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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Job applicants ‘whitewash’ resumes to obtain jobs

Job Application

Francis Emelogu/The Cougar

Although Equal Employment Opportunity laws and “colorblind” practices in the workplace are meant to protect potential job candidates and current employees from racial discrimination, minorities are still being discriminated against in the workforce.

While it is true the United States has made progress towards racial equality in the workplace, there is still work to be done, and it begins with recognizing that discrimination is still a problem that minorities face.

Communication senior Seidi Beltran said she thinks that job discrimination is still a modern problem.

“I’m not saying all employers do this, but it is very common,” Beltran said. “This has always been the case and seems to continue that way, unless the person hiring is a part of a minority themselves.”

According to the Atlantic, while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was created to enforce laws against discrimination, the commission is underfunded, understaffed and ineffective. It is difficult for employees to bring their cases to court, as the definition of discrimination has been narrowed down to include “only deliberate acts proven to have been motivated by discriminatory intent.”

In addition to EEOC laws, employers have adopted colorblind policies, which ask employers to ignore race completely in the workplace. In theory, by ignoring race, people are less susceptible to racial bias.

Management information system senior Paulo Pham said he thinks that ignoring race would make hiring fair and would make employers look for skill requirements.

However, the Association for Psychological Science reported that these practices do not work, as avoiding a discussion about race only gives off the perception of racial bias. A better alternative would be to practice multiculturalism, which calls for open discussion of racial differences.

“Acknowledging race or not shouldn’t matter,” Beltran said. “Employers should focus on skills and background checks. Yes, you never know who’s a criminal, but race? Race should be the least important factor when hiring anyone.”

It’s not only employers that try to downsize race by ignoring it. When searching for a job, some minorities feel the need to “whitewash” their resumes by ridding them of racial indicators. Featured in an article for the Huffington Post, Jose Zamora shared that while he was sending out between 50 to 100 resumes a day, he did not receive any callbacks until he dropped the “s” in his name and became Joe instead of Jose.

Even though more employers are utilizing digital applications, employers may still consciously or unconsciously discriminate against a potential candidate when noticing racial indicators in their resumes.

In addition to changing their names, the New York Times reported that African Americans choose to leave out certain information that pertains to race, such as attending a historically black college or being part of an African American organization.

“I find it pretty sad that minorities have to make such changes (to their resume) to get a job,” Beltran said. “If they are skilled and educated for the job, there should be no need for this.”

Kenji Yoshino, a law professor at New York University, wrote about the practice of minorities having to cover up their identities on their resumes in his book “Covering: the Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights.” Yoshino explained that the change in hiring processes is that “the line originally was between whites and nonwhite, favoring whites; now it’s (favoring) whites and nonwhites who are willing to act white.”

Minorities should not have to cover up their identity in order to be taken seriously for the position they are applying for. Attempts at colorblind policies are not working.

Race is easily noticeable whether one sees the other person face-to-face or looks at their name. Rather than trying to turn a blind eye to a job candidate’s identity, employers need to acknowledge race and focus instead on the skills and experience that applicant could bring to the workplace.

To remedy continued job discrimination against minorities, the Atlantic suggests applying pressure on employers who engage in discrimination through the use of social media and the principle of government transparency.

Employers may not intentionally discriminate, so it may be difficult to identify cases of racial discrimination; however, there needs to be a system in place to hold employers accountable. If a workplace has significant under-representation in either its management or employees overall, then it is important for the EEOC to investigate why that is and evaluate that employer’s hiring methods.

Opinion columnist Rama Yousef is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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