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What’s in a name?

By February 7, 2019No Comments

That which we call a rose, would by any other name smell as sweet… Unless the rose in question is a human, and the name you’re considering is ridiculous, in which case the Department of Internal Affairs says no. All names were most certainly not created equal and there is a line to be drawn when naming your child. (Thankfully – imagine if the poor sod whose parents tried to name him Anal actually went through life named Anal?)

En route to work today, as is typical of every third Friday, I was plagued by indecision as to what to blog about. “I don’t have anything left to say,” I grumped. Wholly aware of my feminist resolve and fiery nature, my wind-up merchant better half innocently suggested I Google woman refused a job. “Go on, babe. Bet you get heaps from that.”

Well, well, well. What treats Google had in store. Not wanting to be outdone by the piss-taker beside me, I diligently tapped in the search bar as suggested and up rolled numerous headlines about Women Denied Job For ‘Ghetto’ NameI dutifully clicked through and read all about the plights of poor Hermeisha, Dornisha and Militina whose recent job applications were responded to with an email that read, in part, “Thank you for your interest in careers at Mantality Health. Unfortunately, we do not consider candidates that have a suggestive ghetto name. We wish you the best in your career search. Regards.”

Mantality Health’s clinic director Jack Gamache reckons the company’s account was hacked, with police looking into the possibility the emails were sent by a disgruntled employee, but it got me thinking. There’s been a fair bit of kerfuffle on LinkedIn recently about names, with some claiming discrimination, saying they changed their name on their CV following a series of unsuccessful job applications, and with a “whiter-sounding” name suddenly receiving a bunch of calls where previously there’d been crickets. Research conducted in 2016 backs this up. I’m relieved to say the complainants I saw were all based in the UK and Australia, but I have no doubt similar shit goes down in New Zealand. (And I hate it, FYI.)

So, what’s in a name? Recruiters are notorious for making snap decisions based on the first page of a CV – how big an impact does the name alone have? And how bloody grateful are we for the Department of Internal Affairs?! The list of banned baby names from 2018 reads more like a collection of dog names, featuring Duke, Gunner, Rogue, Sire, Prinz, Majestee-Honours, Justus, and Princess-Dixie-Rose – but my favourite of all time has to be Sex Fruit.

You’d HAVE to call Sex Fruit for a telephone screen. Surely.

Natasha Foster

Recruitment Consultant at New Zealand firm Rice Consulting, shaking things up in the HR world. Photographer on the side, Te Reo student, rock climber and learner surfer. Most happy off the grid.