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Black jobseekers change names when applying for jobs

Black jobseekers are Anglicising their names in order to get interviews during the recession, according to a new report.

The New York Times carried a feature showing that African-Americans – whose African identity has already been stripped away through enslavement – are altering their names in a bid to get back into employment.

Could this be the case in Britain? We would be interested to know. If you have changed, or tweaked, your name during this downturn to get ahead in the job market please get in touch by emailing lester@obv.org.uk

The American paper highlights the case of Barry Jabbar Sykes (pictured above) who goes by Barry J. Sykes in his job quest, even though he has gone by Jabbar his whole life.

Others, like Johnny R. Williams, have changed their CV to erase black-specific activities or memberships. Williams struck out his membership of the African-American Business Students Association.

So are black jobseekers compromising themselves by changing their names or expunging colour from their resume, or are they simply doing what is necessary in tough times?

We doubt this situation is unique to the United States. We reported in September that the head of the UK government’s Ethnic Minority Employment Taskforce, Iqbal Wahhab, went public with his anger at Britain’s failure to tackle the “ethnic penalty” in the jobs market.

A month later a senior civil servant warned that the UK was in danger of losing a generation of black talent during the recession.

With a whole shelf full of reports on the persistent nature of race discrimination in employment, it would not be surprising if black communities adopted job seeking tactics to try and overcome the bias of employers.

We’ll be following this issue up, so get in touch as we’d like to hear your experience.

By Lester Holloway

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