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Help! I Can't Get a Job With My Name!

Updated: Jan 11

Name-Based Discrimination in the Workplace


By: Megan Sanchez

Name-based discrimination
Why Your Name Matters When Getting Hired
I entered the empty building in what seemed to be a ghost company....
Until a smiling lady came up to me and told me to sign up and wait for my next interview turn.

Her overly wide smile seemed inauthentic and forced... But it was just a feeling I had no idea my gut would be right about.


But I'll get to that later.


I'm called immediately to walk in to meet a young CEO with greyish hair, good posture, wearing what looked to be designer Italian fashion.


Before being asked anything, I am given a synopsis of how the firm runs and what roles the HR team is looking to hire.


But when my turn to speak comes up, I'm asked the golden ticket question that is always asked of me, especially in Italy, while job interviewing:


"Where are you from?"

The cringe settles in, as it always does, for, even though I possess a foreign name, I was born in Italy from an Italian mother.


I possess Italian citizenship and when people ask me where I am from, while abroad, I'm pretty much forced to answer: "Italy."


But they don't know.

The people abroad don't know that my "own people" (Italians) have never accepted me as "one of them".


It is for this reason, that I am "unable" to feel a sense of rootedness with this country.


My love for this beautiful country is strong, but I still do not feel "part of it".


I tilt my head to the left as I answer the interviewer, "I'm from Perugia" (city in Italy), how so (how come is the question being brought up?)"

He cannot see the grin under my mask, as I freeze my upper facial expressions.


He stutters.


"Oh, but, but..." he vaguely gestures towards an empty table, and I understand he is referring to my foreign name.


I nod, my head in agreement, as I suggest,


"Oh of course, you saw the name in the CV, so naturally, you were curious to know..."


I sense some panic in his voice, as he gives his all to demonstrate how his firm has very effective "anti-racism" and "anti-discrimination" regulations.

I nod and wait, expecting more questions related to the skills needed to fulfill the roles of the given field.


He barely asks any.


I'm only asked if I have any sales experience, to which I answer that I do.


After barely sitting in the room for about 10 minutes, the interviewer lets me know that the selection process consists of 2 rounds.


He asks me to email him links related to my works and that I should receive a reply back almost immediately if I am called back for round 2.

I thank him for his time and assure him I will promptly send out the material.


I highlight how I am appreciative of our first interview, as I wave while exiting the door.


As I step out and walk towards the paper to sign for my "sign out" process, the smiling lady comes back and speaks at a high enough volume for me to hear, exclaiming:


"Oh, so not even 10 minutes in the interview process, and you've already eliminated her?"

She giggles, amused by the idea.


I swiftly turn my head towards them, gesturing with my body that I heard each and every word that she said.


The interviewer/CEO looks embarrassed and flustered, but shrugs the statement off, and storms away towards another direction.


I'm left feeling kind of spiritually naked.

As I walked back towards my car, my mind kept going back to my master's degree program, when two Italian ladies mockingly called me a "mixed breed" to my face because my Italian accent is mixed.


I am ethnically mixed, indeed. I have Hispanic and Slavic blood from my father's side, while he is American.


My accent is also indeed mixed. I grew up internationally my whole life.

I've been connected to Italy very little during my youth.


But just because my accent is mixed and I am different, it still should not give CEOs the audacity to think they can get away with dehumanising me - or anyone else - for being different.


My head kept telling me, "the only thing that connects you here is that piece of paper that gives you citizenship".


But then I shook it off and scolded myself for even thinking that.


Despite my mixed nature, I speak fluent Italian in addition to another 4 languages which are always duly noted in my CV...


My mind continues to race towards thoughts regarding every person that has ever been labeled an "other".

I am not black, nor would I ever claim to fully comprehend that type of pain and discrimination, but I do know that I grieved when George Floyd was slaughtered, for the world to witness, by the hands of American police.


The grief I experience when any other human being experiences discrimination of any sort, is very real.


I connect to the pain of being rejected due to an outside force.


From an outside force - like language, ethnicity, accent, name, and in George's case, only his melanated skin color.


The feelings that "others" feel are similar - even if the types of discriminations we face are diverse.

The feelings are "rejection, not belonging, dehumanisation, feeling invisible, and worthlessness".


These are in short, the feelings that a human experiences every time we are "Othered".


In the end, I never got a reply back to my email with my work links. I never got called back for round 2.

I ended up writing to the CEO, asking politely, if he had received my emails at all since I never received a reply nor an update as per my stance regarding the interview.


Again, no reply.

How much longer must people label one another and pit people against one another before we realise that the human species is just "one" and that we are all a part of it?


How much longer must people suffer from unemployment because our skills are completely disregarded while attention is focused on our "otherness"?


How many more blacks must be slaughtered before they gain equal and just privilege as their white brothers and sisters?


How many more women in tech and finance must be shrugged off without any explanation because we are not "the right gender" for such a competitive and ambitious job position?


How many "socially different" peoples must be rejected in any job position because "they reflect a company" and a company doesn't want to be associated with "them"?


The Western World decided to solve these problems through D.E.I (diversity, equity and inclusion) but I testify that it has failed miserably as a global intiative to include "diverse groups of others" within society.

We have seen D.E.I crumble in the waking of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, after the October 7th 2023 massacre, that gave rise to many controversies all around the world - such as the firing of ex-President of Harvard, Claudine Gay.


If we forcibly vote people up to power solely because they are a minority group, this means we are hiring people who have not proven they have either merit nor the skills for the job.


It means we are creating not only more intense workplace discrimination, but it ultimately also means we may be excluding the most productive members of society - especially if the talent is white.


Systemic racism is very real, but so is reactive individual racism.


What does this mean?


It means that our melanated brothers and sisters absolutely have been oppressed by white society for hundreds of years.


But the systemic solution of D.E.I - to favor minority groups - has given rise to "reverse racism" where nowadays "the white oppressor" has become "the white oppressed."


These things need to be said. They are difficult to hear but they are true.

Likewise, I can testify that as a white Hispanic-named woman trying to make it in the business world, I do go through gender-based discrimination.


However - and this is crucial - if we create forced regulations where women are favored in the workplace as opposed to men (solely based on gender preference) then we are creating a system built on inequality, inequity and favoritisms.


We cannot expect skin-color based racism, gender-based discrimination, name-based or ethnicity-based discrimination to "disappear" by favoring "the oppressed".


We need to realise that systemic oppression is the fruit of individual oppression.


This puts the responsibility in your hands as an individual.


Which leaves us to the last essential question:


If you want to fix this problem, are you willing to put away your racist mindset and hire according to real skills?

I am just asking you the questions. Your answer and your action will shape the future.


"Answer all the questions. Question all the answers ".
- Laurie Gray

 

Megan Sanchez is founder of EVMO News (2017), founder of EVMO Fashion (2020) and founder of Mega Wins With Megan Marketing (2021).


She graduated summa cum laude in International Relations (2017), and holds 2 Masters in Marketing and Innovation.


She is a 47x published author and multilingual speaker of 5 languages. In 2018, Megan published the first volume to her Multilingual Poetry book series, written in modern Greek, Italian, Russian, English, and French.


She is the head journalist of EVMO News, and editor-in-chief of EVMO News articles.


She runs the EVMO E-Commerce Shop, designs its fashion merchandise, and has extensive experience in marketing, sales and advertsing.


Since 2021, Megan has continued to develop Mega Wins With Megan Marketing in parallel with EVMO News x EVMO Fashion, and has launched e-book courses on Facebook ads, Instagram Growth, Dropshipping, Branding and How to Launch Your Own Design Label.


In 2023, Megan got her 4th Generative AI Practitioner certificate and launched the "Ethical AI Workshop" as a part of the EVMO Premium Educational Programs initiative.




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