Are New Zealand Employers Racist?
Watch this video about a very personable New Zealand man of Malaysian descent, Yik Kun Heng, who is unable to find a job because of his Chinese sounding name.
Racism is the “ugly face of racism in New Zealand today” and kiwis still have a lot to learn about personal race relations”
All of his classmates with European sounding names have secured good jobs, but 170 job applications and three University degrees later, he’s been advised by his careers officer to change his name to something English sounding like “John” if he wants to do the same.
Yik has refused to do this, having a strong sense of personal identity and integrity.
The only work he’s been able to find is basic admin support for a Telco – far removed from his post graduate qualifications in political science. He is so ‘fed up’ that he has decided to go back to Asia after calling New Zealand home for the last 22 years, another talented and skilled migrant who may’ve contributed so much will be lost to New Zealand. No wonder the country is being left behind.
When asked what he will tell people from abroad about New Zealand, he says:
“New Zealand is an amazing country, BUT in terms of the employment side they have to be really prepared to make the tough decisions on how much they’re willing to give up or how much they’re willing to sell because of the racism“
Emigrating to New Zealand from an Asian country, or planning to study there with a view to applying for residency when you graduate? This video is for you.
Video Link - Are New Zealand Employers Racist?
Prof. Paul Spoonley, mentionedin our other blog below, also appears in the studio discussion in the video. He is “Regional Director (Auckland) and Research Director for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University.
He is project leader for the FRST-funded Integration of Immigrants Programme. He is past Chair of the Management Group for the Building Research Capability in the Social Sciences (BRCSS) Network. He is the author or editor of 25 books on topics such as ethnic relations and identity, political extremism and employment.” source
Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission receives, on average, 472 complaints about racial discrimination, incitement and harassment each year.
Race complaints regarding employment are the most frequent and Asians are the most common target.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said if you marginalise a community you are only hurting yourself.
“If people are employed below their level of qualifications then that is a loss to the economy. If they’re not employed at all, that is a loss to the economy.” source
You may also be interested in our other blog:
Migrants Changing Names To Get Jobs (April 2010)
Lincoln Tan has written another excellent article about the problems that migrants are having finding work in New Zealand during the present tough economic climate.
According to Mr Tan an academic says that businesses often eliminate Asian sounding applicants at a very early stage in the interview selection process.
Surely that is racial discrimination?:
“Desperate job-seeking Asians are not only taking on Anglicised first names but also officially ditching their traditional surnames for European-sounding ones in the hope that will help them find work in New Zealand.
One Chinese woman even changed her name to Brenda Jones in an attempt to get a job interview in the tough economic climate.
About 21,000, or 9.2 per cent, of the Asian population are without jobs, and experts say their foreign-sounding names have contributed to their unemployment woes.
Massey University researcher Paul Spoonley says New Zealand employers, especially in small and medium-sized businesses, tend to eliminate Asian applicants very early in the process through surname discrimination…”
“[A migrant] who changed her surname from Teoh to May with an English first name, said a job interviewer at Work and Income advised her to do so.
She told me that with an Asian surname, employers will automatically think that I cannot speak English,” said Miss May, a former retail manager.
A University of Auckland School of Business survey in 2005 found anti-Asian discrimination to be significant among employers.
It found that even without immigration status consideration, having a Chinese or Indian name significantly raised chances of being considered unsuitable…”
But migrants have to pass English Language tests before being granted work visas so where does this ‘perception’ come from that they can’t speak English, or is there another reason for weeding out people… ?