Diversity Barometer 2020: Anonymous recruitment is a challenge that organizations find interesting

Does gender, age or ethnic background have an effect on who is chosen for a job interview? Recent survey studied HR professionals’ views about the diversity of Finnish work life.

Press release 36/2020

In the Diversity Barometer conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in 2020, 12% of HR professionals reported that some form of anonymous recruitment has been used or piloted at their workplace.

– Based on the results of the barometer it would appear that although the number of organizations that have tried anonymous recruitment is still fairly low, there is growing interest in it, says Barbara Bergbom from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

– We have piloted anonymous recruitment, which led us to observe that HR systems do not support it and it had to be done manually. However, the action plan of our HR strategy does include continuing and developing anonymous recruitment as a goal, said one respondent in describing the situation in their organization.

In current use and experiments, anonymity of recruitment has mostly applied to age or gender, and rarely to other dimensions of diversity, says Minna Toivanen.

Anonymity does not guarantee lack of discrimination

– Anonymous recruitment does balance the different groups of people getting to job interviews, but it does not guarantee being chosen. Prejudices, stereotypes and bias towards people who resemble oneself during the interview, for example, can have a much greater impact than people carrying out recruitment realize, says Barbara Bergbom.

The share of HR professionals who reported having observed discrimination in their own organization’s recruitment was 11%. The most common basis for the observed discrimination was ethnic or national background and gender. In most cases, it was estimated that discrimination by the recruiting supervisor was mostly subconscious or unintentional. Based on the results of the barometer, it would seem that the negative impact a foreign name has on getting a job is more readily perceived in the Helsinki region than in other parts of Finland.

Non-discriminatory recruitment practices were reported being used in their organization by 31% of the respondents. Other non-discriminatory recruitment practices being developed or used, in addition to anonymous recruitment, included recruiter training and clarification of recruitment instructions and policies.

Diversity related communications make organizations more interesting

HR professionals estimated that their organizations were slightly more heterogenic than homogenic. Based on the open-ended answers, there is a desire to increase the diversity of personnel in many organizations.

– Studies have shown that presenting a workplace as one that values diversity increases the interest minorities have in the organization and its open positions, says Minna Toivanen.

Slightly over half (52%) of HR professionals reported that their organization had attempted to highlight the diversity of their personnel to some extent in their visual communications.

– The selection of people in our pictures has indeed been quite homogenic, said one respondent.

Valuing diversity can also be communicated by including a diversity clause in job advertisements. In addition, job advertisements in English reach people with little Finnish skills better, while also making it clear that the workplace is interested in them. One in five (21%) HR professionals reported that their job advertisements are in English instead or in addition to Finnish. Other measures include advertising open positions in media that reaches different population groups better. Networks also play a significant role in recruitment in Finland.

– Organizations that aim to increase their cultural and ethnic diversity should develop their networks in ways that create contact surfaces with people outside the Finnish-born majority. Diversity can also be promoted by developing the organization’s policies, such as language policy to better support diversity, reminds Barbara Bergbom.

Positive developments in attitudes towards diversity

Workplace attitudes towards differences between employees have changed. In 2011, 61% of HR professionals felt that their organization accepts different aspects of diversity and encourages people to be open in relation to the issue. In 2020, 78% felt this way.

In addition, the attitudes of HR professionals towards work-related immigration have changed considerably during the 2010s. In early 2010, six out of ten (59%) supported promoting work-related immigration, whereas in the 2020 barometer up to 86% did.

The Diversity Barometer  maps the views of HR professionals concerning the state of diversity at Finnish work organizations. Diversity refers to differences between employees regarding factors such as age, gender, ethnic background, national background, sexual orientation, family situation, language, religion and ideology as well as (partial) ability to work.  A total of 250 HR professionals responded to the Diversity Barometer. The barometer was implemented as an online survey in early 2020 in co-operation with Henry ry and KT Local Government Employers. The Diversity Barometer was conducted as part of the European Social Fund project “Manifold more”, conducted in co-operation between the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

Link to the digital report >>
Link to the project website >>


Further information:

Barbara Bergbom
Chief Specialist
barbara.bergbom [at] ttl.fi (barbara[dot]bergbom[at]ttl[dot]fi)
+358 30 474 2957

Minna Toivanen
Senior Advisor
Minna.Toivanen [at] ttl.fi (Minna[dot]Toivanen[at]ttl[dot]fi)
+358 30 474 2665


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