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José Becomes Joe: Does Hiring Discrimination Still Exist?

Jose Zamora sparked a discussion about whether hiring discrimination still exists when he changed his name to "Joe" on his resume.
Posted at 1:09 PM, Sep 04, 2014

Here's what happened when one job-hunting man decided to Anglicize his name on his resume — from José to Joe.

JOSÉ ZAMORA VIA BUZZFEED: "That's when all the responses started to come in. ... I was applying for the exact same jobs, the exact same resume, the exact same experience. Just a different name."

José Zamora says he was sending out as many as 100 applications a day for months with no responses whatsoever. That's when he got the idea to drop the S in José. And — well — you heard what he told BuzzFeed happened after that: He got job offers. Now, his idea is not completely new.

Study after study has suggested as much: that those with white-sounding names get more callbacks than ethnic-sounding ones.

Though to date, much of that conversation has focused on challenges faced by applicants with so-called "black names."

"FREAKONOMICS: THE MOVIE": "Malik, Jayquan, Nayshan, Naheem, Tasha, Shamika, Shaniquas, the Nayquans and the Kayshauns."

A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found white-sounding names like Emily and Greg got 50 percent more callbacks.

Now, of course, a callback isn't a job offer, and we haven't been able to find studies that looked at who actually got the job. And we should add the studies we and most other media outlets just referenced are more than 10 years old. But critics say the findings — and Zamora's experience — show racial discrimination in hiring is still a problem.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent reports put white unemployment in America at 4.7 percent for men over 20 years old and black unemployment for the same group at 10.1 percent. For Hispanics, that number is 6.5 percent.

To assign a single reason for that — such as name — would obviously be a gross oversimplification. And as Pew has noted, by the way, sociologists and economists haven't landed on a consensus to explain the disparity. Zamora, for his part, has said his goal is to start a conversation about conscious — and subconscious — racial discrimination in hiring.