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Non-Muslim name secures job interview

17th Jul 2015

Trisha Vekaria

A teacher has accused an East London school of discrimination after he says he was only offered a job interview after changing his Muslim name to an Anglo one.

When applying for the second time to an RE position at Langdon Academy, Hamid Mahmood changed his name to Harry Mason on his CV wandering if his “race or religion had anything to do with the constant rejections”.

Mahmood, being unsuccessful with a previous application to the same school in 2014, applied for the exact same role in 2015 with a different ethnicity. The successful response proved his “fears of discrimination were true”.

A spokesperson for Langdon Academy rejected Mahmood’s allegations insisting they have “a proud record of equal opportunities recruitment….“During 2014-15 we recruited more staff of Islamic faith than any other religious domination, including both new appointments to our Senior Leadership Team. The head of our Religious Education is also an Asian Muslim.”

However, Mahmood says, “before I applied last year, I called them up and they seemed very positive about the application, but then when I applied I didn’t hear back. I’m also sure that nobody else was hired because they re-advertised the job a month later in April. So, when the same position came up this year in May, I decided to apply again but this time I changed my name to Harry Mason and took out any reference to Islam.”

Mahmood changed his name and removed a reference to the Institute of Islamic Education in his application for the teaching post, but made no other changes to the CV he had applied with from the previous year. Despite having a first class Master’s degree and a distinction in his teaching qualification, he said he had been turned down from thirty teaching posts in the last year. He states “at the end of the day, it looks like my degree didn’t matter because it was really based on ethnicity and faith and this is something I am really saddened by.”

However, the school’s official statement states “These two, apparently different, candidates have never applied for a post in the same recruitment round.”
“Clearly, there are a number of variables that influence which candidates are shortlisted and which are not. Principally, and obviously, one of these is the quality of other applications received.”

Countless studies have supported Mahmood allegation of name-based discrimination in employment application processes.

In 2010, Claire Adida from the University of California, San Diego sent three fictitious resumes to employers in France with the same qualifications and experiences, only the names and small details about their background was different.

She found “Aurélie Ménard” and “Marie Diouf”, the names being typically French and Christian, received more positive responses than “Khadija Diouf”, a name strongly suggesting a Muslim background. For every 100 callbacks “Marie” received, “Khadija” received 38 callbacks. Her research showed that a Muslim candidate is 2.5 times less likely to get a job interview than a Christian or non-religious candidate in the French labour market, particularly in the Senegalese community.

More recently, in June 2014 University of Connecticut professor Michael Wallace led sociological studies where researchers sent 3200 resumes in South Connecticut. He found that CV’s with religious mentions received 29% fewer email responses and 33% fewer phone calls than identical CVs with no religious references. Muslims received the most discrimination with 38% fewer emails and 54% fewer phone calls.

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