This @ericries piece from last weekend is one of the smartest things I’ve read on race & meritocracy. He discusses how the gender makeup of major symphony orchestras changed radically after implementing a simple change: Making people do their auditions behind black screens, so the auditors can’t see gender or race, but can only hear the music they’re playing.
I previously described on my blog one simple change I made to the hiring process at my last company. I asked all of our recruiters to give me all resumes of prospective employees with their name, gender, place of origin, and age blacked out. This simple change shocked me, because I found myself interviewing different-looking candidates – even though I was 100% convinced that I was not being biased in my resume selection process. If you’re screening resumes, or evaluating applicants to a startup school, I challenge you to adopt this procedure immediately, and report on the results.
Related anecdote: When I set up a blind submissions system for tinywords, the result was an almost immediate diversification in the number of authors. Instead of reading bylines first, we had to concentrate on the poetry itself. It turns out that even people with respected names can write bad poems — and people with no name could write poems that would blow you away.
Now, many hires are made through recommendations and social networks, so the implicit bias problem won’t go away overnight.
But I think I am going to implement something like this the next time I make a public call for job candidates or interns.