RATTAN’S RUMBLE: Discrimination against South Asians and Chinese? So WHAT’S NEW, eh!?

THE Insights West survey in which more than four-in-five Chinese and South Asian respondents say they have faced some form of discrimination as a result of their ethnicity shouldn’t come as a surprise to The VOICE readers.

It is something that I have been consistently exposing left, right and centre since the 1990s, earning a lot of enemies. But do I give a damn!

The survey, among other things, stated that 28% of Chinese and South Asian British Columbians say they have “frequently” or “sometimes” lost a potential employment opportunity because of their ethnicity, while 24% claim to have been treated unfairly in the workplace.

Well, I have been exposing this racist job discrimination by white guys since the 1990s.

Just a few years ago, University of British Columbia economics professor Paul Oreopoulos sent out 6,699 fake resumes to Toronto-area companies and found that even when the applicants had the same Canadian work experiences and educational backgrounds, those with English names were MORE LIKELY to get a call from the employers: 16 calls per 100 resumes for English names as compared to 11 calls for South Asian and Chinese names – a 40-percent advantage for English names.

The Toronto experiment found the following percentage received callbacks from employers there: people with English names – 15.8; people with Indian names – 12.1; people with Pakistani names – 11; people with Chinese names – 10.8.

In the early 1990s, some anti-racist groups sent resumes to various companies run by white guys. In each case, they sent resumes with the same qualifications but found that those with white sounding names were the ones who were called for the initial interviews or those with the Canadian accent that would probably indicate the applicant was white were invited for the interview. When these companies were exposed in the Toronto media, guess what happened?

They just changed their tactics. In the late 1990s, when the anti-racist groups repeated their experiment, they found that the companies had put up front organizations to weed out non-whites before they handled any interview themselves. These front companies were also then caught practicing the same kind of discrimination.

In 2004, the Vancouver Sun carried a letter that related similar experiences in B.C.

Michelle Deshaw of Victoria wrote that in her previous job at a college in Vancouver, she had to find work for students. Many of those students were immigrants of Middle Eastern and Indo-Canadian descent.

She said that when she sent their resumes to employers who had posted jobs, students with the exact same training, but with Christian sounding names, were invariably the first to be selected for interviews.

She noted: “Many employers would never request an interview with the students whose names suggested they were NOT WHITE and CHRISTIAN. Frustrated with this, desperate students changed their names on their resumes to Christian ones – and what do you know? The phone began ringing off the hook to interview them.”

She added that she didn’t see many students with the last name of “Linden,” “Graham” or “Stewart” having any difficulty getting an interview and finding a job.

The same year, the Vancouver Sun carried a story based on a study by a Trinity-Western University student that he did for his master’s thesis. Mike Stolte found that if you were from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia or Africa, it would take you about two and a half months longer to find work than those from Canada, the U.S. and Western Europe.

He told the Sun that he was uncertain why this was happening though it could be because of factors such as unrecognized foreign credentials, language barriers and cultural differences. He added that “Racism is a part of it.” He said: “There are still people who are employers who don’t want to interview people who are not white.”

Stolte, who had six years of experience as a counsellor in job search programs in BC and Alberta, told the Sun that employers often disguised racism by saying they didn’t want people with accents, or asked for experience in Canada, or a Canadian education.