Shauna Lewis
May 21, 2023

Adland should scrap CVs and salary questions to attract diverse talent

By removing traditional approaches to recruitment, the ad industry can mitigate unconscious bias, Brixton Finishing School founder Ally Owen argues.

Adland should scrap CVs and salary questions to attract diverse talent

CVs need to be ditched and questions about previous salaries should be scrapped to attract diverse talent, Ally Owen, founder of Brixton Finishing School, has said.

Speaking at Campaign Media360, Owen said: “Can we look at dumping CVs and being a bit more task-orientated?”

She added that the number of young people who cannot afford to go into higher education had jumped from 11% to 25% in the past year.

“It doesn’t really matter if they’ve got a Duke of Edinburgh Award – I want to see if they can turn up on time and listen.”

Later, Owen said questions about salary history also need to go as they are influenced by the unconscious bias of previous employers.

“I get asked for a lot of references and I get a lot of people asking, ‘What were they on?’. The fact is, if I tell you what that person was on, it has been influenced by all the bias the previous employers had.”

Owen cited the gender and ethnicity pay gap in the industry and added: “If we’re asking what people were previously on, then we are compounding a previously experienced bias.

“Maybe we should just decide what a job is worth to the business and pay somebody on that [basis], because that’s actually fair.”

Owen was also on the panel with Nikki Sehgal, general manager of Media for All, who urged the audience to invest in unconscious bias training. 

If that was a “step too far” for businesses, she said: “Get a group together and actually create that safe space where you can have these uncomfortable conversations. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

She also spoke about the importance of psychological safety and added: “That means creating a space where your staff feel like they can come to you with their concerns with no judgement and no minimisation. 

“Act on it and show them that you’re committed to putting something in place where they feel supported.”


Campaign UK

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