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Anonymous application procedures - first scheme to be launched in Germany

September 17th 2010

The German FADA will launch a pilot scheme on anonymous application procedures in partnership with five enterprises and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) will launch a pilot scheme on anonymous application procedures in partnership with five enterprises and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The enterprises involved are the Deutsche Post AG, the Deutsche Telekom AG, the cosmetics manufacturer L’Oréal Group, the active-gifts provider Mydays and the consumer goods company Procter & Gamble. The participating companies will test anonymous application procedures, ( applications without a photograph, name or information regarding gender, age,origin or civil status) for a year, as the head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, Mrs Christine Lüders, announced on August 24th in Berlin.

The one-year pre-launch trial will kick off this autumn. During the entire testing phase the pilot scheme will be scientifically monitored and subsequently evaluated. The roundtable meeting held at the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency on 24 August was the first meeting bringing together the enterprises and institutions involved in the project. On this occasion, the Institute for the Study of Labor (German abbreviation: IZA) presented its expert report, which compares international pilot schemes and propose subsequent recommendations for action. The Institute for the Study of Labor is the partner for scientific co-operation with the FADA.

Lüders mentioned a survey published by the Institute for the Study of Labor in 2010, according to which a Turkish-sounding name reduces the chances of being invited to a job interview for an internship - on an average by 14 percent, and in smaller companies by 24 percent. For the purpose of the survey, the IZA sent off applications for internships. "We start out with the assumption that the rate of discrimination in connection with job advertisements – especially in the field of low qualified jobs – is considerably higher", Lüders said. "Yet it is not right that applicants frequently do not even get a first chance merely because of their name or age. Only a person’s qualification should be decisive for the selection of applicants. What we need in is a new culture and approach to job application and selection processes."

The head of the FADA, Mrs. Lüders stated: "We proudly announce that five large-scale enterprises and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth are participating in our pilot scheme. These are renowned companies and institutions who have been very receptive to topics related to anti-discrimination and equal opportunities for a long time. I firmly believe that we will be able to convince more enterprises of the advantages of diversity and non-discrimination." Mrs. Lüders added: "In our initiative we put our hopes on persuasion and willingness. Therefore I do not understand the stir which has been caused in some parts of industry. Our prime concern is to test a procedure, which has already been widespread in other countries and to evaluate it subsequently."

Mrs Lüder objected to the argument that it was true that applicants who had been disadvantaged would get a first chance from now on, but discrimination against them would then be merely be postponed to the job interview. "On an average, a German staff member of recruitment service spends 2 to 4 minutes on examining an applicant’s documents. At this early stage we want to avoid that common selection patterns take effect. Moreover, international experience shows that, despite the numerous frustrating rejection letters, applicants who take part in the anonymous application procedures, still take the trouble to send their documents ", Lüders said.

As the expert report by the Institute for the Study of Labor reveals, countries such as Sweden, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have already launched pilot schemes for anonymous application procedures, part of them have even been concluded. "Germany is still lagging behind, as far as this topic is concerned", Lüders said. The nationwide pilot scheme of the independent Federal authority is supposed to test feasible ways for anonymous applications for the first time.