Conservatives on Implicit Bias

I’m not a huge fan of David Cameron, even though he was once very kind to my grandmother, who lives in his constituency, but it’s nice to see him taking steps on the issue of implicit bias. As he writes in the guardian:

We have managed to get some of the biggest graduate employers to pledge to anonymise their job applications – in other words, make them name-blind. That means those assessing applications will not be able to see the person’s name, so the ethnic or religious background it might imply cannot influence their prospects.

The civil service, BBC, NHS, local government, HSBC, Deloitte, KPMG, Virgin Money, learndirect – all these and more will now recruit people solely on merit. The Conservative party HQ will do it too. Taken together, these organisations employ 1.8 million people.

And we’ll go further. Some research has shown that top universities make offers to 55% of white applicants, but only to 23% of black ones. The reasons are complex, but unconscious bias is clearly a risk. So we have agreed with UCAS that it will make its applications name-blind, too, from 2017.

If you want to learn more about unconscious (or implicit) bias, the Kirwan Institute’s State of the Science Review is available here. You can learn more and take an implicit bias test at Project Implicit.

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