The group of strangers all agreed that assumptions have been made about them based on their names – with half saying they have had their name mispronounced
Watch as six employed adults are asked questions about their names – and how they have impacted them in the workplace.
The social experiment, dubbed “The Fine Line”, saw the group of strangers asked about whether they have been called by a different name at work, whether it has been mispronounced, and whether they feel their name has held them back.
And while all six agreed that they have had assumptions made about them based on their name – they also unanimously said that they would not want to change their name.
It comes as a survey of 2,000 adults based in the UK revealed that almost one in three feel as though they have been judged based on their name alone.
And this rises to 53% of ethnic minorities – with 48% of those who are not white, claiming they have felt as if they were treated differently, based on their name.
When it comes to situations in which they feel their name has been a disadvantage to them, 17% said job interviews, while 14% claim to have experienced prejudice or bias in social setting, when making friends or joining clubs.
The research, as well as the experiment, were commissioned by Samsung – and also found that 14% have felt uncomfortable at work, after having questions asked about their name.
Professor Pragya Agarwal, a behavioural and data scientist, visiting professor of social inequities and injustice at Loughborough University, and author of “SWAY: Unravelling Unconscious Bias”, said: “Names, much like our gender or racial identity, can be first triggers for stereotypes and assumptions about people, sending signals about who we are and where we come from.
“It is laziness, yes, but people very easily fall back on these assumptions. In my research and consultancy, I have seen how name discrimination is very widely spread during hiring and recruitment, through to career progression and leadership opportunities in the workplace.
“Such discrimination is often rooted in our implicit cognitive biases – but that does not mean that the impact is any less harmful.
“For many of us, names signify our cultural heritage, our histories, and our family values. It is important that organisations and workplaces do more to see people as individuals, and names are an integral part of people’s identity.
“Addressing name-based microaggressions, and its intersectional impacts, is an important step towards creating a culture of belonging and respect for everyone.”
The study also found that, when making a new acquaintance, 26% of those in ethnic minorities have been asked to repeat their name multiple times – and 16% have even been asked if it’s their “real” or “full” name.
Among the most frequent misconceptions made about the names of those in ethnic minorities are where they are from (39%), and their cultural heritage (31%) – as well as a false assumption that English isn’t their first language (27%).
It also emerged 24% of all respondents have witnessed others on the receiving end of discrimination in the workplace, because of their name. As such, more than one in 10 (12%) of those who are not white have felt the need to use different names in job applications or interviews.
To address this, more than a fifth (22%) believe promotion of correct name pronunciation, and understanding of cultural significance, will help to reduce name bias in the workplace.
And 19% would even like to see anonymous job applications, where names are removed from CVs to help alleviate prejudice, according to the data, conducted via OnePoll.
Jessie Soohyun Park, a spokeswoman for Samsung UK, said: “Embracing cultural difference, and the value that different perspectives can bring, is intrinsic to building a positive, inclusive society, that ultimately brings people together.
“I believe that names are not just labels to identify us, but important emblems that carry stories of heritage and identity. Let’s build a culture where no-one feels judged or silenced by the syllables that shape their identity.”