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City of Helsinki mulls blind recruitment to stamp out bias

The City of Helsinki is considering anonymous recruitment for all administrative vacancies.

TE-toimiston ovi Pasilassa Helsingissä.
Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Jobseekers' applications with the city of Helsinki could soon be stripped of cultural identifiers if an anonymous recruitment motion is gavelled through by local councillors.

Under the proposal an applicant's name, sex, address and mother tongue would be redacted from CVs landing on recruiters' desks.

”Anonymous recruitment removes the ’gut feeling factor,’ which often guides us subconsciously. Anonymous recruitment gives us access to the real pool of people out there,” Malin Gustavsson, a gender equality consultant, told Yle.

An applicant's anonymity vanishes at the interview stage, but Gustavsson explained the main point is for candidates who might otherwise be overlooked to have a chance.

Last week, the government's Roma affairs expert Henna Huttu told Yle News' All Points North podcast that she favoured anonymous recruitment initiatives, pointing out that the jobless rate among Finland's Roma minority hovers above 50 percent. All Points North delved into job market discrimination against Finland’s Roma minority, dissecting a recent campaign by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences where four high-profile Finns and sent out their résumés with Roma-sounding names, resulting in no call-backs for interviews.

Partial solution

Anonymous recruitment may remove some bias in initial stages, but discrimination can also happen further down the line.

”It’s important that the same questions are posed to all applicants,” Gustavsson noted of interview situations.

Gustavsson is, however, not a fan of quotas.

”We should recruit based on competence, not gender. If an office doesn't have a single woman, you shouldn't be hired just because you are a woman,” she explained.

It's impossible to put a number on recruitment discrimination, according to Gustavsson; however, the cases reaching the equality ombudsman are just the tip of the iceberg,” she added.

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