British Columbia

Want to increase workplace diversity? Go in 'blind,' says entrepreneur

A Vancouver startup CEO says when you take certain information off resumes — name, age, gender, name of school — but keep more important information, recruiters can make better decisions about applicants and make the workplace more diverse.

Wyle Baoween's HRx removes names and schools from resumé in an effort to reduce unconscious bias

Vancouver entrepreneur Wyle Baoween says his company, HRx, is inspired by his own challenges finding work after coming to Canada from Yemen. (CBC)

Going into a situation blindly is usually inadvisable, but Vancouver entrepreneur Wyle Baoween says more employers should embrace "blind hiring." 

Baoween's startup, HRx, is an employment company that matches employers with job seekers, except that when employers receive resumés from applicants, there is no gender, age or name attached.

"We keep what matters to recruiters: we show them the skills, the position, what kind of company this person worked at, we show them the education, the degree, but not the name of the school," Baoween told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

Baoween says by doing this, unconscious biases against certain applicants are removed and diversity is promoted in the workplace.

For instance, according to HRx, women are only half as likely to get an interview when compared to men with the same qualifications.

Further, people with "ethnic"-sounding names need to send out 50 per cent more resumés before they get a callback.

Been there himself

Baoween started the company because of his own experiences struggling to find a job after coming to Canada from Yemen five years ago.

He says he graduated from the University of Victoria at the top of his MBA class but had to send out hundreds of applications before getting an interview.

He doesn't know if there were biases working against him, but says after working in recruitment technology, he saw many unconscious biases in recruiters.

"They are biased towards fancy school names, towards big company names," he said. "They make a lot of judgments based on that."

HRx only conceals information at the outset. When a recruiter wants to know more about an applicant, the information is no longer withheld.

Baoween says the company has received seed funding and is working with 17 companies who have pledged to increase workplace diversity.

With files form CBC Radio One's On The Coast

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