Monday, 19 October 2009

Hey! Listen to this one! There were these three job applicants . . .

Have you heard the one about the Asian, the African and the White person who all applied for the same job?

Surprise, surprise, the white person got invited to interview far more often than either of the others.

Undercover researchers for the government (sounds a bit dodgy to me…) sent out 3,000 job applications with false identities. In order to assess possible discrimination by employers against people with foreign names, the CVs used names from three different communities: Nazia Mahmood, Mariam Namagembe and Alison Taylor. The applications were created to paint a picture of similar experience and qualifications and every false applicant had a British education and work history.

It emerges that people with African and Asian names had to apply for 16 jobs before getting an interview, although applicants with ‘white’ sounding names only had to apply for nine jobs before getting an interview.

Jim Knight, minister for employment and welfare reform, called the results “shocking” and said he was considering barring employers found guilty of racial discrimination from applying for government contracts.

The use of standard application forms, a practice favoured within the public sector, does appear to suggest that discrimination might be reduced by the use of such forms. The results showed that public sector vacancies, which usually use standard application forms, did not discriminate at the initial recruitment stage.

Employers discriminate against foreign-sounding names

  • The use of standard forms rather than CVs does appear to eliminate a degree of discrimination at the application stage. Are the results of this research sufficient to warrant the mandatory introduction of either anonymous CVs or application forms?
  • What do you think of Jim Knight’s threat to bar employers found guilty of racial discrimination from applying for government contracts?
  • Will we ever completely eliminate discrimination (of any type) in the workplace?

1 comment:

  1. Confused by this one - if standard forms still require you to enter your name then it would seem logical to me that it’s not the name that has the impact.

    As for making applications anonymous - if you have a broken leg you don’t just decide to hop on the other, you fix the one that’s broken!! If you have organisations that have to change the forms they use to ‘fool’ those that may discriminate then what do you do about the behaviours outside of the recruitment process – when it comes to promotion, opportunities for development etc?

    As for Jim Knight’s threat I would have expected the Government to already be applying exacting criteria to organisations bidding for government contracts. It’s a bit of a worry therefore that this is a threat now – surely that should already be in the contract!!

    As for completely eliminating discrimination – until such time a we have robots running the world, we humans will always have our perceptions about others: he wears a hoody therefore he’s a wrong un; she’s got white hair therefore she’s old and past it, he’s over 50 so couldn’t possibly fit into this youthful organisation; the list goes on and on. All we can do is heighten awareness to ensure respect for all and work with individuals to break down those barriers.