News from Sian Berry: Councils should remove name and gender details to improve equality

09 August 2016

Councils should remove name and improve gender options

London Assembly Member Sian Berry has written to the leaders of London’s councils urging them to follow City Hall in removing names for recruitment processes and introducing gender neutral options on official forms. [1]

Sian believes that these changes will help improve privacy and data protection when filling out forms and make it harder for deliberate or unconscious discrimination to affect employment decisions.

Sian has already won the agreement of the Mayor to introduce the following measures at City Hall:

  1. Giving people the option not to reveal their gender when filling in forms to access services, including a choice of gender neutral titles
  2. Name-blind shortlisting processes when recruiting staff

 

Sian Berry AM says:

 

"Disappointingly, I have found bad practice on many public sector websites, requiring gender details when asking people to fill in forms just to access services like parking or to leave comments on planning applications.

"People should not have to choose between male and female when giving their personal details to public bodies. And people should not be subject to discrimination when applying for a job because of their name.

“These tiny changes to the current processes would be a step in the right direction to be more inclusive to all of the residents councils represent.

“The Mayor has responded positively on these issues. I hope that London's councils, if they are not already doing this, make these simple improvements to be more inclusive to all Londoners.”

 

In response to written questions from Sian Berry, the Mayor has promised to review the information that is currently required on forms across the GLA group and consider any necessary changes to make them more inclusive.[2]The Mayor has also agreed to begin using name-blind recruitment in City Hall. [3]

Many people, including many non-binary, intersex and transgender people, may prefer not to select a gender when filling in a form, or may wish to use a gender-neutral title when giving information. Public bodies are also required to follow data protection principles and avoid collecting information that isn't necessary.

In October 2015, a number of public and private organisations, including the Civil Service signed up a pledge to recruit on a name-blind basis to address discrimination. [4] Despite this, a review of the GLA group of organisations recently found several examples of bad practice, including the form to leave comments on the GLA's own website.[5]

Notes to editors

Notes:

Sian is available for interview

Sian Berry was elected as a Green member of the London Assembly in May 2016. She has been a councillor for Highgate ward in Camden since 2014.

[1] Letter to London Borough Councils https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/improving_equalities_letter_to_councils.pdf

[2] Gender-blind interactions with GLA group organisations and gender-neutral titles http://questions.london.gov.uk/QuestionSearch/searchclient/questions/que...

[3] Name-blind shortlisting for recruitment in the GLA group (1)] http://questions.london.gov.uk/QuestionSearch/searchclient/questions/que...

[4] Name blind recruitment https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-time-to-end-discrimination-and-fin...

[5] GLA Website: https://talklondon.london.gov.uk/user/register