Big companies hiring in France will now have to accept anonymous CVs from job candidates, the country’s highest administrative court ruled this week, in a bid to prevent racial discrimination in staffing choices.
A law has been on the books since 2006, but since then the government has failed to decree exactly how employers should put it into action.
Normally, laws need to be implemented within "a reasonable delay” after they are voted in.
But without pressure from trade unions and employers to decide on the practicalities of the legislation, the rules were quietly ignored.
On Tuesday the Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) ordered the government to enforce the rules – which apply to companies and organisations with more than 50 employees – within six months.
It is a big victory for anti-discrimination groups.
Democracy activist and politician Vincent Chauvet, who launched the campaign to implement the law while studying at Sciences Po University in Paris, said it was an important step in the fight against discrimination.
“It doesn’t make the whole recruitment process anonymous, because you can’t interview someone anonymously,” he told FRANCE 24.
“But it does mean that an applicant won’t get his CV thrown in the bin purely because his name is Mohammed,” he added. “This measure will kill discrimination at the first stage of the recruitment process.”
Chauvet, a member of the centrist MoDem party and deputy mayor of Burgundy town Autun, explained that in small localised experiments using anonymous CVs, “the number of applicants went up exponentially because people felt they wouldn’t be discriminated against”.
On Wednesday, the government said it would launch talks after the summer holidays to work out how to best implement the rules with companies that will be concerned.
According to leading employment agency Cadre Emploi, information likely to be omitted from CVs would be the name of the applicant, their email and postal address, their photo (commonly used on French CVs), nationality, marriage status, place of birth and employment history more than 15 years old.
Also absent will be hobbies and interests, which could give clues to the applicant’s background, as well as social media information.