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More districts may join anonymous job application pilot

17 June 2008 - In addition to Westerpark, another district may start an anonymous job application pilot. The objective is to find out whether ethnic minorities will stand a fairer chance to be invited to a job interview when applications are anonymous.

Recently, Nijmegen announced that it will discontinue anonymous job applications, since there is no conclusive evidence that this method increases the number of ethnic minority candidates who are invited to an interview. However, the local GroenLinks branch says this is because the pilot was too small.

Westerpark wants to increase the number of participants in the pilot by applying the procedure to all departments and by inviting a second district to join the test. There have been discussions with Slotervaart, but a spokesperson of that district says that anonymous job applications are currently not being considered there.

Further, two districts are to serve as a reference group. Noord has already started collecting data for that purpose.

Academic research has demonstrated that candidates with a Moroccan-sounding name stand a 22% smaller chance of being invited to a job interview than candidates with a Dutch name, even though they have the same qualifications.

Last year, at the initiative of Rutger Groot Wassink (GroenLinks), Westerpark decided to start an anonymous job application pilot. Originally, the pilot would start in the autumn of 2007, but this was postponed to 25 March 2008. The postponement was necessary in order to properly prepare the test, the district said. The pilot will last six months.

Groot Wassink says the postponement is 'an awful pity, for I'm very curious as to the results'. However, he concludes that the results will be available in time to make funds available in next year's budget to implement the procedure on a structural basis, if there is reason to do so.

As far as Groot Wassink is concerned, the pilot will only be really succesful if the district's workforce becomes more diverse - 'and not just the receptionists'. At the same time, he finds that the government should make recruitment procedures as objective as possible. As far as it concerns the selection of candidates, this can be achieved rather easily: 'so let's just do it!'

Westerpark initially wanted to contract a private foundation to anonymise the job applications automatically. However, it was found that letters still contained information that provides clues as to the candidate's background. The district therefore decided to screen the letters manually for now.


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