Slough, Uk (PressExposure) January 11, 2010 -- Race advisers and equality campaigners have called on the government to make "anonymous" CVs and job applications compulsory to overcome discrimination against women and people with African or Asian surnames.
Some British companies have already begun stripping out personal details so those deciding who to invite for interview are only told about their qualifications and experience, and not their ethnicity, gender or age.
The government's ethnic minority taskforce is due to report in the new year on the findings of research commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions which uncovered widespread racial discrimination against workers with African and Asian names.
In France, a group of 50 firms and local governments is beginning a government-led test of recruitment via anonymous CVs, under which information such as names, age, sex, date and place of birth, nationality and marital status will be banned.
Jeremy Crook, the vice chair of the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group and the Black Training and Enterprise Group, said such a move would be a step forward in the UK.
"We know from the recent research evidence that there is discrimination in applications, and in particular CVs and where names are prevalant," he said. "A lot of people aren't even getting to the door."
Ashok Viswanathan, the deputy co-ordinator of Operation Black Vote, said: "Anything that makes selection proportionate to people's skills rather than their ethnicity would be a move forward."
Tom Hadley, of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said he had seen a growing trend towards anonymity. "A lot of companies are doing it to cover themselves in case candidates claim there's been discrimination," he said. "We've seen it particular with agencies who work with public sector organisations or with blue chip companies who are quite ahead of the game in terms of diversity and equality."
For the last two years, BP has been removing all the personal background detail from the applications for the 160 graduate positions it awards each year.
"We do it to make it as much a meritocracy as possible," a spokesman said.
Researchers commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions sent nearly 3,000 applications for 987 vacancies under false identities, using the names Nazia Mahmood, Mariam Namagembe and Alison Taylor. Each had similar experience and qualifications, and had British education and work histories.
But the results, published earlier this year, showed that applicants who appeared to be white had to send nine applications before receiving an invitation to interview or an encouraging telephone call while candidates with the "foreign" sounding names had to send 16 applications before receiving a similar response.
The vacancies the researchers from the National Centre for Social Research applied for were in nine occupations, ranging from accountants and IT technicians to care workers and sales assistants, and based in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester.A spokeswoman for the government's equalities office said: "The taskforce will be meeting in January and we are waiting to hear the taskforce's recommendations about the findings in their report before any further decisions are made."