Mayer Brown set to launch blind CV policy to boost social diversity

Mayer Brown’s London office is close to implementing a blind CV policy in a bid to counter bias towards trainee applicants who received an Oxbridge degree or were educated privately. 

The potential move is aimed at boosting social diversity within the firm’s London office, which currently has 38 trainees from 18 UK universities.

Staff interviewing graduates for the next trainee intake are unlikely to be given information on which university or school the candidates attended. London graduate recruitment manager Caroline Sarson, who reviews the firm’s hiring strategy on an annual basis, would be the only person to see where each candidate studied.

It follows the decision of Clifford Chance to launch a blind CV method for recruiting graduates (11 November 2013). The firm also scores potential trainees on work experience, which could include working full-time to cover the cost of tuition. It is the only magic circle firm to adopt the scheme (4 February 2014). 

Sarson said she is “fleshing out” the final details of the policy, with the firm aiming to introduce the practice by spring.

“We review our recruitment processes annually to ensure that all our applicants are judget on merit,” she said. “At this stage, blind partner interviewing is just another consideration as part of a wider review of our selection and interviewing processes.”

Diversity remains a problem in the profession, with studies consistently highlighting how unrepresentative of wider society the sector is. Despite making up only 7 per cent of the school population, pupils from independent schools account for 35 per cent of High Court judges, according to the Sutton Trust.  

The education charity also found that an independent day school student is 55 times more likely to win an Oxbridge place and 22 times more likely to go to a top-ranked university than a state school student from a low-income household.

While sources have praised the introduction of blind CV recruitment, many have cautioned that it is only part of the battle towards diversity. 

“Firms are falling down at the final hurdle,” said David Press, the CEO of graduate recruitment platform Proceed UK (21 February 2014). “[Because] the culture within the firms isn’t backing up the message. Graduates who don’t look or sound like the typical individual round the partnership table are literally ‘bouncing off’ the firm’s culture.”