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Canada Employers Favour English-sounding Names

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Employers favour English-sounding names

Survey finds that job applicants have a better chance of a callback if their names aren't Chinese, Indian or Greek

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun - October 14, 2011 3:20 AM

If your name is Alison Johnson or Matthew Wilson, an inventive national study suggests you could do better in the job market than if you go by Min Liu, Samir Sharma or Lukas Minsopoulos.

A comprehensive survey of employers in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto has discovered that job applicants with English-sounding names have a much better chance of receiving a callback than if they have Chinese, Indian or Greek names.

Released today , the new report, titled Why do some employers prefer to interview Matthew, but not Samir?, was based on employers' response rates to thousands of online job applications.

The study, supported by Metropolis B.C., a federally funded diversity-research agency, was conducted to find out why recent immigrants are struggling much more in the Canadian job market than immigrants did in the 1970s.

To test possible discrimination by human resource officials in Canada's largest and most multi-ethnic cities, academic researchers sent dozens of employers identical resumes - changing only the name of the applicant.

On average, University of Toronto researchers Philip Oreopoulos and Diane Decheif found that resumes featuring English names were more than 35-per-cent more likely to receive a callback than a resume featuring Chinese, Indian or Greek names.

Of the three cities surveyed in 2010, however, the study discovered Metro Vancouver employers, both large and small, were the least swayed by the ethnicity of applicants' names.

In Vancouver, resumes featuring English names were just 20-per-cent more likely to get a callback than those with Chinese or Indian names.

The Metropolis B.C. study is the first of its kind to cover ethnic hiring practices in three major Canadian cities, as well as to quiz job recruiters about why they make their hiring decisions. It also suggests ways to combat possible bias.

The researchers interviewed time-pressed Canadian employers who told them they were highly concerned that job applicants with foreign backgrounds would have inadequate English-language and social skills for the Canadian marketplace.

But the researchers also suspect many recruiters, whom they found fearful of making a "bad hire" in a tough economic climate, were making many decisions based on "subconscious" ethnic discrimination.

"It should not be overlooked that many recruiters are clearly concerned that immigrants may lack critical language skills for performing well on the job," concluded Oreopoulos and Decheif.

"It appears that many employers' unconditional concerns are based on real productivity worries. [However] we cannot rule out that the stated reasons for discrimination belie underlying prejudice."

The researchers theorized that name-based discrimination may well be a factor in Canada, since recruiters did not seem to improve their callback rates if resumes emphasized that applicants with Chinese, Indian or Greek-sounding names were fluent in English or French and a mother tongue.

The extensive study for Metropolis B.C., whose federal funding will run out this year, was conducted by having researchers respond to online job ads in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Each sample resume said the applicant had a bachelor's degree and four to six years experience.

In a related test of Canadian hiring practices involving immigrants, the researchers sent out a series of virtually identical resumes to company recruiters - changing only the country in which the applicant had job experience.

"We find that employers value Canadian experience more than Canadian education when deciding to interview applicants with international backgrounds, suggesting that employers are more interested in internationally-born applicants with more Canadian experience," wrote Oreopoulos and Decheif.

Recognizing the importance employers place on good language and communication skills, the report recommends that recruiters find ways to efficiently assess an applicant's English or French - including by making quick phone calls to see if an interview would be worthwhile.

To counter possible ethnic discrimination in hiring, the authors also suggested that hard-pressed recruiters "consider masking names on applications before making initial interview decisions."


© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

source: http://www.{censored}/life/Employers+favour+English+sounding+names/5549572/story.html


Joginder Singh Foley

Jan 26, 2008
Stoke On Trent
I wonder how if i applied to such employers for a job using my pre Sikh name [Mark Johnathan] then turned up to the interview with turban, kakkars and long beard, Interviewer..Mr Mark johnathan Foley,Me..yeap that's me...interviewer..but you're a Sikh, me 10 out of 10 for observation what sort of person were you expecting then ?



May 9, 2006
Hehe, nice one Joginder Ji!

At my workplace, we don't discriminate, in fact we have quite a multi-cultural mix.

However, I have done some work for our HR, and will admit it is difficult when I go to make a call to someone with an unfamiliar name, because I worry they will have a thick accent and I will not be able to understand them and that is very awkward and embarrassing for everyone concerned. Luckily I'm getting better at least at hearing through Indian accents now (not so much the Dutch and Greek people though).

Another thing which I find tricky is when I must write a letter to a candidate, and I can't tell by their name if they are male or female! Instead of 'Dear Mr. Sandhu' they get 'Dear Amarjit' instead because I just don't know what else to put!

I love it when people put their gender or Mr/Ms on their resumes when they have unfamiliar names! Thank you so much to those people who do!

Kanwaljit Ji: We have an employee whose name is Vijender Singh and everyone calls him VJ, I wonder if he feels the same way you do. I don't work at the same location as him which is a pity, but when he came to our office for a meeting a few months ago, I was preparing the room and dropped some drinking glasses on a bench and they smashed. The girls in the room just laughed (and I'd even offered them cookies moments beforehand, sheesh!) but it was VJ and another man who helped me clean up the broken glass. I was very happy that our Singh friend stepped up (without even knowing my name or my religion)!

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
I wonder how if i applied to such employers for a job using my pre Sikh name [Mark Johnathan] then turned up to the interview with turban, kakkars and long beard, Interviewer..Mr Mark johnathan Foley,Me..yeap that's me...interviewer..but you're a Sikh, me 10 out of 10 for observation what sort of person were you expecting then ?


Joginder ji,

Guru fateh.

I remember your being in Florida when I used to visit another Sikh forum some years ago.

Now I realise that you have moved to London. A big change in the weather to say the least.:)
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