Name-Based Discrimination and Resume Whitening: How Do Second-Generation Immigrants Understand and Navigate “Anticipated Discrimination” in the Canadian Labour Market?

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Awish ASLAM, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Robert NONOMURA, Western University, Canada
Research on name-based discrimination in the Canadian labour market shows that job applicants with “non-White”-sounding names tend to receive fewer responses from prospective employers when compared to those with “White”-sounding names. The phenomenon of name-based discrimination has largely been studied though audit studies, which help to capture the pervasiveness of racial discrimination in the hiring process. However, less is known about job applicants’ awareness of such discriminatory practices or about how applicants use their own knowledge of racial discrimination to navigate labour market inequalities. Additionally, of the literature that does exist, very little has been conducted on the experiences of racialized second-generation immigrants. This is quite surprising, given higher rates of “perceived discrimination” reported by racialized second-generation immigrants than either their first-generation or their non-racialized peers.

The present study explores the phenomenon of name-based discrimination (and racially discriminatory hiring processes more broadly) from the standpoint of young racialized second-generation immigrants themselves, as they make their transitions from school–work. Through the use of interviews, open-ended surveys, and focus groups with second-generation immigrants, this paper examines not only the attitudes of our participants toward name-based discrimination, but also the ways they come to know, understand, and navigate this phenomenon as social actors. Findings revealed a high level of awareness of name-based discrimination among these young people. Some participants engaged in “resume-whitening” tactics that are intended to circumvent anticipated discrimination, but they expressed varying levels of moral consternation about using these tactics. Participants also shared their views on the intersections of racial and gender discrimination, including the assumptions employers may have made about them. Overall, participants’ responses indicated a critical, reflexive, and agentic awareness to the challenges they faced, and a proactive orientation to navigating these phenomena.