Racism in Employment/Recruitment

It’s that time of the year when all the soon-to-be graduates are attending assessment centers and interviews hoping to make a good impression and land a decent job. So it’s natural that in a city as diverse as London, the issue of racism will pop its head. I know a number of people who are attending interviews and assessment centers, people from ethnic backgrounds, who complain that there’s rampant racism in the corporate recruitment process. The kind of companies that hold assessment centers are large multinational type corporations, so race and religion shouldn’t be a factor. Yet, they claim it is. I’m sceptical. One claimed that although the company operates in so many countries across x cultures and has such revenues, it likes to recruit from a particular city, and from a particular university even though it has a lower rank and isn’t as well recognized as ours.

What’s the reason? I’d like to suggest that it’s due to a ‘clash of cultures’, rather than racial prejudice. Similar to the connections Levitt makes with employment and names, it’s not that someone considers people of certain ethnic backgrounds necessarily less technically capable, but perhaps less able to adapt and integrate within that company. Every company has established practice and its own social dynamics. If they see someone who’s muslims and has a beard or asks to go pray in the middle of lunch, they’re less likely to bond with him. It’s social misalignment. It is necessary for people to adopt a generic approach and if not conceal, make their differences less pronounced and attempt to integrate. If they don’t and even if they were employed, there would be a social gap between their coworkers and themselves. It is important to fit in and integrate, rather than simply label rejection as racism.

I know interviewers who will not hire people who are more attractive than them or smarter than them or… oh when will the prejudice end :unamused:

Regarding things like particular universities, there will probably be some personal connection in management/HR, and they’re confident that they can get (say) the best people from a redbrick uni rather than taking their chances on Oxbridge.

Ultimately, it’s all down to people. Each and every case it’s a person choosing, and some of them will be prejudiced against all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. But most managers in educated professions are well-educated themselves, and tend to have a clearer idea of which attributes matter. For some jobs, they will be looking for someone who fits in the team, and social considerations will be important. Culture is also a relevant factor in how people respond to authority and to what extent someone has been raised to think flexibly or learn large amounts of facts.

I’ve never had so many applications for a job that I’ve not had the time to consider each on its merits. My wife, on the other hand, once had over 200 applications for one junior position; even at five minutes consideration and rejection per CV, that’s over two full working days on top of everything else to do. So first it was cut down to 20 or so with broad rules of thumb - for example, if the cover letter didn’t say why you wanted to work for that company specifically, you didn’t get a look in. And big companies with graduate training schemes are very heavily subscribed, you need to have the luck to pass all the filters and still stand out. Race/nationality was not one, but the ‘rules’ were ultimately very culture-specific. Good luck!

I would think that managers are well educated and well trained, but even though some of my fellow students are extremely educated and capable, many with industrial placements at x corporation, even they still find it difficult to find jobs. Now the jobs I’m referring to are those provided by huge companies, BP Shell Jaguar etc. The people that I’m referring to don’t get rejected at the CV stage, but after the assessment centers. So I just have to think why. If I were to look at it from their perspective, assuming that they are technically capable enough to get to that stage, I would say it’s the cultural difference. Race just gets thrown around alot and I think it’s less of a factor in a performance driven world.

I never hired for a profession, Mags, but I always tried to hire people more attractive than me (easy) and smarter than me (not so easy). I have always been prejudiced, however - this is for the restaurant industry - I would always tell the boys - “If you don’t have breasts, you must be best”.