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Cultures at work

A workplace is no place for racism.

It is a place to celebrate Australia's many cultures and respect diversity.

A sign saying 'Minds at Work' sits on a filing cabinet
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More than a quarter of Australians were born overseas. 87% of us think that it is good that our community is made up of people from different cultures. Work is one place where we meet and mix with different cultures.

But racism stills exists – especially in the workplace.

View challenging racism in a larger map

Do you think your job chances would be the same if you changed the name on your CV?

After completing TAFE in 2005 I applied for many junior positions where no experience in sales was needed – even though I had worked for two years as a junior sales clerk. I didn’t receive any calls so I decided to legally change my name to Gabriella Hannah. I applied for the same jobs and got a call 30 minutes later.

Gabriella Hannah, formerly Ragda Ali, Sydney

Gabriella/Ragda is not alone. An important study recently took distinctively ethnic names for Anglo-Saxon, Indigenous, Italian, Chinese and Middle Eastern Australians and using the same CV applied for jobs. Since the same CV was used, all applicants should have received the same call-back rate. But they didn’t.

Chinese Australians would need to apply for 68% more jobs to get the same call-back rate as an Anglo-Saxon Australian.

Middle Eastern Australians would need to apply for 64% more jobs, Indigenous Australians 35% more jobs and Italian Australians 12% more jobs to get the same call-back rate as an Anglo-Saxon Australian.

This is not based on skills or merit. It is just based on assumptions about ethnicity. It is also against the law.

Source: Alison Booth, Andrew Leigh and Elena Varganova, 'Does Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Vary Across Minority Groups? Evidence From Three Experiments' (2009)

Racism doesn’t just occur in the workplace… do you think racism is a problem, what should we do about it? Get more information on the National Anti-Racism strategy and tell us what you think.

Australians without Anglo-Saxon names have to send up to 2/3rds more applications to get a job interview.

Discuss this issue

it certainly makes you aware how hard it is for people of NESB to get into the workforce and the shameful underlying racism that exist. How are people supported dealing with this racism?
I beleive the Government's skilled migration visa should be held more accountable to ensure that migrants are made aware of the risks, additional costs and challenges associated with this visa. There have been endless investigations and recommendations, but little seems to be changing. There are too many doctors, chemical engineers, nurses, lawyers, physicists, teachers working as domestics and taxi drivers. I have even heard of migrants who have been on the verge of suicide after arriving in Australia when they realise they have to pay additional fees, they did not know they needed to pay to have their qualifications recognised. They end up using all thier money and driving taxis or other low skilled jobs that could be filled by Australians. This then can lead to racism in the community because Australian citizens start to feel resentful. The issue needs to be looked at more holsitically, they need to look at the social impacts as seriously as they look at the economic impacts . Some may argue that this is not a racism issue. They may say that qualifications need to be in line with Australian systems and values different to the countries where many of these migrants come from. However, I argue that if Australia has a responsibility , if it opens the door for these groups, then these groups have the right to full and transparent information prior to their arrival. They also have a right for assistance if they arrive and are met with one obstacle over another and have difficulty getting their credentials recognised. Too many people who come to Australia are unprepared for the many obstacles they face when they arrive in Australia. Moreover, no person or country should be excluded from applying for these visas, despite the political or economic status of the country they come from. I also think that the Government should require companies bringing in 457 Visa holders, to work in mines, or agriculture industries, to invest in community relations programs, to ensure that people who come into Australia with these visas do not become alienated or become the victims of racism because they are perceived to be taking jobs from Australians. Consequently, Austrlian companies should facilitate cross cultural training where Australians and visa holders participate in more interactive types of training, that makes the use of interpreters. Just an idea! The other issue that I hope is explored is the fact that more and more people in Australia have one Australian parent and one other parent from another country. Or one parent who themselves comes from a number of cultural backgrounds. I think this issue of perhaps multiple identities, needs to be explored more so people can feel proud and safe to say where they come from and who they are. The issue of dare i use the term' mixed races and how they are perceived or judged in society and how this can impact on a person's lifes chances. I would also like to see more investigation and education on the health impacts ( mental and physical) of racism in the community . Not just the usual stereotype interpretation of racism, ie name calling, bullying, bad jokes, violent expressions ( Cronolla riots), anti-muslim, black vs white ect. I would like to see the government invest in solid research to look at how racism impacts on society, impacts on mental health , physical health, security, environment, and finally the economy when the Government has to invest in fixing intead of prevention. I hope also that this strategy includes self reflection and admission of our racist history by the government. And finally we cannot talk about racism without talking about those more and less privaleged, the fair distribution of resources, transportation, housing rights ect..the toothless tiger of EEO policies. Thank you. Deevah Melendez Morales
oops sorry I had clicked on commenting on the governments anti raicsm strategy and ended up on this page!!
Hi Deevah, thanks for your comments, we have directed them to the NARPS team but there is a link above that will take you to their website.
The statistical data may or may not be correct. However, These statistics are pretty much reversed against "Anglo Saxons" in most of the suburbs where the ethnic population live. So overall it only shows that people mix with people that they feel some cultural connection to. It in no way proves or even suggests racial discrimination.
to late for me now but I would love to have an oppurtunity if I can join
I think the level of English ability and integration into Australian culture is apparent in a resume, and the name isn't as much of a factor as this statistic makes it seem. How many resumes have you seen with a photo and a date of birth?
What about people with Scottish or Irish names? Or have they just been lumped in with the 'Anglo Saxons'?
It is time for Australian businesses to train Australian workers rather than importing foreign workers. So many companies prefer to hire an experienced foreigner because it is cheaper than training an Australian. Just ask any young Australians in industries with a 'skills shortage' how difficult it can be to find a job. Obviously introducing incentives for companies to train Australians would incur a short term cost, but the benefits long term would be massive. Endless 'skilled migration' means our population increases which most Australians do not want, our cities are already too big and migrants generally end up living in Sydney or Melbourne rather than the 'boundless plains' our nation has. The capital cities end up with suburbs rolling out further and further whilst infrastructure fails to keep up with the limitless growth. Our country already has difficulties supplying water to cities during drought years, more and more prime farm land is build on reducing our ability to feed ourselves and getting anywhere on ancient road or public transport systems becomes more difficult. Few Australians want a 'big Australia' and the problems associated with it, yet somehow we get closer and closer to reaching it.
I reckon this blokes a fuckin' legend!!! Bang on bro!! ^^^^

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