The objective of this systematic and critical review was to assess the evidence about the capacity of Anonymous Application Procedures – AAP (for example CV de-identification, ‘blind recruitment’) to reduce discrimination towards ethnic minority groups, women and other under-represented or stigmatised groups in personnel recruitment and selection processes.
We analysed 24 experiments embedded in 15 publications. The results indicated mixed evidence of discrimination being detected in these studies. When discrimination was observed, AAP appeared effective at reducing discrimination towards women and ethnic minority groups at the CV shortlisting/interview invitation phase of the selection process.
In a few studies, AAP were also effective at reducing discrimination towards women for job offers. However, this positive effect on job offers was not observed for ethnic minority groups. AAP seemed more cost-effective when (i) there was evidence of discrimination, (ii) there was a critical mass of job-ready candidates from protected categories, (iii) done in large recruitment campaigns, and (iv) anonymisation was effective. However, because of the way AAP are designed and presented to the public, they can also lead to several unintended consequences, including creating the appearance of merit, neglecting equity in recruitment and selection processes, and perpetuating inequalities. We provide recommendations to improve AAP and outline an employment-life-cycle approach to reduce workplace discrimination and enhance inclusion.
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