I am not at all surprised to see that leading companies and universities are being asked to remove names from application forms in an effort to stop "unconscious bias" against potential recruits from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
No doubt some will repeat the mantra 'political correctness gone mad' again but in my experience this is not only necessary but also likely to be better for both applicant and recruiter in the long run.
Certainly from a legal perspective it is relatively easy for an applicant to accuse a potential employer of discrimination. The burden of proof then shifts to the employer to show a non-discriminatory reason for their decision. Whilst this can often be done that process can be time consuming and costly. In addition, no-one likes being branded 'racist'. As a result, anything which an employer can do to protect itself and minimize the risk of being accused of discrimination the better. Put simply, if you don't know and haven't asked you can't be accused of having discriminated on that basis.
Of course, even if you don't intend or wish to discriminate there can be a unconscious tendency to recruit 'people like me'. As humans we make instant snap judgments and assumptions whether we like to admit it or not. Someone's name can fall into the category of information rife for assumption. Of course, the recruiter may not always go with those initial thoughts but they were still there. Surely any step which helps the recruiter at the initial sift phase focus on the skills, attributes and experience which are actually relevant to the job or course the better .
It is for these reasons after all we don't see age, marital status or general questions about health on application forms any more (or at least we shouldn't!).
Who, What, Why: What is name-blind recruitment?