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How Much Does Your Name Matter In The Job Market?

The truth behind ethnic name bias for job seekers


What's going on?

Names are part of the fabric of our society, giving an identity to a person and an idea of their background. In some cultures, the names parents give their children can reflect values or character traits they wish their children to have. However, studies have shown that unfortunately, job seekers with a non-English name send 60% more applications on average to get a positive response than those with an English name.


There is more than just political correctness behind efforts to resolve this, it is, in fact, a matter of law. Companies are legally forbidden to show discrimination in hiring and are at risk of prosecution if they do so. Hence, companies spend a lot of money on training sessions to counter unconscious bias in their hiring managers. It is to the point some organizations have suggested removing a candidates name entirely from job applications, leading them to be judged solely by their qualifications.


Studies also found that small and medium-sized enterprises with perhaps less cultural diversity can be reluctant to hire those with foreign-sounding names. Sometimes, however, bias has worked in favor of some minorities. People with Asian sounding names can get priority in the tech sector due to stereotypes made about their ethnicity. Due to this, the movement to remove names from job applications has attained high levels of support. Various organizations are already practicing this, examples being the British Civil Service, BBC, HSBC, and Deloitte.


Is your name holding you back?