Names hinder job search - survey


Job-hunters with foreign names are twice as likely to be blackballed by potential employers than obviously Irish candidates, new research revealed today.

A study — the first of its kind in Ireland — showed employers were less inclined to give interviews to people from ethnic minorities even if they are as qualified as Irish candidates.

The joint report by think-tank the ESRI and the Equality Authority also found high-levels of discrimination here compared with other countries.

Richard Fallon, Equality Authority’s acting chief, warned: “It does prove that a very old ghost of discrimination still haunts us.

“Moreover you’re twice as likely to encounter this spectre with a non-Irish surname than with an identifiably Irish one, that’s even with Irish citizenship and with Irish qualifications.

“So De Valera, (Constance) Markievicz, (Tony) Cascarino, move over.”

Mr Fallon said a level of favouritism was creeping in among employers towards job applicants of obvious Irish background as the economy worsens.

“Heretofore the pressure on the labour force was to take available people to meet the demands of the economy for staff, whereas now we have a surplus of candidates.

“Is it the case that people are going back to in-group thinking and saying right, we’ll go with the familiar option.”

The study, titled Discrimination in Recruitment,was carried out between March and October of last year. Researchers sent out pairs of matched CVs in response to 240 job adverts in

administration, lower-level accountancy positions or in retail.

The two fictitious applicants had equivalent qualifications, skills and expertise - all gained in Ireland. While one candidate had a recognisably Irish name, the other was either Asian, African or German.

Both candidates were invited for interview on 23 occasions.In 55 cases the Irish names were invited to interview and the foreign-named applicants were rejected, while in just 15 cases the minority names were called and the Irish-named were ignored.

Dr Pete Lunn, ESRI economist and report co-author, said that compared with other countries, Ireland suffered from high levels of discrimination. “Compared with the international literature as a whole, the rate of discrimination that we recorded in this experiment is high,” he said.

The report called for a number of measures to help root out recruitment discrimination.

These include providing more information and guidelines for both employers and workers on what the equality legislation permits, and introducing random audits of hiring practices, insisting employers keep all records of applications for 12 months.