Dutch job candidates face discrimination based on gender, age and ethnic background

Dutch job candidates face discrimination based on gender, age and ethnic background

Many Dutch people have faced discrimination in applications for jobs based on their personal data such as age, ethnicity or gender, according to a recent survey.

Candidates overlooked due to age, ethnicity or gender

In a survey conducted by Unique employment agency, 24 percent of job candidates who reported to have been rejected based on personal data had an ethnically diverse background, compared to 12 percent of native Dutch people.

Director of Unique, Diana Magielsen told AD that she is not surprised by the results. “We have been researching discrimination on the labour market for three years now and these results are, unfortunately, comparable to those of a few years ago. That proves once again that it is good to keep putting this topic on the map, especially with what is going on in the world right now.”

The survey showed that age is also a widely-reported reason for rejection. Nearly a quarter of participants reported that they were turned down by recruiters or employers for being too old or too young.

Job applicants conceal personal details for better hiring chances

Half of the respondents said that they have begun to feel insecure due to discrimination in the recruitment process. To have better chances of being hired, more than a third of respondents concealed or emphasised certain details about themselves in subsequent applications to recruitments agencies or companies.

Magielsen says: "Nobody should have to pretend to be different than they are. Nobody should be rejected for who they are. Isn't it all about the person behind the CV during a selection procedure, rather than it being about a nice summary on paper?”

Candidate selection without prejudice

Anonymous CV Week, which has been running for a few years, is an initiative by Unique, in which only anonymous CVs are used so that recruiters can select without prejudice. CVs are sent out from Unique to recruiters without any date of birth, gender or origin.

Any other dates that might indicate a candidate’s age are omitted, such as date of completion of education or the date the candidate began working. Anonymous CV Week is part of Unique’s plan against discrimination, which yields positive results each time. 

"Of course we would prefer that this is not necessary, but you don't simply eradicate discrimination," says Magielsen. She explains that although many employers strive for diversity, they unconsciously find it difficult to remain unbiased. 

Unique regularly shows the results of Anonymous CV Week to clients, so that they can see what happens when personal data is omitted. “They often admit that they might not have hired someone if they had known more about them in advance.”

The employment agency hopes that more companies will become more aware of their bias. “We absolutely do not want to point the finger and say that they are not doing well. We only want to point out to them what is happening within the organisation. Employees should do the same, for example, they can say, "I see you turn someone down every once in a while because of their age - do you notice?”

Rachel Deloughry


Rachel Deloughry

Rachel is a writer, editor and digital content creator, passionate about the arts, culture and lifestyle.

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