The Bank of Queensland has removed gender identification from its job application process in a bid to increase the number of women in senior management roles.
BOQ has removed all identifying factors—age, sex, name and address—from job applications for senior and executive roles.
External communications manager Carly Johnson told SmartCompany the move, which came into effect in April, makes good business sense.
“With diversity, you get more creativity, better decision making, it reflects the customers you serve and you end up with the best talent,” she said.
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But Andrew Aston, managing director of recruitment agency Morgan Consulting, said the move goes against positive discrimination efforts taking off in the finance sector.
“If you’re looking to get an increase in the proportion of women in your workforce, not knowing if someone is a woman may hinder your ability to get more women on board,” Aston told SmartCompany.
Aston said while the move will give a greater number of candidates a chance of employment, it won’t necessarily prevent gender discrimination in the end.
“It’ll give an opportunity for some candidates to be seen and heard as opposed to being screened out on paper… but it won’t stop [discrimination] in the end because people who want to discriminate in that way, they will,” he said.
Johnson said removing identifying factors from job applications is still in line with positive discrimination because it is part of an overall BOQ policy to increase the number of women in senior roles.
Women currently comprise about 23% of BOQ’s senior management, compared to 11% in late 2011. The bank wants women to comprise 25% of its senior management by 2015.
Psychologist and entrepreneur Eve Ash told SmartCompany scrapping identification factors for job applications won’t just target gender bias.
“I’m hearing from people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and they’re saying it’s impossible to be seen fairly because there’s such a judgement about age,” she says.
Ash said she would like to see BOQ remove identification factors for all job applications, not just senior roles. She also wants other banks to replicate the move.
But Ash said it’s not necessarily practical for smaller businesses, which don’t have the same external recruitment resources.