Are Companies Discriminating Based on Candidates' Names?

Posted by Nicole Williams on 06 February 2017

A job seeker with an English name was offered three times the number of interviews than an applicant with a Muslim name, according to a BBC test.

Inside Out London sent CVs from two candidates, “Adam” and “Mohamed”, who had identical skills and experience in response to 100 job opportunities.

Out of both tests, Adam was offered 12 interviews, whilst Mohamed was offered four.

Although this sample size is small, the studies’ findings follow the same pattern as previous other studies.

Both fake candidates applied for 100 jobs as business managers in advertising sales in London. After two and a half months, Adam was offered three times more interviews than Mohamed. Also, as part of the study, both CVs were uploaded to four job sites. Adam was contacted by five recruiters, whilst Mohamed was contacted by only two.

Professor Tariq Modood from the University of Bristol analysed the findings and said: "What we've identified very clearly is that the Muslim-sounding person's CV is only likely to get an interview in one out of three cases.”

"I thought the response rate would be more like perhaps, one in three, but it's two in three so it's worse than I thought, especially in a city like London.”

"It's so diverse, people coming in and out of the city, from different parts of the world, looking for work, a city very hungry for talent. Yes, it's worse than I thought."

The findings show clear discrimination against religion, belief or lack of religion or belief, which goes against the Equality Act 2010.

Calls are being made for ‘name-blind’ applications to spread further, after it was announced in 2015 that they would be used for UCAS, the University and College Application Service, which is used by any student who wishes to apply for higher education in the UK.

Companies such as the civil service, BBC, NHS, local governments, KPMG and HSBC also pledged to use name-blind applications to avoid discrimination, but the service has only been implemented by the Civil Service so far.

Jonny Gifford from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said name-blind recruitment was a "really obvious thing for all employers to be doing where possible".

He added: "It's clear it makes a difference to the numbers of people from minority groups, in particular for ethnic minorities, who get a chance of getting an interview.”

"It's also a really easy thing to implement. There's no real reason to not be doing this."