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Scots Asian: I had to fake being white to get a job

ALLEGATIONS of racial discrimination hang over Scotland's local authorities and public services.

But the problem of racial inequality when it comes to employment is also to be found in the private sector. Here, Matty Sutton speaks to one young Asian man whose suspicions of discrimination led him to put a private company to the test.

REHMAN Mehmood knew he was overqualified when he sent in an application for a regular office job in Glasgow. An accounting graduate with a Masters in International Management and Leadership, as well as experience working at a top department store, he could tick all the boxes in the job spec.

It seemed like a dead cert. So, when after a short time his application came back with a rejection, he was taken aback.

A creeping doubt gathered in his mind and Mehmood, 23, who now works for a leading banking firm, decided to try something.

Changing only his address and his contact details, he resubmitted an identical application, but with one key difference - this time, his name was distinctly white: John Hargrave.

Just a couple of days later, he received a phone call from the company asking to set up a telephone interview.

Rehman said: "I was quite angry at the time so I called them back and I said, 'What's the situation? Why did this happen?' After about half an hour of them looking through the application their excuse was I had put in a different time that I was available to work, which wasn't the case.

"Both applications were identical so they just fobbed me off with an excuse."

Convinced he was the victim of racial discrimination, Mehmood sought legal advice from a few high street solicitors.

Their response was that they didn't cover employment law, so Rehman concluded there was no help available and no point challenging it.

"It made me think, 'this is pointless'," he said. "Why did I go to the trouble of getting my education and trying to build myself up to somewhere I can build a career from? It felt hopeless to me."

Born in Glasgow, Mehmood is of Pakistani descent and fears incidents of discrimination in all areas of life are building barriers and breeding resentment within the Pakistani community. Anecdotally, he believes his peers have also experienced racism when pursuing careers.

"It builds barriers and it does build quite a lot of anger and then there is division as well. People feel discriminated against and like they are not given a fair chance.

"I was angry because I have spent time building up experience, I have spent money on my education, and to be honest I am quite an educated person and in terms of my work experience, it is quite varied, so I was thinking 'why would you do that?'. It is frustrating."

Contextual targeting label: 
Careers and Jobs

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