Name Discrimination

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Name Discrimination

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Name Discrimination Effects of an Ethnic Name on the Application Process

Human Resource Management/Employment Law Class Ms. Gwen Babb, Instructor May 14, 2012

Name Discrimination

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Abstract

A job applicant's skills, education and work experience are not the only determining factors in an employer's hiring process. An applicant's name can greatly influence an employer’s decision to review the resume or invite an applicant for an interview. In spite of laws that protect against discrimination, it is difficult to protect against an individual's intentional or unintentional bias when it comes to weeding out applicants with difficult to pronounced names or “name discrimination.” An applicant with an ethnic sounding name, hard to pronounce name or a name that either projects or is associated with a certain image, can place the applicant at a disadvantage. An applicant should not be forced to alter their name to be considered for employment. However, some extend that to assimilation into the workforce. Presenting a resume with strong knowledge, skills, abilities and experience may lessen the affect of potential name discrimination, yet research demonstrates name discrimination still exist. Employers should also make more of an effort to enforce practices, such as redacting the names of applicants on resumes during the initial screening process.

Name discrimination has been observed in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and other places with minority populations. It is also associated with assimilation and linguistics. However, this paper will review the impact name discrimination may have on African American/Blacks and/or the potential impact of ethnic sounding names and the application process.

Name Discrimination

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Name Discrimination Effects of an Ethnic Name on the Application Process

In an election year, where the incumbent President of the most powerful nation in the world is Barack Hussein Obama II, his wife is Michelle Obama, and the first children are Malia Ann Obama and Natasha “Sasha” Obama, surely an African American or Black job applicant living within this nation should not be concerned with “Name Discrimination.” The Obama’s are the first minority Presidential Family and happen to identify themselves as an African American family with children that have afro-centric or ethnic sounding names. President Obama’s name have an African/Islamic back ground and the first lady, Michelle Robinson Obama is un-mistakenly African American, most would argue that the name “Michelle” although somewhat common is indeed more common in the “Black Community.”

Unfortunately, research within the last decade supports findings that name discrimination exists. More and more information is documented supporting the fact that a person’s name may very well impact a broad spectrum of a person’s life, to include politics, economics, gender and employment. As we look more closely at “ethnic or black names and the job hunt, the same concept can be applied to other areas of name discrimination as well. However, we will exclude the discrimination of Islamic names post 9-11, we will exclude the stereotyping and/or discrimination of Asians and Pakistani and people from India within the workforce and concentrate on ethnic or black names. In current research by the National Bureau of Economic Research job applicants with names associates as “white sounding” names had a 50% chance of getting a callback over those who had “African-American/Black sounding” names. That is,

traditional white sounding names only had to send 10 resumes to get one callback, while those that have ethnic sounding names had to send out 15 resumes per callback. One of their unsettling findings is that maybe it’s employer bias in play, or the perception that race is tied to productivity. Only resumes were reviewed by the employers; face to face meetings never took place. Resumes with white names callbacks yielded the...
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