Migrants Changing Names To Get Jobs

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…”

But surprisingly it’s not just Asian people that feel under pressure to change their names in order to get jobs:

“Since March last year, 2029 immigrants have registered to change their names, with the top five countries of origin being Samoa (291), China (264), India (152), Iraq (98) and Malaysia (97).

Although Samoans topped the department’s name-change register, the Weekend Herald understands many of these were to add chiefly titles rather than adopt Anglicised names.”

He goes on to say that one woman had been advised by Work and Income to change her last name to make herself more employable:

“[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 from certain countries?

The article finishes off with the confirmation that in New Zealand it is illegal to refuse someone a job on the basis of the ethnicity or race. But how often do you hear about prosecutions being brought for throwing out CVs , perhaps someone should be monitoring the proportion of foreign sounding applicants that make it through to the interview stage with some employers? How many prosecutions are brought every year for this?

“Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says it is unlawful under the Human Rights Act to refuse immigrants a job or an interview because of their ethnicity or race.

It takes away someone’s chance to be judged on their merits and it goes against the idea of New Zealand as a fair society.”

Is New Zealand a fair society? for some it would appear not to be, not at all. How many westerners would feel the need to change their name to get a job in New Zealand?

The report has already been picked up in blogs in Asia:

Singaporenewsalternative.blogspot.com: Asians-ditch-identities-in-hunt-for

6 thoughts on “Migrants Changing Names To Get Jobs

  1. Just because you know something does not mean that Kiwis want to learn it or they might find out “their own solutions” are crap.
    I taught apprentices the Kiwi way and an alternative way. Every time, they’d say “why don’t we do it that way here?”
    You’ll never know how wrong you are if you never let any other method be used or learned.
    She’ll be right, just as long as we keep our heads in the sand.

  2. Im from the US and every race gets a job here. We have a high respect for the inteligence and work ethics of the Asian and Indian people. Of course there are many different people that have these characteristics, but just talking about Asian and Indian right now. We live in Irvine, CA. And our neighborhood is primarily asian.. with a melting pot of everybody else. Im white and love the diversity.

    • I completely agree, Indians and Asian do well in US than here. In NZ, Indians and Asians are looked down upon as a second class race, and kiwis like to ‘limit’ them into their curry shops and fish and chips outlets by their stupid constructs. The result? A fledgling, incompetent work culture and worthless monkeys who borderline to the competencies of some South American nations. Heck, I have seen Phd holders driving taxis here because they are overqualified, foreign, or of the wrong color. While the low IQ, low achiever white kiwi shills with nothing much than a NCEA keep running the show. And this is the very fundamental problem that every educated migrant has to suffer here, they realize that is no level playing field for them here and eventually leave.

  3. funny, yet in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Mainland China, you find white people with the best jobs, the most well paid jobs, and they speak not even a smattering of the local lingo.

    That is the meaning of white privilege.

    • Another example of that is : If you’re Asian and you “only” speak 2 languages fluently (able to have discourses on philosophy and the sciences in such a language, and are professionally certified for the same) …
      you are somehow “less accomplished” than a guy who grew up with monolingual but has fundamental problems with spelling, grammar and punctuation … and can only swear in another language.
      Seen that happen. Too many times.
      When image replaces substance … the consequences only become apparent with tragedies or financial losses.
      But perhaps that’s a form of justice too?
      Those unable to appreciate the good, reap a harvest of the bad.

  4. Interesting post and I think this is just ridiculous to change one’s name in order to get a job. This is just wrong in all levels really.

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