A BBC report today said that 22-year-old university graduate Jorden Berkeley was once told by a careers adviser to ‘whiten’ her first name on her job applications after four months of unsuccessful efforts to find work and only being offered unpaid roles.
The black graduate from London who was encouraged to include her middle name, Elizabeth, to increase her chances, said:
I did not really understand this seeing as my name isn’t stereotypically ‘ethnic’ or hard to pronounce, but it was worth a try and I changed it anyway, I have been getting call backs ever since.
With unemployment rates for black women nearly three times higher than those of their white counterparts, Jorden went on to say:
I have many, many friends who were effectively told to ‘whiten’ their CVs by dropping ethnic names or activities that could be associated with blackness. It was a very sad realisation.
However, Jorden, who has gone on to set up the non-profit organisation Young Black Graduates UK with two other black women believes that the experiences she has faced have made her more entrepreneurial.
Due to the economic climate, we encourage our members – who are mostly of Afro-Caribbean origin – to create their own opportunities seeing as it is becoming more difficult to gain employment through traditional avenues. British society will always be run by the pale, male and stale; but at least now there are groups and individuals trying to change this.
In the same report, a half-Bangladeshi. half-Arab woman also described how she changed her name to seem less Muslim. This helped her to further her chances of job opportunities yet she still suffered discrimination at interview stages and was even asked to make her appearance more “white” in a job that required little customer interaction.
Do you agree that there is still racial discrimination when looking for a job? And have you ever tried a similar move when job-hunting? Let us know in the comments.