Waleed Aly won the Gold Logie last week. He is definitely one of my favourite TV personalities – I appreciate his cut-through, intellectual, smattered-with-humour style on hot topics.
When he won the award, his speech was acclaimed across the media. He told a disappointing story of a guy who changed his name from his middle-eastern sounding name to a western sounding name, because he said he couldn’t get a job in the industry otherwise.
Interestingly a few weeks before the Logies, I had heard suggestions we should now start having NAMELESS resumes (in addition to not putting your date of birth, gender, marital status etc), to avoid people discriminating against people with a “foreign” last name.
I have to admit, these fears have crossed my mind, now that I too have a “foreign” last name (even though I have a “non-foreign” firstname). But the thought has crossed my mind – what will I call my children if I have any – should I give them an Indian name and an Australian name, and they can choose which one to use depending on where they are applying for jobs?
When you think about it, it’s pretty sad to have to think like that. It’s sad that Waleed’s mate changed his name because he had these thoughts too.
But I’m also not convinced nameless resumes will change discrimination. Whilst it might mean people’s resumes get read, rather than culled, you still have to call the person to book an interview – and presumably get their name (unless we go the extremes and start addressing candidates as sir/madam until they sign the contract). But even in the interview, you can’t prevent people subtly discriminating in other ways, such as against skin colour or gender. If it’s obvious discrimination, of course there is a huge uproar and the company can be liable for prosecution – but more often than not it is very hard to prove.
The issue is a nameless resume doesn’t address the source of the problem. People’s attitudes, values and stereotypes are the issue – and unfortunately “fixing” them is a lot more complicated.
But as Waleed said, hopefully his winning is a sign that things are changing; that people with “unpronounceable” names will not be discriminated against. One step at a time, as they say 🙂