A community group that assists migrants in getting jobs says it does not encourage the use of anglicization or changing of names when applying for jobs.
New Zealand’s Auckland Regional Migrant Services Trust (ARMS) works with many skilled migrants and refugees, the majority of which get “extremely good employment outcomes”, a statement issued by ARMS says.
ARMS Chief Executive, Dr Mary Dawson, wants to encourage employers to welcome applications from internationally trained skilled migrants from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Her comments come on the back of media reports that discussed the findings of a Human Rights Commission report, titled A Fair Go for All.
The report found that not all New Zealanders, regardless of the colour of their skin, ethnicity or national origin got the same opportunity for good health, a good education, decent work and an adequate standard of living.
Mary says that anglicizing of names on CVs is still a common practice adopted by many migrants, usually for ease of pronunciation by English speakers. The practice is also a response to the fact that some employers will not consider applications from those with clearly non-English names.
“The Kiwi adage of ‘a fair go for all’ surely requires that New Zealand employers assess applications and content of CVs on their merits, without discrimination based on applicants’ names. “Applicants should be assessed and valued according to their relevant competencies and experience. Greater acceptance of diversity enhances our workforce capability, and is one key way to address major skill shortages across many industries.”
At the same time, a survey of ARMS’ job seeker migrant clients has shown a variation of views.
“I will never change my name,” says Kanchan Shenoy who has been working as an office administrator for three years. “It’s part of who I am and where I come from. I have adapted to the local culture and expect some adaptation from the people here, including potential employers.”
But that view is not shared by Edwin Socorin, an IT specialist who came to New Zealand two years ago on a work permit. “If I had a name which was hard for my employer to pronounce, I wouldn’t mind changing it.”
But is the name change really required? “I don’t think that changing my name should be relevant to getting a job,” says Gazelle Garcia, also an IT professional who has been living in New Zealand for four years. “I think my qualifications, attitude and personality should be more important.”
New Zealand Labour Party’s Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Rajen Prasad is concerned that many ethnic New Zealanders are struggling to get ahead.
“At most of the ethnic events I attend I am approached by highly qualified people who can’t find work, let alone work in their field.
“Many see this as the result of a personal failing. But this (Human Rights Commission) report sees the consistent poor performances as a failure of the institutions that provide the services and make decisions. This recognition of institutional discrimination is a breakthrough,” says Rajen.
“The report refers to racial profiling as a process resulting in discrimination in the workforce. It suggests the solution may be building organisational commitment, being proactive, involving communities and developing targeted programmes.
“I urge employers to take up these suggestions,” says Rajen.
“Stories about doctors and engineers driving taxis are just some examples of people in work that is inconsistent with their qualifications. These are highly talented, well trained people and their skills should be recognised.
“This is not a time for excuses but a time to find solutions that utilise the skills and talents represented in our ethnic communities,” says Rajen.
A 22-year job seeker, who moved to New Zealand from Syria, was told he should change his name to something more Kiwi, says a NZ Herald report.
The Auckland-based civil engineer was applying for a graduate position within architectural business GM Designs in Invercargill.
The hiring manager, Graeme McMillan, asked for more details probably to determine his ethnicity, such as his photograph, his country of origin and how long he had lived in New Zealand. When the applicant asked why, Graeme told him: “Unfortunately any southern NZer client … would possibly think twice about dealing with anyone with a Middle Eastern name.”
He said the applicant should consider changing his name to “break down such a disadvantage”.
“I offered the placement to an Irish engineer due to his cultural similarity to that of NZers and their acceptance by most Southerners, as the province was originally settled by Irish and Scottish 120 years ago.”
Graeme seemed unapologetic about his hiring process: “All Chinese that we get take on an English name that you can pronounce. When you can’t pronounce their name, it’s very difficult.”