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Finnish official says Russian name thwarts jobseeking

Finland’s top anti-racism official said Friday that public job applications should done anonymously, to prevent discrimination based on a foreign-sounding name.

Ombudsman for Minorities Eva Biaudet recommended that an experiment should be launched in public sector jobs, saying, “This kind of trial could open the way for face-to-face meetings with prospective employers.”

“Finland does not have the luxury of letting immigrants’ skills slip through their hands because of prejudice and ignorance,” she added.

Biaudet’s agency published a report that mainly addressed discrimination against ethnic Russians in Finland, which she says is especially prevalent in job application situations.

According to Statistics Finland, there are more than 50,000 Russians living in Finland.

The ombudsman’s report says Russian immigrants are notable for their high level of education compared to other ethnic groups in Finland, but that long-held stereotypes against Finland’s eastern neighbour hamper their integration into the job market.

One Russian woman polled by the ombudsman’s office said that it was much easier to get a job when she began using her Finnish husband’s last name.

“Many people felt that they were never invited to a job interview because of their Russian name. This is why we have to investigate the possibility of anonymous job applications in order to decrease discrimination,” the report said.

Biaudet said that prejudice is causing employers to overlook the advantages of the Russian language skills and other talents learned abroad that a Russian employee could bring to the company.