Study reveals discrimination against job applicants with non-Irish names

Job applicants with identifiably non-Irish names are less than half as likely to be called for interview as those with typical Irish names, according to a recent experiment. The research, the first of its kind to be conducted in Ireland, found a similar level of discrimination against those with an identifiably African, Asian, or European (German ) name.

Discrimination in Recruitment: Evidence from a Field Experiment, commissioned by The Equality Authority and conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute, directly compared the behaviour of employers faced with applications from candidates who were identical on all relevant characteristics other than their ethnic or national origin.

The research team sent pairs of matched CVs in response to 240 separate job adverts. The two fictitious applicants had equivalent qualifications, skills, and experience — all gained in Ireland. The only difference was the name at the top of the CVs. Candidates with Irish names were more than twice as likely to be called to interview as those with minority names.

This level of discrimination was found to be consistent across the three minorities tested (African, Asian, German ), three occupations (lower administration, lower accountancy, retail sales ), and different business sectors.

The experiment was carried out between March and October 2008. Compared with similar experiments carried out in other countries, the level of discrimination recorded for Ireland is high.

“Everyone recognises how cultural diversity has become the norm in the Irish workforce in recent years,” said Richard Fallon, acting chief executive of the Equality Authority. “It has provided us with unique opportunities in productivity, learning, leadership, innovation, and creativity. These are the very qualities we now need to drive our economic recovery.

“The findings of this study don’t just highlight a loss of equality of opportunity for potential non-Irish job applicants. They also point up a needless loss of business opportunity if we choose not to look to the skills behind the names on job applications.”

Mr Fallon said he hoped the findings of this study “would encourage us to build again on the excellent strategies already developed by Irish enterprise to capture the successes of cultural diversity in the workplace”.



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