Thursday, 14 April 2016

Ethnic minority forced to change their names to get a job in the UK; study reveals.

Kayo Anosike a graduate of Goldsmiths University of London changed her name partly as an experiment to see what the response would be from an employer and within 10 days she got a job.
Photo: Facebook

A new poll has revealed that ethnic minority groups are among those most discriminated against when applying for jobs in the UK. Names are removed before CVs are assessed.

According to London Evening Standard, when Kayo Anosike, 39, was applying for jobs, even ones she was more than qualified for, she failed to get a single interview. It was only after she changed her name from one that was obviously African to a more English sounding name - Kayla Benjamin that she discovered why she couldn't get jobs. Her first application resulted in an interview and job offer immediately after changing her name.

Kayo Anosike is not alone. Nearly a quarter of professional men and women in the UK with "non-white"sounding names have changed their names to sound more traditionally British in order to get a job, according to a study by, the name-blind headhunting platform.

 In a survey of 1000 UK professionals registered with the recruitment group,Nottx, it discovered that nearly all the professionals believe they have been discriminated against in the past while job-hunting due to their name-either on the grounds of gender or ethnicity with the majority saying they felt both their gender and ethnicity were barriers to employment against only one in 10 professional men who had changed their name to get a job.

It would be recalled that the UK Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to end recruitment bias at last year's Conservative party conference, in which he referred to a young black woman who had to change her name to "Elizabeth"in order to get a job. The Prime Minister highlightened that until now has been a hidden problem.

The headhunting group Nottx has estimated that approximately 50,300 people may have changed their names in IT and finance sectors alone in order to get a job.

"There is an insidious culture of unconscious bias in the corporate world against professionals who are either female, an ethnic minority or both", says Biju Menon, founder of Nottx Group.
"We believe it may be more widespread than we originally thought. Only by recognising it, embracing ethical hiring and removing all reference to names in the recruitment process will we reach a point where no one will ever have to change their name in order to get a job again".

The Government has pledged to introduce name-blind recruitment for the NHS and Civil Service from 2020, and several large organisations including Deloitte and HSBC bank are introducing name-blind recruitment from this year.

Kayo Anosike who now works as IT trainer said: "I used to work in education, but when the financial crisis hit, i was made redundant....that is when i decided to study for a Master's in business psychology-to fill in a few gaps in my skills set.

 I did my thesis in unconscious bias and came across an old Department of Work and Pensions survey that found that you had a much greater chance of being employed if you had a non-ethnic sounding name.

But it was only after applying for job after job-even for things like admin roles-and failing to get called for interviews that i remembered this name-bias report. So it was partly an experiment to try applying in a different name, just to see what the response would be. "I made up a name similar to my own and used my father's first name as the surname. I even opened a different e-mail account. I thought it might help, but was totally shocked when the first job i applied for got me an interview and within 10 days i had a job".

"I did worry that because my name on the application did not match my ID that i would not be hired, but discovered that it wasn't unusual- all you have to do is say: 'this is my professional name' and as i also work in the music business i can explain it easily.

Kayo Anosike started her career as Dionne in the European tour of the musical Hair and now working under her own name for an enlightened firm that "is an equal opportunities employer just after talent"
"All it took was for a potential employer to meet me and see i was the right person for the job.But my name was an enormous sticking point in getting to that first stage".

Anosike might not be working as a successful IT trainer if she had not started to apply for jobs as Kayla Benjamin.

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