Discrimination Rife on Job Candidates Names
Employers are being warned not to discriminate against people with non-British names during the recruitment process, after a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) survey revealed that discrimination is still rife in businesses.
According to the research, for every 9 applications sent by a job candidate with a name suggesting they were white British, an equally competent applicant with an ethnic minority name had to send 16 to get a positive response. Applications were sent to 987 job vacancies in the private, public and voluntary sectors.
“This research clearly shows that some employers are discriminating when it comes to choosing staff,”
said minister for employment and welfare reform, Jim Knight.
“This has no place in a modern society and racial discrimination cannot be allowed to continue.”
Under the Race Relations Act (1976), it is unlawful for employers to discriminate on racial grounds. Acas equality specialist, Steve Williams, said that most employers would not deliberately discriminate against applicants, and those that do so are opening their businesses up to unlimited compensation claims.
“We are surprised by these findings, as our own experience suggests that most businesses wouldn’t deliberately do this and that most employers are just interested in getting in the best person for the job,” said Williams. “This is direct racial discrimination, which is unlawful.
“Job hunters can take an employer to an employment tribunal if they suspect they have been discriminated against. It is then up to the employer to prove they had an innocuous reason for rejecting the applicant. It is very difficult for an employer to prove their innocence if they are accused of this.
“A small business should judge applicants purely on their ability and how they perform at the interview,” said Williams. “If an employer assigns other managers to carry out the recruitment process, they must monitor it to make sure they are trained in anti-discrimination practice which would include fair selection and interviewing, and not make judgements based on people having names that suggest ethnic heritage.”
Lynne Featherstone, MP, is currently campaigning for an amendment to the Equality Bill so that names and other personal details are taken off job application forms, to stop employers from gleaning any information about gender, age or race before calling candidates in for an interview. The new legislation is due to be implemented in October 2010.
For further information read our business advice article on discrimination.