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A new study has found that job applicants with Asian names are less likely to receive a job interview compared to applicants with Anglo-Canadian names.

The joint study between the University of Toronto and Ryerson University looked at over 12,000 computer-generated resumes and samples that were submitted to 3,225 jobs in Toronto and Montreal between 2008 to 2009.

Two Anglo name options were used on the resumes (Greg Johnson and Emily Brown) and were compared with six Asian names representing different backgrounds, including Chinese (Lei Li and Xuiying Zhang), Indian (Samir Sharma and Tara Singh) and Pakistani (Ali Saeed and Hina Chaudhry).

When applicants with Asian names met Canadian qualifications for a position at a company with 500 or more employees, they were 20 per cent less likely to receive a call back than people with Anglo-Canadian names. When applicants had an Asian name and non-Canadian qualifications, they were 35 per cent more likely to not receive a call back.

The name discrimination was even more pronounced in smaller companies, with people who had Canadian qualifications and Asian names at a 40 per cent disadvantage. This increased to a 60 per cent disadvantage when the applicant had non-Canadian qualifications.

Considering that a huge chunk of Canadians in the private sector are working for medium and small companies with less than 100 employees, these results are especially troubling.

While a masters degree from a Canadian school helped decrease the name disadvantage in large organizations, the disadvantage at small organizations stayed the same.

The study was intended to look at whether large organizations treat racial minorities more fairly (and now we know they do), but co-author Jeffrey Reitz explained that there’s still a heavy bias no matter the size of the company. “Some people are concerned this is something we are doing to accommodate minorities, giving an advantage to minority people by deferring to them,” said Reitz. “But no matter what political correctness is doing, it is not offsetting the problems.”

With a new resume review system put into place, the authors behind the study believe improvements can be made.

Reitz and co-author Rupa Banerjee point to an example of blind recruitment used by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which began auditioning musicians behind a curtain in 1980. The orchestra now boasts an almost equal split between men and women and a more diverse makeup compared to its’ pre-blind audition period.

Since companies don’t have a completely blind application process yet, Banerjee explained that best way to reduce name discrimination is by educating and training managers. “A name matters because it draws on implicit response and activates stereotypes on what a job candidate would be when you only have less than seven seconds to look at a resumé,” said Banerjee. “People judge by the name they see.”