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PM: 'Name-blind CVs will open doors for black people'

MEETING OF MINDS: The Prime Minister meets with major organisations to discuss a new measure to tackle discrimination in the recruitment process

DAVID CAMERON has defended his scheme to introduce name-blind CVs, describing it as a “significant” step in tackling workplace discrimination.

The announcement comes weeks after his keynote address at the Conservative Party conference in which the prime minister said: “Do you know that in our country today, even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call-backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names?"

He called the research findings “disgraceful".

In an exclusive interview with The Voice, Cameron insisted the measure was not an attempt to sidestep calls for affirmative action, but a genuine attempt to improve opportunities for black and ethnic minority Britons.

When asked if the voluntary approach, which is not backed by legislation, would be effective, he replied: “I said at conference why this matters so much to me. We won’t have genuine opportunity in Britain unless we get rid of discrimination in Britain, unless we have equal treatment in Britain.

“I wanted to demonstrate that wasn’t just words; that actions will follow these words and the first step being name -blind recruitment. I think it is significant. It is important. It will make a difference but it’s not the only thing that is required.”

Cameron said name-blind CVs would prevent people from “falling at the first hurdle”, adding: “How do we make sure they can shoot to the very top? There’s lots of stuff that needs to be done there; mentoring, targets, proper measurement, setting a high ambition, making sure people can network [and] having good role models…We all need to take up these suggestions.”

Under a new agreement, backed by leading graduate employers in the private and public sector, names will not be made visible on applications. The Civil Service, EY, Teach First, HSBC, Deloitte, Virgin Money, KPMG, BBC, NHS, learndirect and local authorities have already committed to the initiative.

Cameron agreed that the only way to ensure the effectiveness of the initiative was to measure outcomes and said organisations should “consider setting targets and [outlining] ambitions”.

He added: “All organisations that decide to do name blind applications will then want to measure what happens as a result. I can give you lots of research evidence to say how powerful it is and what a big difference it makes and that has certainly been the case in the Civil Service. All organisations that try it will want to have their own way of measuring it and obviously we will keep track as they do.”

The PM spoke to The Voice following a Downing Street roundtable on Monday (Oct 26) attended by more than 34 organisations.

Representatives included Sainsbury’s only black non-executive board member, Jean Tomlin; Powerlist founder Michael Eboda; entrepreneur Tim Campbell, MBE and Janet Hill and Franstine Jones of the National Black Police Officers Association.

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