Anonymisation of Applications

Introducing anonymised applications to support the objective of reducing the impact of unconscious bias in PSS recruitment

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Reducing the level of unconscious bias in the recruitment of professional services staff


Update - 31 October 2019

The anonymisation of applications for professional services roles is now live in the School's e-recruitment system! From 31 October 2019, the personal details of all applicants for professional services roles will be witheld at the shortlisting stage. This page details the guidance and support which is available to managers and staff about the anonymised process, as well as providing some of the historical and strategic context behind the anonymised applications project. 

Please contact if you have any queries.

In addition, a number of step-by-step e-recruitment guides have been produced to guide managers through the stages of the recruitment process as it works under anonymised applications. These guides are available within the Step-by-step guides on this page

A number of 'quick' cards and videos have also been developed to guide managers through different aspects of the e-recruitment system:

Overview of the e-recruitment system'quick' card; video 

Shortlisting in the e-recruitment system: 'quick' card; video

Scheduling interviews and assessments: 'quick' card; video

Progressing to verbal offer and second fund check process: 'quick' card; video           

Please note that the videos have no sound. 


Strategic context for anonymised applications

Recent scrutiny of the School’s recruitment practices, in relation to supporting the equity and diversity framework, led senior stakeholders to make recommendations on how these practices can be improved. One of the key recommendations was the anonymisation of job applications for professional services recruitment.

This change will demonstrate that employees at LSE can thrive, develop and succeed in the School based on their talent, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic. The introduction of anonymised applications is also supportive of LSE 2030, in particular Priority 3: Develop LSE for everyone

The overall objectives of the project are to:

  • Enhance current recruitment practices appropriately so applicants for professional services roles can be shortlisted anonymously
  • Create a definition for what the LSE means by the anonymisation of job applications and associated guidance
  • Ensure that systems, tools and roles supporting an anonymised shortlisting process are based on the principals of the School’s anonymisation definition
  • Operate with recruitment processes that de-anonymise applicant details at the appropriate stage of the recruitment process
  • Deliver the School’s vision to reduce unconscious bias in the recruitment of professional services staff
  • Enhance the reputation of the School by signalling a strong commitment to focus recruitment on skills and qualifications
  • Successfully benchmark against other leading organisations in its field for its anonymised recruitment practices
  • Ensure that, throughout the project lifecycle, there is high user engagement, creating user buy-in of the above project objectives which in turn will support implementation

The development of anonymised applications

Project Timeline

Lent Term 2018

The School commits to address the outcomes from the Equal Pay Review (2013) and Pay Equity Report (2016), particularly with regards to the following questions:

  • What can we do to increase the chances of a greater proportion of strong female applications for senior PSS positions?
  • What can we do to encourage a greater proportion of strong BME applications for middle to senior PSS positions? 

One way in which the School aims to reduce unconscious bias in the recruitment and selection process for PSS staff, is by introducing anonymised applications and re-framing candidate guidance to more strongly promote an approach which minimises potential biases. 

The project will be delivered via the new Stage Gate Methodology which includes collaboration with users and stakeholders to design an anonymised recruitment and selection solution that anonymises candidate personal details at shortlisting stage. It also considers systems that incorporate best practice recruitment, from across the School community and wider Higher Education sector. 


March 2018

The project team and project board members are identified, with representation from a cross-section of areas of the School, in particular those with high volume recruitment or niche requirements. 

The scope of the project is agreed and a 'straw person' exercise is created to map the process from vacancy approval -> confirmed shortlist.


April 2018

A ‘kick off’ meeting with the project team is held on 11 April 2018 to welcome members to the project, establish roles, and key timelines for the project. 


May / June 2018 

A discovery exercise across the School is completed, requesting feedback from all areas as to how the proposed changes will impact recruitment practices currently taking place. Communications are issued through the HR Partnering team, Business Clusters and a Qualtrics form is sent to managers across the School. 

In addition, a benchmarking exercise is undertaken against other HE and Russell Group institutes to establish what other organisations have done or plan to do in order to reduce unconscious bias. Feedback received is collated in to a report, which is used in developing a proposed solution. 

Workshops are held with the project team to establish, in detail, the changes required at each step of the process. A change requirements matrix is created outlining the impact on systems, policy, roles and guidance. From this work, a proposed solution to deliver the project is created, with the intention of sharing this with the wider School audience for feedback and comments in Validation Workshops. 


Summer 2018 

Validation workshops are held in July and August 2018, and all staff are invited to attend. The validation workshops are part of the project methodology, and are an opportunity to share views and experiences to help shape and validate the proposed changes to the recruitment and selection process. The idea is to ensure that all departments / divisions are represented and have the opportunity to attend. 

Feedback from the workshops is presented to the wider School community in September 2018 for further comments, in the form of a Validation Report. 


Michaelmas Term 2018

A business case to fund the development and implementation is submitted for consideration in early September 2018, and the project is approved, taking it in to Stage 3 (Solution Development). 


Lent Term 2019

Solution implementation.


Summer and Michaelmas Terms 2019

Roll out of training for managers and communications to raise awareness ahead of go-live date. 


31 October 2019

Project goes live. 

Explore the Process Map

The process map shows what the selection process looks like for the majority of recruiting managers, in an ideal world. 

Please click here to view the Process Map. 

Process map key

Green circles – ‘runner’ processes: core assessment services which all students will either pass through or be affected by

Red circles – ‘repeater’ processes that not all students will need to access

Blue rectangles – the inputs and outputs that students receive from each service touch point

Yellow squares – rules, policies and regulations that enable services to work effectively and consistently

Purple ovals – dependent processes or services 

Reading the process map

  • The green ‘runner’ processes are the main core selection steps that all recruiting managers will take when conducting recruitment and selection at the School. These are designed to be as efficient, consistent and streamlined as possible.
  • The red ‘repeater’ processes are ones that not all recruiting managers will undertake.
  • ‘Stranger’ processes are not represented on the level 3 and are not designed into the process from the outset. These are exceptions to the main processes that might happen only very rarely. Two key concepts in these circumstances are that of continuous improvement and ownership. If something occurs that is not part of the process those involved reflect on whether it is likely to come about again –if it is then the repeater process is updated to accommodate it.
  • The blue rectangles represent the inputs and outputs that recruiting managers receive from each service touch point, such as the ‘applicant pool’ from which they shortlist candidates for interview from.
  • The controls (the things that enable the services to work effectively and consistently such as business rules, policies and regulations) are represented by the yellow squares.
  • Any dependent processes or services are represented by purple circles.

Validation Workshop Resources

The following resources are available from the validation workshops held during Summer Term 2018:

Anonymised Applications Validation Workshop Presentation

Anonymised Applications Project: Process Validation Report