This is Black History Month on the calendar, yet I like to think of this as “Diversity and Inclusion Month.” Because it is the “…content of character…” that is most relevant today, and not by name or label, or change of ethnic name, but by character.
Diversity and inclusion is a fight that is as real as the “Thrilla in Manila.” In the “land of the free…” more than a few Americans are still slave to indifference to ethnic names. There are employers that respond indifferently to non-traditional names, and still slight candidates as a result.
I have addressed this before,
I have a diverse set of clients in the past three years who came to me because their strategies were not working. Out of the changes we made to their resume and interview style, we used two simple strategies to apply for jobs and on his or her resume:
- Modify the name on the resume (ex. from “Latoya” to “Lynn”, “Miguel” to “Michael”)
- Remove the address and zip (area can determine culture or color)
- Remove social, political, or service organizations that traditionally are one race
- Any cultural identifiable associations with sports (once remove a client’s college tournament “Sweet 16” appearance)
Race Matters in Hiring, No Matter How Nice The Cheshire Cat Grins, posted December 5.
Discrimination is still an issue, if not for color, gender, religion, body weight, affiliation, or stereotype, you have been a victim of profiling of some kind. If diversity isn’t enough, the real challenge is with inclusion.
In an article from Time magazine in 1960, Miriam Makeba, a world-renowned African singer was asked to give her real and full name.
Zenzile Makeba Qgwashu Nguvama Yiketheli Nxgowa Bantana Balomzi Xa Ufun Ubajabulisa Ubaphekcli Mbiza Yotshwala Sithi Xa Saku Qgiba Ukutja Sithathe Izitsha Sizi Kkabe Singama Lawu Singama Qgwashu Singama Nqamla Nqgithi.
Originally printed February 29, 1960, Time Magazine
That is 189 characters, and thirty names.
Can you imagine announcing her at the beginning of a concert performance? If you were an employer, would you disqualify this person based on her name?
Now back to changing ethnic names. After five years, people reject Barack Obama’s citizenship based on name despite his the proof of his authentic Birth Certificate. It’s a shame. After four years, there are people who are convinced that his birth certificate is a lie because of his name.
Here are some take-a-ways that I hope everyone remembers:
1. Your name does not brand you
Regardless of your name accomplishments, contributions, and solutions brand you. If changing your name will help, then change it.
2. Take pride in your name, and take greater pride in what you offer
The more you understand the value of what you fix, the better you can position your career to employers. It’s not a quadratic formula, it’s addition and subtraction. It is just getting complicated by the order of operation.
3. Don’t be afraid to modify, adjust, and re-position how you appear to employers
Although not everyone has to change, but if you want to change your name or brand, is to take control of your online presence. I have several suggestions:
- I have a friend who successfully change her ethnic first name and use her second name, also used in her online profiles and family. I suggest Google Plus as a way for job seekers to get their name out in the Googlesphere to be found by recruiters and potential employers. Google Plus content on profiles index are expedited, and can crush your competition if prominent enough.
- Network with your new name and brand as if it has always been. Remain consistent in all communication, and let others know how to find you, and what you offer. Even when you re-label skills, it should be clear that the function is the same but the name is different.
- There’s nothing with changing your Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In accounts too. Tell your family and friends ahead of time why you are changing your name. It will make sense to them if you tell them the story.
Do you have a story of ethnic challenges? Please share of how you have overcome, or still dealing with race and diversity. What obstacles did you leap over to get hired?