Here’s why Digitas made its anonymous CV tool free for rivals
After developing its own CV anonymization tool to weed out bias in recruitment, Digitas quickly saved over 500 hours in the drawn out recruitment process. It's now made the tech free to use for any company, including its agency rivals. We caught up with chief executive, Dani Bassil to find out how hiring has changed at the agency and what opening it up will achieve for the industry at large.
“DE&I efforts aren’t a one-size-fits-all” says Digitas CEO/ Image via Unsplash
Prior to the creation of the software Digitas would anonymize CVs by hand, with a team of digital recruiters spending upwards of 20 minutes on each application. Anon CV came into fruition after the tech team at Digitas complained of the laborious process. “In that sense, it was born out of trying to solve a problem for ourselves," says Bassil.
Alternative software on the markets were also expensive, or didn’t meet the standard Digitas was looking for, “so we just decided to create one ourselves.”
Since its implementation, Digitas has saved more than 500 hours on recruitment.
Anon CV takes out specific sets of information, including first names to eliminate gender bias as well as racial bias, Bassil explains. “It also removes career gaps, which is a big thing,” she says. “So if someone has been on maternity leave, or had care responsibilities, those gaps in their CVs will no longer count against them.”
Certain details of education and higher education are maintained, such as qualifications and degree classifications, but institutions are removed. “We can see what A-levels you got, but not where from.”
Finally, she says, it removes any record of dates of birth “as we know, ageism is a real problem in our industry so we’ve eliminated that too.” The tool then reformats the document, ensuring it is still easy to read and comprehend, allowing recruiters to concentrate on the key factors in hiring candidates – skills, experience, and achievements.
The tool was only launched in January of this year, but Bassil reports positive results so far with an uptick in BAME members at the senior level (a jump from nine to 11%) and from 15 to 18% among permanent staff.
Digitas is now encouraging other firms to adopt the tool, for free, by making the code available on GitHub. Bassil explains that it is open source so that developers will be adapt the tool for their platform and modify the source code. She says that they will also be able to suggest improvements and help to evolve the software further.
“DE&I efforts aren’t a one-size-fits-all and so hopefully through feedback we can continue to evolve and grow.”
However, Bassil concedes that the tool is only as effective as a wider DE&I effort on both the recruitment and the retainment front. “It definitely isn’t going to solve all our problems.”
She maintains that other implementations at Digitas will help to bridge the gaps, including mandatory unconscious bias training across the organization, as well as other projects such as its ‘Brave Spaces’ initiative, where workers at every level are invited to speak and have an open discussion about anything going on within the organization. “We need it to be happening across the agency, at every level.”