Monday, March 7, 2016

What's in a Name? Discrimination.

It's anecdotal, but this commentary in today's Star TribuneSo 'Kristin' gets the job while 'Ebony' gets zilch — is convincing that job seekers with names that telegraph their race or ethnicity are discriminated against.

The writer's daughter, named "Celestina" for the purposes of the article, is the same age as Daughter Number Three-Point-One. Her parents, who are of Latino and African descent, had settled on the name as a nice combination of her heritages and had only heard positive reactions to it as she grew up.

But then Celestina graduated with a STEM degree and tried to find a job; no luck. She sent in a hundred applications and only got one interview, in a case where there was a family connection. So mom suggested an experiment: adopt a nickname (Kristin) and try again.

Within a day of submitting a job application, Kristin had her first interview. Within 36 hours, Kristin was contacted for interviews on all three applications she’d submitted. Despite having the same credentials, Kristin was batting 1.000, while Celestina continued at .000. After interviewing for the three positions, Kristin was a finalist for all three. She accepted one of the job offers and is now thriving at her place of employment.
More stories of young job applicants with black-sounding names follow.

The irony of Celestina's story is that her mother does training on implicit bias, which is at least part of what's going on here.

What exactly is the point of including applicants' names when reviewing resumes, anyway? All it can do is lead to biased decisions. Just as orchestras started hiring more women when they began doing auditions behind screens, maybe one little piece of general employment discrimination could be solved by removing the names from resumes.


Two past posts that included thoughts on resumes and names:

Tabs: Abortion, Sex Discrimination, Salmon, Poverty, and Wal-Mart

Tabs About Ferguson and More

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