Name too foreign-sounding? Perceived ethnic origins can influence recruitment processes, study finds

Name too foreign-sounding? Perceived ethnic origins can influence recruitment processes, study finds

09/04/2015
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A recent study finds French job applicants with foreign-sounding names are much less likely to get callbacks from recruiters. Researchers from the Paris School of Economics and Stanford University sent out fake resumes to apply for real jobs in Paris. All six resumes detailed identical work experience. The only differentiator was language skills on two of the resumes.

 

The two French-sounding names received 70% more callbacks than the other four names – two of North African origin, and two that sounded foreign, but were hard to place. “Foreign applicants, whether their specific minority group is identified or not, are equally disadvantaged as compared to French applicants across all dimensions under study – for both genders, and whether or not more information is available in the application,” the paper found. The reason? A preference for people who are more like us.

Unfortunately, findings like these are not limited to the French. American researchers had similar conclusions in a study: “Are Emily and Brendan More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” Applicants with white-sounding names were 50% more likely to get called for an initial interview than applicants with black-sounding names. Applicants with white names need to send about 10 resumes to get one callback. Applicants with black names need to send about 15 resumes to achieve the same result.

“We’re not claiming that employers engage in discriminatory behavior consciously, or that this is necessarily an issue of racism,” wrote Marianne Bertrand, a researcher on the study. “It is important to teach people in charge of hiring about the subconscious biases they may have, and figure out a way to change these patterns.”

Lack of diversity within top-tier companies has recently come under scrutiny. Just last month, Google revealed only 2% of the company’s global workforce was black, and 3% Hispanic. In the U.K., the BBC also recently came under fire for not hiring staff of black and minority ethnic origins. Firms with diversity tend to innovate and out-perform others, a Center for Talent Innovation study finds. Employees at these companies are 45% likelier to report that firm’s market share grew over the previous year. They are 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market. Inclusivity is not just the right thing to do, but it has clear business benefits. If current hiring practices persist, both companies and candidates lose.

“As rapidly shifting demographics change the face of the consumer, today more than ever before, companies need to understand how to link innovation, diversity and market growth,” says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation. The problem seems to start at the beginning of the recruitment process. Steps to introduce anonymous CVs have achieved mixed successes in Australia and abroad.

 

In Australia, it’s unlawful to disadvantage employees and job seekers in any way because of their:
• race
• colour
• gender
• sexual preference
• age
• physical or mental disability
• marital status
• family or carer’s responsibilities
• pregnancy
• religion
• political opinion
• national extraction
• social origin.

In Australia, national and state laws cover equal employment opportunity & anti-discrimination in the workplace. You are required by these laws to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. It’s important that as an employer, you understand your rights and responsibilities under human rights and anti-discrimination law. By putting effective anti-discrimination and anti-harassment procedures in place in your business you can improve productivity and increase efficiency.

 

iHR advises that following Equal Opportunity legislation and principles can not only help you avoid time-consuming and costly litigation, but also have positive effects on your business. iHR Australia is the largest independent provider of anti-bullying, harassment, discrimination and EEO training across Australia. Our onsite and public EEO training programs address relevant state and federal legislation, individual and leadership behaviour, workplace culture and the impact they have on compliance, performance and brand.

Our training does more than inform about lawful behaviour – it addresses desired workplace behaviour and practices that reflect organisational values, create culture and increase motivation and staff engagement.