“Whitening” Job Applications Due to Workplace Discrimination

white_64588150_64jo8tw3Holly Wallis and Stephen Robb (BBC News) write about the discrimination and persistent barriers to employment that ethnic minority women—especially of Afro-Caribbean, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi origin—face at every stage of the recruitment process in England.

Jorden Berkeley, a black 22-year-old university graduate from London, spent four months applying for jobs but getting no responses from bigger companies, and offers from elsewhere that were limited to unpaid work experience. Then a careers adviser suggested Miss Berkeley drop her first name and start using her middle name, Elizabeth.

“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,” she said. “I have been getting call backs ever since.” She added: “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.”

[. . .] Vivienne Hayes, head of the Women’s Resource Centre charity, said ethnic minority women were facing “a ‘double jeopardy’ of oppression for both their race and their gender”. She said: “Discrimination in the workplace against black and ethnic minority women can be subtle or it can be explicit, either way we know for a fact it exists and it affects the opportunities those women get and the power they hold in society.”

After facing discrimination as a child of Caribbean parents growing up in London in the 60s and 70s, Edwardine Lochhart says it is particularly in the workplace that she has continued to face discrimination as an adult. “I found that I had to consistently work harder and put in more hours than my white and/or male counterparts,” said 52-year-old Ms Lochhart. “It was definitely the case that I had to be not as good as, but better than, others in order to receive the same recognition.”

With two other black women, [Berkeley] co-founded the non-profit Young Black Graduates UK organisation. “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.” She added: “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.”

For full article, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20608039

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