Discrimination in Norway: Different name, different opportunities

A new study shows you are 25 per cent less likely to get invited to a job interview if you have a foreign sounding name. The study has created a major buzz in Norway.

– Even those who have previously claimed that there is no discrimination in the employment market have accepted the results, Jon Rogstad reveals. The researcher has worked with this study for several years and is enthused to share the findings with UNHCR over the phone.

The study is the first of its kind in Norway. Some 1,800 fictional job applications were sent to job openings in different sectors and organizations in Oslo and the surrounding areas. In order to measure the level of discrimination in the job application process, two fictional applications with similar qualifications were submitted for each job advert. One of the applications had a foreign sounding Pakistani name, for example Saera Rashid or Kamran Ahmad, the other a Norwegian name.

Front page: Diskrimineringens omfang og årsaker – etniske minoriteters tilgang til norsk arbeidsliv. (The and reasons of discrimination – ethnic minorities’ access to Norwegian employment market).
The results therefore only refer to a group of immigrants that have been in the country for a long time and who could be second generation immigrants.

– The results are likely to have been even higher if, for example, applicants of Somali origin had been represented in the study, says Jon Rogstad.

What surprised the researchers was the higher level of discrimination in Oslo compared to surrounding areas.

– People in Oslo usually have had more interaction with foreigners, nevertheless discrimination is more common here, says Rogstad with astonishment in his voice. Discrimination was also found to be much more widespread in the private sector than the public sector.

As part of the study, in-depth interviews were made with the recruiting companies. The results show that employers often are uncertain and base decisions on stereotypes.

– Interestingly, organizations do not see themselves as part of a system that discriminates. They base their decisions on a stereotypical idea of who would have the most suitable personality traits for the organization. Some employers make the assessment that applicants of minority background simply will not “fit” into organization as well as native Norwegians, Rogstad argues.

Similarly, the study found that women were less discriminated against than men.

– It seems that women are perceived as being more educated and passive while men are perceived as more aggressive, Jon Rogstad speculates.

Comparable studies have been conducted in other countries, for example Sweden. The Swedish study showed that there was extensive discrimination in the Swedish labour market. An applicant with an Arabic or African sounding name had to apply for approximately twice as many jobs to be contacted for an interview compared to someone with a Swedish sounding name.

Even if Norway is not the only country in Europe with these kinds of problem, this does not mean nothing needs to be done.

– Now the question that remains is: Where do we go from here? concludes Jon Rogstad, researcher at the Norwegian independent research foundation Fafo.

The original title of the study is: “Diskrimineringens omfang og årsaker – Etniske minoriteters tilgang til norsk arbeidsliv”.

<The study was published by the Institute of Social Research and the research foundation Fafo and can be found here.
<A similar study in Sweden made in 2007 by the Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies can be found here.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, works to promote so called ‘durable solutions’, solutions that allow refugees to rebuild their lives in dignity and peace, in a host country or in their home country. Local integration is one of these durable solutions.

Edited by V.I. source:UNHCRs regionkontor for de baltiske og nordiske landene