Blendoor is a new app that aims to reduce unconscious bias in the recruitment process.
It’s been launched by a San Francisco-based tech entrepreneur, Stephanie Lampkin. The app connects employers with potential employees, but hides the applicants name, gender and ethnicity.
‘There’s a saying that if you have a brain you have bias,’ says Lampkin in a phone chat with GSN.
‘In terms of hiring, how that translates is if you take resume and change the name from Joe to José, you will see a big difference in response.
‘Another study also found that having a white American-sounding name, was the equivalent of having an additional eight years of additional work experience on your resume.’
‘So what we’re doing by hiding the name and photo is giving opportunities for companies to minimize unconscious bias and to focus on those experiences relevant to the role.’
Indeed, a study that many HR practitioners will be aware of is one undertaken by professors at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘Are Emily and Brendan More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?’. This found that ‘White names elicit about 50% more callbacks than African American names.’
Blendoor work a little like Tinder - users swipe left or right to find a match
Blendoor work a little like Tinder – users swipe left or right to find a match
Lampkin heralds from Washington DC. As a child, she and her mom – a single parent – moved in with mom’s sister in the city.
‘[My aunt] was enrolled in a Computer Science program at the University of Maryland,’ which made a lasting impression on the young Stephanie.
‘My first images of a future scientist were from another black face, and that was really influential on my trajectory. I was coding from 13, and a full web developer from 15.
‘I was fortunate to get into Stanford, where I got a management, science and engineering degree, and went on to work for Microsoft for five and a half years. I then quit Microsoft to go to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to do an MBA.’
She then launched her own travel app, but it floundered and she found herself applying for jobs again with major tech companies.
She says it was after she was turned down for a data analytics role that she had the idea for Blendoor. She received feedback saying she was one of the best candidates but the prospective employer thought she might be better suited for a sales or marketing role.
‘At the same time, tech companies in Silicon Valley are 2% black, 2% Latino and 70% male – and they’re claiming that they can’t find enough qualified women and people of color.
‘Blendoor came out of motivation to not only connect recruiters with diverse talent but also produce data to justify that it’s not a pipeline problem – a lot of people don’t get work because they don’t look like the typical engineers or software engineers.’
‘I’d encourage people to put anything on their resume that they thought was relevant to the position’
Blendoor officially launched in March of this year with a small amount of seed capital behind it. Lampkin says she’s had great interest from a wide range of tech companies to the app, and is looking to expand the range of employers featured beyond the tech world in the coming months.
‘We want to really get it right with the tech companies before expanding it further.’
Those wishing to register their details for prospective jobs are asked for details such as ethnicity, age and gender, but that’s for Blendoor to undertake monitoring of applicants and allow employer’s to know whether they are getting applicants from certain sectors.
For example, if Blendoor tells an employer it’s getting no applications from LGBTQ people, it can then take action to raise its awareness with LGBTQ job seekers.
‘We give them broad level view, such as “75% of your applicants are women,” or so many percent are LGBTQ.’
And what about sexuality? Some studies have found that when people disclose their sexuality in job applications, they can be less likely to be called for interview.
One US study published this year found that women perceived to be LGBT are 30% less likely to be called back for admin and clerical jobs.
Lampkin, who is gay herself, says that she doesn’t think people should ever have to hide who they are – particularly from companies that may welcome LGBTI applicants.
‘The companies coming to Blendoor are specifically coming because they want to recruit diverse talent,’ says Lampkin in response to this. ‘So, including that sort of information is actually advantageous. I’d encourage people to put anything on their resume that they thought was relevant to the position.’