A radical proposal to ban names from job applications to prevent discrimination – backed in principle by the CIPD – has been slammed by HR chiefs as "bureaucratic" and "unworkable".
Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP and party spokeswoman for equality, proposed an amendment to the Equality Bill at its second reading last week, which said job candidates should avoid putting their names on written applications to prevent employers gleaning any information about sex, race or age prior to interview.
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), told Personnel Today the no-name CV proposal would help to prevent discrimination taking place at selection stage, but cautioned against it becoming mandatory.
"It's a good idea, but there's a danger of the Bill becoming too restrictive with clauses like this," she said. "I'd be happy to see it promoted as good practice guidance."
Unions and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation also backed the proposal.
But HR directors were outraged at Featherstone's suggestion.
Hazel Mitchell, HR director at broadcaster ITN, said: "This is bureaucracy gone mad. The key to all this is a fair and thorough recruitment process, from initial selection through to hire. Perhaps if MPs had some 'real life' HR experience, unnecessary clauses like this would not be dreamt up."
Mike Campbell, people director at airline Easyjet, said: "[The proposal] would be unworkable and make an already stressful process for applicants even more impersonal, and it certainly doesn't address the core issue of discrimination."
Other HR chiefs were adamant the function was already doing all it could to prevent discrimination, making any law like this unnecessary.
Neena Tebbutt, HR director at financial services company Dollar Financial Group, said: "HR is more than capable of supporting line managers in helping recruit the best people from the widest pool possible, and able to warn of the consequences of using discriminatory practices. Legislating in this way suggests that employers widely discriminate, which I don't believe is the case."
The Conservatives also rejected the idea. A spokesman said: "We are aware of the issue of 'pre-recruitment' discrimination, but we are not convinced this proposal is the best way forward."
But last week, Featherstone told Personnel Today: "Just as students who sit exams are asked to put a number down instead of their name to ensure the marking is unbiased, so job applicants should put down their national insurance number... to ensure those who get to interview stage can let their personality shine through."
The Government Equalities Office, which introduced the Bill last month, said it would consider Featherstone's idea when the Bill reached committee stage, for which no date has been set yet.
The Bill, which includes measures to force employers to publish their gender pay gap from 2013, passed its second reading after a Conservative motion rejecting it was defeated by 322 votes to 139.