Swedish recruiters reject Arabic names

Job seekers with Arabic names face widespread discrimination by Swedish employers. According to a study by researchers at the University of Kalmar, more than one in four employers would prefer to employ someone with a Swedish name.

While discrimination in Sweden has been the subject of much debate in recent years, this is the first time that academics have attempted to measure its propensity.

Researchers sent applications to over 1,600 vacant jobs between May 2005 and Februari 2006. For every vacancy, two applications were submitted – one with a Swedish name and one with an Arabic name. The qualifications were identical in both applications.

In 527 cases at least one of the applicants was called to interview. But in almost 30 percent of those cases, only the applicant with the Swedish name was invited to interview.

Dan-Olof Ruth, who carried out the research, said that the results indicated that discrimination in Sweden is nevertheless not as bad as many believe it to be.

“It is well established that discrimination exists, but there is no support for the idea that the whole of society is riddled with racism, as was claimed in the government inquiry ‘Integration’s black book’,” Ruth told Dagens Nyheter.

“Our results indicate that 70 percent of employers don’t actually discriminate.”

The most discriminatory employers were those who already employed many people with foreign backgrounds. After interviewing many employers, the researchers identified the characteristics of those most likely to reject applicants with non-Swedish names.

“They have workplaces where a large number of the employees are men, low staff turnover and fewer than 100 employees,” Dan-Olof Ruth told DN.

“Typically, men are responsible for recruitment, and women are also discriminated against.”