Race discrimination restricts access to leadership roles in Australia

Employers are showing bias and offering leadership positions to job applicants with English names over other ethnic minorities.
By: | May 12, 2023

Aspiring applicants for higher management and frontline leadership positions in Australia continue to face a higher degree of ethnic discrimination, which is limiting their upward mobility.

Applicants with English names are also receiving higher positive responses in comparison to those with non-English names when it comes to leadership roles, with 26.8% positive responses compared to 11.3% positive responses, according to a new study.

Written by Mladen Adamovic, Senior Lecturer, King’s College London; and Andreas Leibbrandt, Professor of Economics, Monash University, the Is there a glass ceiling for ethnic minorities to enter leadership positions? study is said to be the first resume to examine how Arabic, Chinese, English, and Indian names impact the application of leadership roles in two different occupations across Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

The authors also found that recruiters are more likely to perceive applicants with English names as potential leaders, while they are less likely to view ethnic minorities as prototypical leaders. When considering the high migration rates from Asia-Pacific countries to Australia, the findings show that high-quality and leadership positions are harder for migrants seeking high-skilled jobs.

READ: Ageism hinders employment opportunities in Australia

From the results, key suggestions from researchers included using anonymous job applications, experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) tools in recruitment, and training recruiters to reduce biasness in their headhunting.  This could help recruiters become aware of potential stereotypes. Organisations can also make the recruitment team more diverse by including ethnic minorities in the evaluation panel, said Adamovic and Leibbrandt.