'Significant' name and accent discrimination by NZ employers

Kiwi employers still let racial prejudices affect their decisions when hiring staff.
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Kiwi employers still let racial prejudices affect their decisions when hiring staff.

New Zealand employers display "significant" name and accent discrimination, a leading researcher says.

Massey University distinguished professor Paul Spoonley​ told the BBC that the discrimination can be tied to assumptions around ethnicity.

"We have surveyed employers, many of whom feel that immigrants, especially from Asia, do not understand New Zealand and local cultural practices," he told the BBC.

"They are particularly concerned with English language proficiency."

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Auckland-based business lecturer Terence King, who was born with the name Wang Lai Ming, was overlooked for several jobs in New Zealand because of his Chinese name, the BBC reported.

King emigrated to New Zealand from Singapore in 2000 and had a master's degree in business management from a university in the United Kingdom.

He told the BBC he would send out about five job applications a week when he came to New Zealand, but failed to get called for interviews.

After changing his birth name, King said things became different for him.

"I'm confident there will always be a job for me somewhere with my English name and qualifications to match," he said to the BBC.

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Discrimination against race and ethnic or national origin is prohibited under New Zealand human rights law.

There are also processes under employment law for monitoring and reporting racial discrimination in the workplace.

According to data from Statistics NZ, which was collected between 2008 and 2010, an estimated 77,700 people said they experienced racial discrimination in employment situations.

Maori, Pacific and Asian people were more likely to report experiencing racial discrimination in the workplace than Europeans.

Migrants were more likely to experience racial discrimination in the workplace than non-migrants.

The Statistics NZ data showed people who identified as Asian reported the highest levels of racial discrimination in any setting.

 - Stuff

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