application will be ‘name blind’ from 2017.

Millions of job applications in the public sector – including the NHS – will also be processed without people’s names in a bid to end discrimination.

Students will no longer have to give their names when applying to university in a bid to end ‘unconscious bias’ against ethnic minorities, David Cameron will announce today
Students will no longer have to give their names when applying to university in a bid to end ‘unconscious bias’ against ethnic minorities, David Cameron will announce today

It follows the announcement over the weekend that firms will be forced to make public information on whether they pay men more than women, including in bonuses.

Companies with more than 250 staff will have to publish audits of their ‘gender pay gap’. The rule will cover hospitals, schools and other public sector bodies, including the BBC.

Critics say the move could put a huge burden on firms, with some business leaders saying firms should not be forced to publish the ‘misleading’ information.

But ministers insist they are right to want to close the pay gap, which they say means men earn 19 per cent more than women.

Commenting on bias in job applications in his party conference speech, Mr Cameron highlighted the case of a black woman who used her middle name, Elizabeth, to try to find work.

The 25-year-old graduate, Jorden Berkeley, found she had better results applying for jobs under Elizabeth than her first name. This, Mr Cameron said, was ‘disgraceful’.

Under the voluntary deal, the civil service, the NHS, HSBC, professional services firms Deloitte and KPMG, the BBC and town halls will recruit graduates on name-blind basis.

Mr Cameron will meet representatives from the firms and public sector bodies at Downing Street today.

He will say: ‘I said in my conference speech that I want us to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today.’

‘Today we are delivering on that commitment and extending opportunity to all. If you’ve got the grades, the skills and the determination this Government will ensure that you can succeed.’

The new transparency rules, which will apply primarily to recent graduates, will affect more than 10 million potential workers. While applications will be name blind, age will still be viewed (file picture, posed by model)

University applications will be name-blind from 2017. Writing in the Guardian, Mr Cameron said: ‘Some research has shown that top universities make offers to 55 per cent of white applicants, but only to 23 per cent of black ones.

‘The reasons are complex, but unconscious bias is clearly a risk.’

The rules for firms, which apply primarily to recent graduates, will affect more than 10million workers. While applications will be name-blind, age will still be viewed.

“If you’ve got the grades, the skills and the determination this Government will ensure that you can succeed.  David Cameron”

And although hiding their name should disguise whether an applicant is a man or a woman, it could be revealed by other facts on their CV, such as whether their former school was single-sex.

Equalities minister Nicky Morgan yesterday said it was ‘unacceptable’ for women to find their male colleagues have been paid more in bonuses, which some experts claim is because men are more aggressive when it comes to negotiating rewards.

And she said reporting pay details ‘does concentrate minds’. She told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘That does then change, start to change behaviours, it has the conversations in the company.’

Ministers also want to see women on the boards of all of the top 350 FTSE companies. They have already met a target for women filling one in four boardroom seats in FTSE 100 firms.

Mrs Morgan added: ‘The thing about the gender pay gap is understanding why does it happen, often it’s women aren’t in high enough pay and careers, they don’t get to stay in longer before they take time out, it’s all those things, it’s building that pipeline of talent.’

The announcements come ahead of the publication this week of the final report by the Government’s gender equality adviser, Lord Davies of Abersoch, on women in the boardroom.

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