This was in today’s edition of the New Zealand Herald:
“A Syrian job applicant was told he should change his name to something more Kiwi because conservative southerners would think twice about working with him.
The Syrian, a 22-year-old Auckland-based man with a civil engineering degree, was applying for a graduate position within architectural business GM Designs of Invercargill…” read more here
Is this still happening in New Zealand? we’ve been blogging about this issue for years, read our blog from 2010 – Migrants Changing Names to Get Jobs and read the story of Yik Kun Heng, who was unable to find a job because of his Chinese sounding name. Or read Skilled Migrants Drive Taxis to Survive
Surely by now New Zealand should’ve got itself out of the dark ages, well last century at least, and got on top of workplace equality regardless of race. Is it really that hard?
Irishmen are ok
During an email exchange seen by the Herald, company boss Graeme McMillan asked for a photograph, his country of origin and how long he had lived here. When the applicant asked why, Mr McMillan said: “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.”
Ouch, old stereotypes die hard.
The Herald published an abridged and edited version of Graeme McMillan’s email to the Syrian applicant:
“Any employer wants to understand your background … including manners and cultural acceptance irrespective of any academic credentials.
“Unfortunately any southern NZer client … would possibly think twice about dealing with anyone with a Middle Eastern name. You may even take a Kiwi name to break down such a disadvantage … it is a major drawback. I offered the placement to an Irish engineer due to his cultural similarity and acceptance by most Southerners.”
We think the Syrian job seeker should consider changing his country to somewhere where discrimination does not go unchallenged, and where he is less likely to have to drive a taxi to make a living.
Have you experienced similar discrimination? we’d love to hear from you.
Regardless of your race, if you’re thinking about applying for work in New Zealand you may find the following blog invaluable:
Edward Gay in The Herald is telling the story of a graduate who was allegedly told to by the Department of Work and Income ( WINZ) to remove her degree and experience from her CV if she wanted to find short term work… lots more here