THE BLOG

Look Beyond the Racism on That CV in 21st Century Britain

27/10/2015 10:52 GMT | Updated 26/10/2016 10:12 BST

They call me Tam, Tami, Tamsin, Tamara and even Tanveer, is it really so difficult to pronounce a simply three syllable name Tamina in "21 Century Britain"? I can't remember a time when someone at work has not had a problem with pronouncing my name and at times referred by my surname.

I was keen to become a councillor in the County of Kent. As I didn't see anyone representing the views of families like mine and prioritising on things that mattered to me and them. I joined a political party and regularly canvassed with a group at weekends and during the General Election. With a background of community engagement it seemed a natural progression to look at becoming a local Councillor. So when there was a possibility of making a mark I sought some guidance. I emailed the local association and had my interest known to the Local Agent. I was discreetly taken aside at a Saturday canvassing session to be given a pep talk, and how the Agent thought that people around Kent would not appreciate or vote for someone with a foreign sounding name. He was comparing me and giving me examples of a male councillor who has been an MP in the House of Commons for the last 5 years.

A new report 'Rising to the Top' reveals that British Muslims are less proportionately represented in the managerial and professional occupations than any other religious group. Also disproportionately likely to be unemployed and economically inactive, and have the lowest female participation rate of all religious groups. A leading think-tank Demos recommend that the government legislate to ensure that all CVs are submitted anonymously, but also that employers use contextual recruitment when recruiting a candidate in order to understand the background of the person better. Read the report full on this link: http://www.demos.co.uk/project/rising-to-the-top/

What should jump out of a typical CV? Top skills that are succinctly and specifically address the criteria required for the job? Skills and experience linking past employments to the role applied for? No it's the name scanned within 6-8 seconds and especially if it is not a "white-sounding name as stated by David Cameron in his conference speech. He also referred to the research by Demos, that if you have an "ethnic sounding name" you are unlikely to get an interview for a role you may have applied for. David Cameron said it was a "disgrace that such racism existed in the 21 century Britain and is committed to ending discrimination. The Race Relations Act of 1965/1976 and the Equal pay act 1970 did aid in shifting discrimination but we are now dealing with more subtle discrimination. Positive words in his speech on race quality, the government need to do more to monitor the actual outcomes.

Many argue that we should campaign towards an anonymous CV? That CV that includes a summary of your educational background, work experiences, professional affiliations and other details, but excludes your name, date of birth, nationality and any other personal identifying information that may result to your being discriminated against. Good or not-so-good idea?

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On the negative side, anonymous CVs can stop candidates from standing out... hiding someone's ethnic origin may prevent the candidate from standing out from the crowd in a positive way. However, there is nothing stopping an employer discriminating against an individual when they call or email the candidate which would disclose their identity. Or during the interview. More importantly the on line search engine for those buzzwords and that email which clearly indicates a non-European name.

Eight years ago, France enacted a law that would oblige job applicants to submit CVs anonymously to firms with 50 or more staff. Steps to introduce anonymous CVs in France and years on, the law is yet to be enforced, after it deem to be counterproductive. Some research found that people of with foreign origin names who lived in underprivileged areas were less likely to be invited to an interview if their CV was anonymous. Positive discrimination was impossible to implement.

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Shame on those employers who expect candidates to spend time completing those lengthy application forms and don't even acknowledge receipt of the application or follow up with an unsuccessful email or letter. The little things make a difference, a big tick to the employers who understand the candidate experience and how it becomes their brand name to attract a future talent of employees. What needs to change is to drive up diversity in the HR and recruitment sector, having diverse staff in HR departments is key to recruitment and detainment of diverse employees. Are recruiters feeling the heat on this issue? More importantly from the government to ameliorate efforts made by employers offering more comprehensive training for recruiters and imposing sanctions on those that break the rules.