Niran Iswar is a second-generation Kiwi, but due to his foreign sounding name on his CV he was forced to bypass recruiters and HR just to get a look in for a job interview.
Iswar, the NexGen Group founder and director, said that if you are living in New Zealand and have an Indian or an Asian name on your CV, “you’re up against a brick wall”.
Indeed, recent research by Randstad has revealed that less than one in two employees (46%) believe that NZ businesses have successfully developed a diverse and inclusive culture.
It also found that 53% of NZ workers stated that employers needed to provide clearer channels for communication and feedback in relation to addressing diversity and inclusion issues.
Indeed, diversity is a “competitive advantage” and corporate New Zealand is increasingly diverse, as are many of their decision makers, according to Iswar.
He added that he is proud of his name and doesn’t want to change it.
“However, if I could get potential employers to hear me speak, to hear my Kiwi accent, I was at least in with a chance.”
Even though the 90-day-trial period has helped close the diversity gap because it allowed many SME employers to overcome their anxiety around employing, for example, Chinese and Indian people, Iswar said there’s still a long way to go.
Iswar is urging companies in New Zealand to “steer clear of jumping to conclusions” about a potential employee’s abilities if they come from another country, and to instead embrace the potential benefits immigrants can offer.
“It’s time to stop using ‘no New Zealand experience’ as an excuse – we live in a global economy,” said Iswar.
He added that immigrants naturally try hard because they feel they have to prove themselves and are willing to go the extra mile, often working longer hours.
“When you have people in your team working just 5% harder, it’s going to make a significant difference to the bottom line,” he said.
“My wife works in the construction industry, which is very ‘bloke’ orientated. As the number of women increase within that environment, she can see a tangible change in the level of respect people pay each other – they’re having a different conversation, and it’s healthy.
“My advice is to pay closer attention to the person’s motivations, their skill set and their attitude – you’re almost always going to find these are favourable – and less attention to their name, accent or country of origin.”
Today Iswar’s Auckland based chartered accounting and business advisory firm has a large SME client base and a diverse team of people from New Zealand, China, India, Thailand, South Africa, Korea and Taiwan.
Iswar was recently identified as a New Emerging Leader by New Zealand Asian Leaders (NZAL) and is also one of four finalists in the Newmarket Business Awards 2018 ‘Young Business Person of the Year’ award.