'Name-blind' hiring may not achieve diversity, prof says

'Name-blind' hiring may not achieve diversity, prof says

A Carleton University professor says the federal government's new 'name-blind' hiring pilot project might not meet its goal of a more diverse workforce.

The government announced the pilot project last week, saying it would withhold the names of applicants for jobs with the six largest federal departments.

The results of the pilot are expected in October.

The goal is to cut back on "unconscious bias" against people with non-English names, as research has shown a significant difference in hiring rates between them and people whose names sound English.

Rob Shepherd, a professor at Carleton University who focuses on government management, told Ottawa Morning host Hallie Cotnam Monday morning it's not a guaranteed solution.

"Is the idea to try and improve diversity in the public service? In which case you might actually be wanting to look for those individuals," he said.

"If you're putting a screening process together that puts everyone on a level playing field, the hope is you're going to get more candidates in the screened-in pool that are going to be of the variety you're looking for."

Target screeners?

Treasury Board President Scott Brison said during Thursday's announcement the pilot is a "clear-eyed, hard-headed effort to get the best out of our population and to recruit individuals to public service that can benefit all Canadians."

Shepherd said any step toward improving fairness in hiring is a good thing, but suggested the government may want to take a closer look at the people who screen applications.

"The repair might actually be [to] get better screeners who are more representative of the public," he said.

"Rather than put the onus on the file, put it on the people doing the screening."