What do Elton John, Michael Caine and Cliff Richard all have in common? They all changed their names before embarking on their careers. It seemed to work for them. Would we be flocking to see Rocketman if it had been a celebration of the life of Reginald Dwight, or trying to do cockney impressions of Maurice Joseph Micklewhite?
But it’s one thing choosing to change your name. It’s quite another when you are forced to do so by your employer who thinks your name is “too foreign”. It clearly infringes employment laws on race discrimination and yet in a survey of 1000 people, a third of ethnic minority employees reported being asked to adopt a western work name by their boss.
You could argue that asking someone to change their name is fine as long as they have the option to say no. But employers shouldn’t assume that consent is willingly given. Many workers agree to use a different name because they worry their careers will suffer if they don’t. They are not in a strong bargaining position when they have just started work but could later use it as evidence of race discrimination if things don't work out.
Bosses ask workers to alter ‘foreign’ names to something more English and easier to say