British employers racially discriminate against job applicants with African and Asian names.

Undercover job hunters reveal huge race bias in Britain’s workplaces (18 October 2009):

A government sting operation targeting hundreds of employers across Britain has uncovered widespread racial discrimination against workers with African and Asian names.

Researchers sent nearly 3,000 job applications under false identities in an attempt to discover if employers were discriminating against jobseekers with foreign names. Using names recognisably from three different communities – Nazia Mahmood, Mariam Namagembe and Alison Taylor – false identities were created with similar experience and qualifications. Every false applicant had British education and work histories.

They found that an applicant who appeared to be white would send nine applications before receiving a positive response of either an invitation to an interview or an encouraging telephone call. Minority candidates with the same qualifications and experience had to send 16 applications before receiving a similar response.


It also finds that public sector employers were less likely to have discriminated on the grounds of race than those in the private sector.

One reason for this discrepancy, according to the conclusion, is the use of standard application forms in the public sector which hide or disguise the ethnicity of an applicant. The research is also understood to have found that larger employers were less likely to discriminate than small employers.

Read the rest of the article at the Guardian.

This is the British version of the Canadian and American studies which found widespread discrimination against job applicants with names perceived as belonging to non-white people.

The existence of racism is why Affirmative Action/Employment Equity/positive action for racial minorities is necessary (and still insufficient) for attenuating white privilege in the job market.

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5 Responses to “British employers racially discriminate against job applicants with African and Asian names.”

  1. Renee Says:

    I am not surprised to hear this. Even if you give your child a traditionally English name, once the arrive at the interview the employer will still be disinclined to hire them. The person in question will have only wasted their time and their gas money. I fully agree that affirmative action is absolutely necessary.

  2. Restructure! Says:

    I know that people may be disinclined to hire you at the interview because of your race, despite your English/French name, but I have two hurdles—both my name and my race.

    In companies without standard application forms that hide the ethnicity of the applicant, there is often a secretary or someone who creates a short list for the interviewer to examine. In other words, if the secretary/administrative assistant is racially biased but the boss is not, a visible minority with an English/French name would have a fair chance, but a visible minority with a non-English/French name would be weeded out. If the secretary/administrative assistant is not racially biased but the boss is, both would be weeded out at the interview stage. If both the secretary and boss are biased, then the visible minority with the non-English/French name would be weeded out at the resume stage, and the visible minority with the English/French name would be weeded out at the interview stage.

  3. MerriMay Says:

    I have an english first name but African last name. In England, i have to spell it, then when they pronounce it sounds like puppy, i usually clarify that yes, the young/little dog. For the most part I get, ‘that’s a cute name’, certainly hasn’t barred me from any jobs.

  4. urbia Says:

    I thought similarly about the weeding out process when I considered networking to get around racism and sexism. For instance, when people talk about why it’s more difficult for people of colour to get employment in Canada, the explanation offered is that new landed immigrants may not have contacts that could pass their resume along (a general and apathetic acceptance that nepotism, rather than merit, is the Canadian way, but that’s another topic). They continue to explain that by the second or third generation, these POC will no longer have problems landing jobs because they would have grown up with white friends and become immersed in ‘Canadian culture,’ however that is defined (again, another topic).

    But when you think about it, even if you have a ‘white friend’ to pass your resume along to HR, it may simply stop at HR, or the person selecting people for an interview. Pretty much, the emphasis on networking doesn’t take into account this chain of desks and hands between your friend, the starting point, and the hiring manager, the end point.

    All parties must be non-racist, not just your buddy from college. You can only ‘network’ so far.

  5. Discrimination against job applicants with non-white names continues. « Restructure! Says:

    […] British employers racially discriminate against job applicants with African and Asian names. by Restructure! […]

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