If you’re a fan of The Voice (or forced to watch it because your spouse is a fan) then you’re familiar with The Blind Auditions that start this singing competition. If not, it’s not complicated: four judges have their backs to a singer who walks on stage and the judges cannot see them. The judges only base their decision as to whether the singer should continue in the competition on the sound of their voice: not their name, appearance or performance, just their ability.
Lately I’ve been hearing from many lawyers who are facing challenges obtaining job interviews, despite having incredible resumes, marks and being educated at some of the top law schools in Canada and around the world. These lawyers who are having challenges are, like me, people whose names are not “traditional Canadian names”. When people see the name Inga Andriessen, they often presume (wrongly) that I was not born in Canada. I don’t think they presume that my English will be accented, but they might think I’ll sound like an Ikea Commercial (again wrong, I’m of Dutch descent, not Swedish and the only accent I have is Canadian,eh) or they might think that I’m tall and blonde … well, that’s a bad example as I am both.
Regardless, assumptions are made based on names and despite all the talk about treating everyone equally, that’s not what is actually going on in the world. People are still being discriminated against based on their presumed lack of English skills, lack of training or, in the worst case scenario, because they are the wrong colour.
I’ve never understood employers making decisions based on race, presumed country of origin or any other factor other than ability. You lose out on great talent that way: it just doesn’t make sense.
So, my clever solution is this: let’s conduct job interviews like Blind Auditions. If the candidate has the right degree and level of achievement, then do the interview without knowing the person’s name, without actually seeing them, and make your decision based on ability, not stereotypes. Personally, I’d like to get a special “The Voice” chair with a red button I can press to spin around once I’ve decided to hire the candidate: that would be awesome !
I’m not actually suggesting this happen, but I’m pointing out, if you’re pre-judging candidates based on their name and don’t even bother to read how accomplished they are on their resume, you’re likely missing out on some great talent.
Inga B. Andriessen JD