What’s in a name? A job.

05.30.12

See, now, this surprises me not at all: Francophone name gives edge in job hunt, research shows:

If you think your ethnic-sounding last name is preventing you from finding a job in Quebec, you may be right.Candidates called Tremblay or Morin are 64 per cent more likely to get an interview than someone with the same qualifications whose name is Ben Amin or Traoré, according to a study released Tuesday by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

A research assistant applied for 581 jobs from December 2010 to May 2011 under false names, half of them foreign-sounding and the other half typically francophone Québécois. Both types of fictional job-seekers had equivalent qualifications and had been educated in Quebec.

Nearly 40 per cent of candidates with francophone-sounding names, like Sébastien Bélanger, were offered an interview, compared to only 22.5 per cent of those with ethnic-sounding names, like Mahmoud El Kamal.

For years, the usual suspects have been calling upon immigrants — some of them second- or third-generation — to learn French, get educated locally, and better “integrate” into Québec society. This research illustrates the nasty little truth that none of it matters. Employers don’t want French-speaking “ethnic” employees; they want pur-laine québécois ones.

It’s the kind of discrimination that won’t be solved by taking French classes. The only way I really see this changing is by having more diverse senior managers and company owners. Because like it or not, people still like to hire people who are most “like” them. Not getting an interview is the kind of thing that’s really impossible to prove in a human rights case. It’s quiet discrimination and nobody ever ends up having to answer for it.

As the reasonable accommodation hearings showed us, there’s a lot of xenophobia buried just under the surface of our supposedly “open, tolerant” society. Louise Beaudoin turned a few heads last year with her statement that “multiculturalism is not a Québec value“. Apparently, neither is equal opportunity. Unless your name is Tremblay, that is.

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