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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.

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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.

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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.


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