LinkedIn Masks Candidates to Minimize Bias

Dark Figures

While TikTok encourages users to show themselves off with its experimental video resume tool, LinkedIn now offers the ability to mask indications of color or race in a bid to minimize bias in the talent acquisition process.

The business-focused network introduced a new feature, “hide names and photos,” which is intended to conceal the most basic of identity information – a candidate’s name and picture.

.@LinkedIn now offers the ability to mask indications of color or race in a bid to minimize bias in talent acquisition. #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

The feature allows administrators to turn off pictures and names during the sourcing process. When they do, an avatar replaces the candidate’s photo and randomly generated letters take the place of their name. That way, recruiters can evaluate candidates by their qualifications and skills only, LinkedIn said.

“We know that qualified candidates may be overlooked due to unconscious bias as recruiters can unintentionally use names and photos to evaluate candidates’ qualifications for a role,” said Vice President of Product Hari Srinivasan. In a blog post, Srinivasan cited a study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago: It found applications from candidates with “Black names” got fewer callbacks than similar applications with “white names.”

Bias Behind the Curtain

Bias seems to be a particular problem on social networks, whether they’re business- or consumer-focused. An internal study by Facebook found that most users who joined extremist groups were led to them by the company’s own algorithms, for example.

Earlier this year, a user discovered that TikTok prevented him from including the word “Black” in his profile. The site flagged his attempts as “inappropriate content.” He could, however, enter “supporting white supremacy.” And a Swedish graduate student discovered recently that Twitter’s algorithms prefer “younger, slimmer and lighter faces” over bigger, older and darker features.

Just a few weeks ago, LinkedIn said it’s been revamping its “people you may know” feature to make it more equitable.

Image: iStock

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