I used a white-sounding name on my resume and got way more interviews, our meeting food keeps getting eaten, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Coworkers keep eating the food for meetings that they’re not attending

I work in an office where it is common to have catered lunches for executive meetings. The conference room is too small to set up the food inside, so it is usually set up buffet style in a common area outside of the conference room, which is right across from my desk. I think it is very rude when staff members who are not part of the meeting help themselves to the buffet, not knowing if all meeting attendees have even arrived. If it is a meeting that I have organized, I have to remind them that there may be latecomers attending the meeting who would still like to eat. The response is dirty looks and I’ve been told that they should be on time!

I have tried sending out emails prior to meetings explaining that any leftovers will be available in the kitchen area after the meeting and was referred to as the “lunch nazi!” I don’t oppose anyone who cannot afford lunch helping themselves after the meeting is over, but some of these folks are on the higher end of the scale and could afford to buy lunch for the entire staff! Do you think this is rude or am I just being old-fashioned and petty? What do you suggest?

They’re being rude. It’s entirely reasonable and normal to tell people to leave food alone if it’s for a meeting that they’re not part of.

Is there really no way to set up the food inside the meeting room instead? If not, then your office needs a policy that food for meetings is off-limits to non-attendees until the food is relocated to the kitchen afterwards, and you or whoever has the standing to do this needs to enforce it. If people are snarky about it, they’re being rude and you should ignore their snark. (If the problem is coming from higher-ups, someone like a well-respected office manager needs to tell them to cut out the rudeness and that you’re only enforcing an office-wide policy.)

2. Candidate said he would send a reference list and I haven’t heard back

I’m at kind of a weird point with an applicant and I’m not quite sure if it’s a red flag or not. I did in-person interviews with four people over the course of two weeks. I got together with the other interviewers and we decided the best applicant was the first guy we talked to, a little over two weeks ago. But before I can offer him the job I have to check his references, so I emailed him on Monday asking him to provide me with a list. He responded during the day on Tuesday saying he’d work on it that night. Well, it’s Wednesday night and I still have no references.

I realize one extra day is not that long of a wait and if he emails me tomorrow morning, great. I’m just confused why he didn’t already have a list of references ready. The interview process has been dragging on for two months, he was one of the top four candidates and he knew it. I’d think getting your references ready is a normal preparation step. He obviously did a lot of prep work before his interview. Like, I’m pretty sure he read a bunch of scientific papers about our teapot building machine, so it’s not like he’s incapable of being prepared.

So I guess my question is, should I be worried, or is this normal?

There’s definitely nothing conclusive here but it’s one of those things that’s so different from what you normally see from strong candidates that I can understand why you’re taking note of it. It’s totally possible that he’s just having a hectic week at work or something, and I don’t think it’s a big deal if you ended up hearing back on Thursday (yesterday). But yeah, if you didn’t end up hearing from him on Thursday, I’d raise my eyebrows at that. It could be a sign that his enthusiasm for the job is waning, or that he’s not great at follow-through, or hell, maybe his email just got lost in the ether. It’s certainly not something to disqualify him over, but if he does get you that reference list, it would be smart to ask his references about his follow-through and sense of urgency.

And for readers who are thinking that a few days shouldn’t mean anything, it’s mainly that this is a deviation from how this normally goes. Even if he just wanted to confirm with his references that they’re available this week (which is reasonable), it’s the lack of communication since the call that feels off. And yes, I know that employers routinely take far longer to get back to candidates and yes, it’s a double standard. It’s still a thing that often carries more meaning when a candidate does it.

3. I used a white-sounding name on my resume and got way more interviews

I am a black female and I have an unusual name or as some may call “ethnic.” I’ve been unemployed for three months and am doing all that’s required to find a job. I’ve followed your blog for many years. I changed my name to “Shauna” (which could plausibly be a nickname from my real name) on my resume. After doing that I received more calls and interview requests in two weeks than I have these past three months. What really sucks is that I reapplied to the exact same companies I had applied to with my real name, and three of them called “Shauna” back for an interview. Yes, when I interviewed they were shocked that I am black, but at least one of them didn’t care because they called and offered me a job this morning. I asked to think it over.

Alison, I don’t like the name Shauna. I feel like a fraud. I am very proud of my name. I love it but I need a job. My friends and family tell me to get over it, take the job and start going by Shauna. If I take the job and fill out paperwork, the HR lady is going to know my real name and may withdraw the job offer. What do you think of this practice of changing your name on a resume to get a job? Below is a good article on it. I really value your opinion.

Ugh, I’m sorry. This is a pretty well-documented thing; studies have shown that even people who consider themselves progressive and non-racist have unconscious biases that can come out in ways like this, because of the way society has wired us. It’s horrible.

If you want the job, you should take the job! When you accept the offer, just say, “By the way, for when you get the official paperwork started, I want to mention that my full legal name is ___.” It is very, very unlikely that this will lead the offer being withdrawn. They know you now, and they’ve already decided that they want to hire you. “Shauna” got around the unconscious bias that can otherwise be in play before they get to know you. But you’re through the door, they’ve hired you, and you should use your real name. (Plus, from a purely practical standpoint, they’d run into some legal issues if they suddenly withdrew the offer after this.)

4. How to ask a coworker to stop talking about my wedding

I started as an assistant at a university about six months ago. This is my first career-track job I have had, so I’m just trying to get a sense of office norms. Your blog has helped a lot! I even got the job after asking the “magic question.” My coworker started about the same time as me and is a couple years older than me, and quickly found out that we are both getting married around the same time. We have a lot (sometime extreme amounts) of downtime and a lot of mindless tasks to do, so we often wind up talking. She *loves* to talk about her wedding plans and asks me about mine constantly. I really dislike talking about my wedding, especially at work. It’s nothing against weddings, I’m definitely excited for mine, but I’m not the stereotypical “blissful bride” and I dislike how much people treat getting married as some sort of accomplishment. I’d rather they focus on my actual accomplishments.

While I partake in the wedding talk to an extent, I have been finding it really hard to get her to stop talking/stop asking me questions about it. I have tried just segueing into other topics, but she always reverts back, and the times I’ve just said I’d rather talk about something else makes me seem overly negative. (People really expect women to love talking about their weddings! I get odd reactions when I tell people I don’t.) I’m just not sure how to nicely tell her, and others, that I’m just not that into wedding talk.

The easiest, most effective way is probably to make it about you needing an escape from wedding planning stress. You could say, “Work is my one place where I can get away from talking about the wedding. While I’m here, I’m wedding-talk-free! Thanks for understanding.” Or “I’m getting stressed out by all the wedding talk, so I’m making work a wedding-free zone for me.”

That said, people are remarkably weird about this, and you’ll probably have to enforce this a couple of times before it sticks.

Or you could be more straightforward: “I I feel like men don’t end up talking about their wedding planning at work, and I’m trying to avoid doing it myself.”

Frankly, if you wanted to, a totally different option would be to say, “I’m actually leaving all the planning to Fergus. I’m not involved at all, and it’s great.” This will probably draw you into a conversation about how unusual it that is, how can you trust him with it all, etc., but it would be a nice blow to strike for wedding-planning-equality.

5. Is this a veiled rejection?

I was invited by a company for a job which was not posted yet — most likely I was the first candidate. After the first round, I was invited for the final round. They came back to me on time and said, “You made a good impression but we want to see more candidates, so this will take time, 2 to 4 weeks.” They are aware that I am dealing with other companies and had other final interviews.

Can I already be considered as being rejected?

What?! No, that’s quite a leap. Take what they said at face value. They interviewed you before the job was even posted and they still need to talk to other candidates (because the point of hiring is to hire the best person, not just the first good person you talk to). They’ll come back to you once that’s done.

If you get another offer in the meantime, then contact them immediately, let them know you have another offer that you need to respond to within X days, and see if they like you enough to speed up their process and make you an offer. But until that happens, all you can do is wait and let the process play out.

{ 767 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*

    #3

    Yup, do what Allison says. If they yank your offer, I can’t imagine a legal case that would be easier to win.

    1. Seal*

      It is not at all uncommon to go by a nickname, so the HR person shouldn’t bat an eye when you use your real name on your paperwork. I know many people, myself included, who go by nicknames that are not obvious derivatives of their given names, or go by their middle names.

      For that matter, you have every right to go by whatever name you prefer. If you don’t like using Shauna, tell your new boss when you start you’d prefer to go by your given name and introduce yourself to your new coworkers that way. No one should bat an eye over that, either – your name is your name.

      1. Kyrielle*

        “You know, I’ve been going by Shauna lately*, but more and more I’m realizing I’d rather use my given name – (Name).”

        * …for job applications and interviews, and only very lately, but it’s true.

        1. SometimesALurker*

          That’s what I was thinking, too. Or “I’m transitioning back to using my given name — (Name), please call me that.”

          1. Emi.*

            I would use a different word from “transitioning” because it sounds like gender transitioning, and even if both names are clearly women’s names it could be confusing or distracting.

          2. hayling*

            I agree that some version of this would totally work, maybe try “I am going back to using Shaniqua”?

        2. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Yeah, it’s super easy. “I was trying to go by Shauna for a minute, but just can’t get used to it. I’ve decided to switch back to ” Nbd.

        3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          This may even be too much justification. “In the past I’ve used Shauna, but here I’d actually like to use my full name, Shaniqua.”

          I go by my middle name and have never, ever had to justify it in any more detail than that.

          1. Sam*

            Yep, I had someone do this recently – his legal (Chinese) name was on his application info, but he’d also listed a preferred name that was clearly anglicized. Afterwards, he just said, “Actually, I’d like to go back to using my legal name. Could you change that?” And that’s all there was to it.

            1. Elizabeth H.*

              Same, I have experienced this too with a few grad students from either China or India, who had “set up” an American name/version or nickname of their name at some point but were using their regular/legal name anyway later on.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              One of the tenure-track professors in my department recently went back to his Chinese given name. When he was hired a couple of years ago, he was going by “Sean” and signed all his emails that way, but lately I’ve noticed that he’s using “Xiao” exclusively.

          2. Noah*

            Agreed, I go by my middle name pretty much everywhere. “I usually go by Noah,” is all I ever have to say.

        4. OP#3*

          Thanks! I really like this suggestion. I’ll probably end up saying this or something similar like it such as “You know because some people find it hard to pronounce my given name, I’ve been going by Shauna but more and more I’m realizing that I’d rather use my given name which is Shanette. Besides, it makes my mom happy. ” Something kinda direct and cute at the same time.

        5. Erica*

          I like this.

          I’ll also note that while I absolutely benefit from white privilege, I go by a name that you can’t even pretend is a related nickname to my legal name. No one, ever — no employer, client, or anyone responsible for cutting me a check that I have to be able to cash — has ever batted an eye when I subsequently specified that legal documents and checks need to be under my legal name. For that matter, when I incorporated a small business, the LAWYER went ahead and filed the official paperwork listing me as Legalname “Nickname” Lastname.

          Going by a name that differs from your legal one is pretty common, so I don’t think this will be a big deal at all. I doubt the company will think much of it.

      2. JGray*

        I work in HR and we would not batt an eye if someone filled out an application with their nickname. I see this as no different than someone writing Bob when their legal name is Robert. Also remember that there are lots of people that go by their middle names. So an employee who goes by their middle name- lets says its Kate- will still have their entire record with the employer record reflect the legal name. You could just mention I actually like being called (insert name here) and I am sure that your supervisor and coworkers won’t think anything different.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          It is actually different from all of your examples. It’s not someone who goes by Bob when his name is Robert. It’s someone who applies as Bob, introduces himself as Bob, sits in an interview as Bob, possibly sends a thank you note or follow up communication from Bob, doesn’t correct the person who calls and says “Bob, we’d like to offer you the job,” and then gets hired and says “Actually, I go by Robert.” And it’s fine and it’s do-able and there’s nothing wrong with it other than it needs an explanation.

          1. De Minimis*

            We actually have a Rusty and that’s not his legal name….this is pretty common and I don’t think anyone would notice it. We have four people who go by different names—and none of them are cases of “Robert” versus “Bob,” “Mike” vs. “Michael,” etc.,

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Yes, that is very common. But it’s not what’s happening here.

              This issue is not that she’s using a nickname. It has nothing to do with whether a particular name is her nickname or given name, since as you said, TONS of people use nicknames. It’s that she introduced herself by a nickname, used it to apply and interview for a job, and once hired, is planning to change to a different name. That’s the part that’s unusual. I’m guessing that if you got Rusty’s resume, called Rusty, interviewed Rusty, offered the job to Rusty, called him Rusty the entire time without being corrected, and then he showed up on day 1 and said “Actually, I go by Frank,” you’d be confused. This isn’t a case of someone having one legal name but usually going by a nickname. This is a case of someone consistently (as far as her new job is concerned) using a nickname and, once hired, changing to her legal name. It’s unusual enough that someone’s going to ask why, so she needs a very quick explanation handy.

              1. Simonthegreywarden*

                I used my nickname – which is not a normal nickname for my full name, think Zan for Suzanne – on my resume and at my interview for my current job, along with my maiden name. However I actually got married between when I submitted the application and when I was hired, so when I showed up to finish paperwork, I had decided i wanted to have my full formal name used. I asked to have that on my business cards, my boss agreed, and I have kept it that way. Where I work no one treated it as being unusual.

              2. NonProfit Nancy*

                You and I seem to be in the minority (I see a lot of comments that say, “if anybody has any issue with this, it’s their problem”) but I agree with you; I think it’s a little strange for exactly the reason you state: the OP introduced herself with a certain name, and if she actually wants them to call her something else, I think she’ll need a one-sentence transition to explain the new name. That’s all.

                1. NonProfit Nancy*

                  Update: maybe part of the debate is on how different the name and nickname are. If it’s a common nickname for a name, I’d agree that this isn’t even worth mentioning (Joe for Jose, for example). I guess I was picturing the “white sounding” name the OP used not being a direct equivalent – such as Shauna for Shaniqua. Like you could see how it’s related, but it’s not just a common short form of the same name, so IMO it just seems a little strange that you introduced yourself by a different name than you want me to call you.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Update: maybe part of the debate is on how different the name and nickname are.

                  That’s not what I’m talking about, but I think people are getting hung up on that. To me, it doesn’t matter if “Shauna’s” legal name is Shauntelle or Prettydaisypumpkinflower. It’s the sudden switch from the name she used to introduce herself, very recently. And it’s not going from legal name to nickname, which is a more natural step. And it’s not a big deal, but I do think it’s going to come up, and she’s going to want a very simple, like you said, one-sentence transition.

                3. NonProfit Nancy*

                  (Reply to Rusty): Yeah, but the more I thought about the example below I realized I probably wouldn’t even care if it was something so 1:1 that it was “Tom” for “Thomas,” even if they had initially indicated one or the other. If it’s Shauna instead of LeShaniqua I think that’s a bigger issue.

                4. babblemouth*

                  I agree that it’s a little strange, but it’s also the kind of strangeness I would brush off very quickly. And definitely not in the “take away this job offer” league.
                  Frankly, if I was in the employer’s position and found out the reason for the name change, I would just empathise with Not-Shauna, and rage at racial prejudice.

              3. Elizabeth H.*

                I agree. Many people are expressing the general sentiment that it’s a normal and noneventful occurence that people sometimes change what they prefer to be called vis-a-vis nicknames or real name and I think this is nice and positive. But I appreciate that you clarified it like this because it just IS a more unusual situation, although certainly not unprecedented as others have attested to as well!

              4. Alienor*

                I don’t think it’s that unusual, but I work with a guy who goes by a name that is a nickname having nothing to do with his legal name–for the sake of argument, let’s say his legal name is “Jonathan” and he goes by “Chris.” We’re required to have our legal names as our email addresses, so his email address is jonathan.lastname at companyname dot com, and his email display name says “Jonathan (Chris) Lastname. No one seems to think anything of it.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  That’s not the point. It’s not about her nickname being a “valid” one for her legal name. It’s about the sudden switch. For your guy to be an apt analogy, he’d have to apply as Chris. He’d introduce himself as Chris at the interview. He’d never correct you when you called him Chris. And when he was hired, he’d show up on day 1 and say “Actually, I don’t go by Chris, I prefer to go by Jonathan.” You don’t think anyone might wonder what’s up with that? You wouldn’t wonder why he introduced himself as Chris last week when he really wants to be called Jonathan?

              5. Annonymouse*

                Not quite – OP has said “Shauna” could reasonably be a nickname for her real name.

                You could reasonably say “I feel it’s more professional to go by my full name and not a nickname.”

                It’s not more deceptive than me interviewing as “Ann” and later deciding to go by “Annonymouse” once hired.

                I mean if I interviewed as “Ann” and later decided to go by “Velvet” or “Starla” it would be weirder – there is no clear link between them and my interview name.

                1. NonProfit Nancy*

                  But if you introduced yourself as Ann, I think you’d still want to have a one-sentence transition: “I used to go by Ann, but I’ve decided to start fresh as Anonymous at this job, so I’d like to go by that.” That’s all that’s required, an acknowledgment that you started out with one name, but are planning to change it.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  It’s not that it’s deceptive. If you’re replying to me (sorry, can’t tell), I never called it deceptive. I just said that it’s an unusual enough way of doing things that the LW should think of a simple explanation, rather than everyone who thinks no one will bat an eye. Because I’m pretty sure if someone referred to themselves by a nickname for several formal encounters, and then when hired said “By the way, I go by Formalname,” you’d wonder what was going on. People generally go from formal to informal, or consistently go by a nickname but use their formal name for paperwork.

                1. unicorn*

                  Rusty, you have a point, but I don’t see why you’re commenting over and over about it. The issue you bring up is not that big of a deal. Yes, they need to be prepared to offer some explanation other than “I introduced myself as X and now I go by XY.” This is easily amended. As others have suggested, all they have to do is say, “I introduced myself as X and now I’ve decided to revert to using my legal name because [professionalism] (or) [because I want to start fresh] (or) [because I want to embrace my roots] (or) [because I got tired of the old nickname]” or any other similar, simple explanation that’s not really untrue. Case closed. When people change their names I normally don’t see much eyebrow raising in general, let alone if they change back to their legal name. It really doesn’t require much of an explanation. But it is indeed possible that the question will come up, so it is good to have an inoffensive explanation handy.

                  Now my brother recently changed his LEGAL last name for no reason other than to sound “Gothic.” I’m still baffled and shaking my head. Honestly I think his last name makes him sound like a comic book or video game character, like maybe he’s from Gotham City. No one has that last name. He does play a lot of video games. If you’re ambitious career-wise, unless you’re going into the video game industry, I would strongly advise against that type of name change. l o l

          2. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

            This is me. I go by a shortened version of my name in my day to day life – but verbally only. My full name is literally on everything I do both personally and professionally: my signature, my email signature, my desk name plate, my voice mail, how I introduce myself to family doctors, teachers, etc in writing and on the phone but when I am speaking to someone face to face I will introduce myself as the shortened version of my name and insist they call me that. The long form actually makes me feel like I’m in trouble since only my mother uses it. LOL! Only one manager in my entire 20+ years of working questioned it when I asked her to use my shortened name. She didn’t understand why I didn’t just use the short name. My reason? I like the way my name looks and sounds but because everyone but my mom used the short version and my mom always used the long version, especially when she was upset with me (complete with middle name) I just started to cringe when people said it aloud.
            All this to say, LW – use whichever name you want. Nobody is going to question it. People change things about themselves all the time and there’s seldom the big drama that they were expecting. :) BUT…if there’s drama, post an update. :)

          3. Misc*

            Honestly, I didn’t even realise til I read your later comments that this example was meant to be a bad thing. It just sounds normal to me.

            Names are contextual, and for both day to day or new contexts preferences can change.

      3. AKJ*

        Yes, I go by my middle name and have for ages – I use my full name for my resume (first, middle and last) and then I introduce myself using middle name and explain that is what I go by. It has only been an issue once, and in that case it was a red flag regarding that company’s attitudes in general. No one in HR has ever made a big deal out of the fact that the name on my official paperwork is not the name they know me by.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I do this too–but it’s annoying sometimes when HR only knows me by my legal name. At Exjob, we got plaques for our first year of service and mine had my first name on it. Which I don’t go by. Ugh.

    2. neverjaunty*

      And I doubt they’ll yank the offer. That would mean admitting to themselves they had biases, which of course nice people don’t have.

      1. Kath*

        The people who are screening resumes with Africentric names out also aren’t really into hiring people with white-sounding names that turn up at an interview and are – surprise! – so not white. It’s about race, rather than any iffy class bias associations with certain names, so I think you’re probably fine if you’ve gotten this far. It’s not as though they’re going to suddenly realize you’re black when you reveal your name, y’know?

        1. Natalie*

          Although it’s likely that this is implicit bias – rather than explicitly trying to screen out black names, the name was tripping various subconscious beliefs around race and class. If that’s the case, once the LW has gotten past that screening step and is a known quantity, she’s less likely (not unlikely) to run into the same issue.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Which always makes me wonder why parents give kids names that trip various subconscious beliefs around race and class, from a brutally pragmatic perspective. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I know damn well those subconscious beliefs are wrong and harmful. But given that they’re the terrain we all walk on, is it not prudent to avoid the avoidable land mines?

            1. Lemon Zinger*

              It is. Read Freakonomics. There is a wonderful section on how names can influence opportunities in the workforce.

            2. Natalie*

              I imagine some people are simply not thinking of implicit bias – so much of our national conversation is around explicit bias that it’s easy to ignore implicit. Other parents might, sadly, may be assuming it won’t be an issue for their child because of all of those biases, explicit and implicit. Other parents may be defiantly naming their children according to their cultural mores and not the man’s/

            3. Zahra*

              So, because people are racists (consciously or not, as I said, intent is not magic/a “get-out-of-jail” card), I should deny my heritage and not give my kids a name from my own culture and instead use a “white” name? Just so people with conscious and unconscious bias can continue to live in obliviousness of their own racism, classism and privilege?

              Do you realize how hurtful it is to say “is it not prudent to avoid the avoidable land mines”?

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                Do you realize how hurtful it is to be denied opportunities due to something as simple as your name – which you had no input on?

                Also, don’t assume I’m white, or that my given name is not highly characteristic of a certain culture, or that I haven’t grappled with this question for real. My parents dumped me right on a land mine. And there’s plenty of names that are an authentic reflection of heritage and culture they could have chosen, but didn’t.

                1. Zahra*

                  Being non-white doesn’t mean a person is not racist.

                  And I do know about being denied opportunities. What I’m saying is that we won’t solve this situation by pandering to the bias of privileged people.

                1. Venus Supreme*

                  Agreed. I literally JUST had this conversation with someone. If Jamal is an important family name, name your kid Jamal. It means “beauty.” The last thing I’d want to do to a family name is get rid of it because it’s not white enough.

                2. Fortitude Jones*

                  Yup. And unfortunately, that’s what my mother did to me. She gave me the whitest white girl first name she could think of (but gave me a black middle name) because she said I was already going to have it hard enough in life as a black woman – she didn’t want to saddle me with a first name that was going to make it worse. As if my name alone would shield me from reality, lol. It hasn’t, though I admit I could have it much worse than I currently do.

              2. MashaKasha*

                I agree. Plus, you never know what can pop into people’s heads. One of my sons has been getting comments recently that he has a “non-white first name” and someone actually did say that he “won’t be getting many callbacks with this name on a resume”. It is an Eastern European name that was common in his country of birth the year he was born. You just can’t plan around people’s ridiculous racist assumptions, and truth is, it’s not right for them to deny a person a chance of employment based on these assumptions in the first place. I would work more on nipping this attitude in the bud and less (as in not at all) on coming up with workarounds for it.

                PS. Back in my home country in the 80s, I changed my father’s (very ethnic) middle name on a college application to get into my college of choice, which had an unwritten policy not to admit people of that ethnicity. It worked. I’m not happy that I had to do that. My dad’s siblings had all changed their names to be less ethnic in order to avoid discrimination. Not happy about that, either. We cannot normalize that kind of thing, it’s insulting to those on the receiving end of it.

              3. Jenna*

                I agree with you Zahra.

                I’ve read Freakanomics (among other sociological/economic texts). I agree that there is bias, especially because of the demographics of the people who are currently in positions of leadership. That’s not a reason to expect someone to deny their heritage and culture. Here’s to hoping that, in the future, there are just as many Aaliyahs and Maliks in leadership roles as there are Emilys and Jacobs.

            4. Manager Shmanager*

              If people pander to the bias, how will we ever evolve beyond it? Parents should be able to name their children whatever they wish, as befitting the personality and culture of the family and child. Just as everyone should take pride in their name and not worry how others might associate unfair perceptions to it.

              I know we are not there, as the letter writer’s experience demonstrates, but the responsibility is on those holding the bias, rather than those that are victims of it.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                It’s not pandering to the bias. My son’s name is reflective of his – and my, and my wife’s – heritage. It’s just also not going to trip any land mines.

                1. Tea*

                  How is it not, though? I think calling race a “land mine” is really…… just not a great way to characterize it– it sounds like what you’re basically saying is, “Don’t give (racist) people a reason to think of you as anything other than white. Don’t remind them that you might be [whatever race you are], because that will trip all sorts of problematic land mines (racist beliefs they have) and work against you.”

                2. Zahra*

                  To be clear, it’s absolutely okay not to want to fight this fight. It’s also absolutely okay to say that it’s a hill you’re willing to die on.

                3. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  If a name reflects someone’s heritage, it sounds dismissive to refer to that as “tripping land mines.” It takes the focus away from the problem – the implicit bias people have – and puts it on the family – now the problem is that they chose a name “wrong.”

                  It is good to be aware of the nuances around naming, and fine to decide to choose a name that will not meet with resistance from implicit racial bias (and fine to decide to choose a name that reflects what you want from your own personal history or heritage, racial biases be damned). But that wording – land mines – just sticks in my craw because of where it puts the blame/focus.

                4. Use My Actual Name*

                  I wouldn’t be too sure on that. Context and geographic location matter.

                  I have a very common “white girl” name in the USA/Canada/UK/Australia. No one here would have difficulty pronouncing it or think it strange.

                  I spent several years living and working in Germany and Eastern Europe.

                  No one could pronounce it. No one.

                  What happened?

                  (1) People would try and use the “long form” version of the name. My parents did not give me the long form version. So people were calling me by a name that wasn’t my own.

                  Think someone is actually named “Bob” but people call him “Robert” because it is easier.

                  (2) People would use an “adjacent name”. Think someone calling you Kelly instead of Kerry.

                  (3) People would avoid working with me/talking to me b/c of their frustration about my name.

                  So simply trying to “not trip any land mines” is futile. Absolutely futile.

                5. Simonthegreywarden*

                  I have had the black students I work with talk about this very frankly. In their own words (direct quote) they will talk about having ‘ghetto names’ and how they wish their names had nicknames that ‘were white’ so they didn’t have to wonder if they were getting rejected for jobs because of race. At the same token, they are very passionate about the names they want to give their children (or have given their children), and want to continue on an ethnic tradition. One of them has said before that she wished she had not given her son a name with an apostrophe because she is afraid it will be judged when he is an adult. In those instances, it is not my place to offer advice or comment (and I know I can’t, I’m a white woman with literally the most common name for women born in my year, and there were at least 8 blonde girls with my same name in my graduating high school class). I do reaffirm to them that it’s ok to use a nickname to apply for jobs, it’s ok to not want to change their names, it’s ok to feel sometimes like they are “selling out” if they do change their name, and that most of all, they have to do whatever they feel is right for them.

                6. One of the Sarahs*

                  Re tripping line mines – ouch, that hurts. My nephew’s middle name is the same as his father’s and grandfather’s – named after his great-grandfather who was a bomber in WWII who has this amazing life story about fighting for Poland, then escaping across Europe to join the French airforce for fight the Nazis, being captured, escaping a prisoner of war camp, then escaping across the channel to fight for the UK air force. It’s also a *very* Polish name.

                  My sister has never faced racism before marrying her husband, who has this amazing, very Polish surname, but suddenly is having a little bit of it – the estate agent who promised her she wouldn’t let Poles into her house, eg. She was a bit worried about the combination of an ambiguous first name (think Peter) with a very Polish surname, and a very Polish middle name. But denying her husband the chance to honour his family would be so wrong – as would trying to give her son a “more British” first name, when they both have reasons for what they want to call him.

                  My TL;DR is that it’s up to the rest of us to confront our biases, and not criticise people for naming their children, because “this is a powerful name I love” should be the deciding factor, not trying to think of a racist-proof name.

            5. ThursdaysGeek*

              Because they like the name and think that surely, in 18 years when this is an issue for my kid, we will have moved past this?

            6. MeanHRLady*

              I have to somewhat agree with The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist on this one. Unfortunately people in the hiring field have unconscious biases. It’s a fact of life. It’s wrong, I wish it would change, but it is what it is.

              My feelings are that it’s not so much that “ethnicity” or “non-white” names are easy to spot and are discarded, it’s that they’re sometimes difficult to pronounce. I will think twice about contacting a candidate via phone because I’m terrified that I will butcher someone’s name. My maiden name was difficult to pronounce so I know how it feels when someone always mispronounces your name. Instead, I’ll typically email the candidate so I don’t mispronounce their name. That way they can reach back out to me, and I can hear them pronounce their name so I don’t sound like a total idiot on the phone with them.

              1. Use My Actual Name*

                ” I will think twice about contacting a candidate via phone because I’m terrified that I will butcher someone’s name.”

                But in an increasingly global world, this will unavoidable.

                I have a very, very common white girl name. Asians and Eastern Europeans and native German speakers can not pronounce it.

                You are assuming that the person is living and working in one country (presumably the USA).

                That is no longer the world we live in.

                People have to get used to being out of their comfort zone and simply asking “can you pronounce your name for me” or “Is Zakhira there”? If he/she says yes you then ask “am I pronouncing that properly” and go from there.

                Your discomfort is no excuse not to show basic respect. If you are an HR person and don’t know that, I’d really wonder about the quality and diversity of candidates you are getting.

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  Re. Marisol: I don’t know if ‘disrespectful’ is the exact right word, but there IS a difference if you email people with ethnic names while you phone call people who are likely to be American/native English speakers/white. You connect with people differently over phone than over email and the end result is categorically that you are systematically giving people a different interview experience based on their presumed background.

              2. Pommette*

                There are studies backing this perception up (one came out a few years ago looking at “stereotypically” West European names+hiring responses in the USA: names that were hard for English-speaking Americans to pronounce got fewer call-backs than others).

                I moved to an English-speaking part of the world as a young adult. I have been here ten years. In that time, no one (except for the occasional people who also speak my first language) has pronounced my name correctly. Some people try, and get pretty close. Some people try and fail horribly. No one gets close without asking for guidance. I honestly don’t feel hurt or offended by mispronunciations, or offended when people ask for guidance. The one thing that scares me the most, and that would offend me, is the idea that someone might avoid reaching out to me because they were worried about mispronouncing my name!

                (No offence to you: it sounds like you found a process that works well. It’s probably also a good way to catch those candidates whose names look common but are in fact pronounced in a slightly different way).

                That said: people everywhere have unconscious biases. And once we become aware of those biases and of the ways they play out, there are lots of things we can do to avoid acting on them!

              3. TL -*

                Really? I work in a very diverse field and there are a ton of people whose names are difficult for most Americans to pronounce from the written version. We generally either ask someone who’s familiar with the language or google, and then double check: “Hi, is Vulcania? Am I pronouncing that right?”

                I’m not offended when non-native English speakers say my English name wrong. I don’t think they’re offended if I get a non-English name wrong on the first try. Just ask.

              4. Zahra*

                My name isn’t hard to pronounce (it’s literally pronounced as written, nothing to trip you up in the spelling), but the combination of syllables is unusual enough that people trip over it.

                Frankly, as long as you make a good faith effort, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as if you obviously decided not to bother trying to sound out my name. For people I will doing be doing business with on a regular basis and didn’t bother with a minimal effort, I will ask them to take a few seconds, re-read my name and try again. (Oh yes, I can be that kind of very direct person. I won’t say rude, as it is rude not to even try to say someone’s name correctly in the first place.)

                I think you’ll find that most people won’t hold a grudge against you if you stumble a little.

              5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                But the solution to grappling with a “difficult to pronounce name” is to do exactly what you suggested—ask how to properly pronounce it, and practice saying it correctly. Not to avoid calling someone because of fear of your own embarrassment; that’s penalizing the applicant for your hang up.

                As a fundamental matter, we should all strive to say people’s given names correctly, even if it is difficult for us. I grew up bilingual. Most of the given names from my ethnic community are written phonetically in English for ease of translation, because our alphabet has over 35 letters and 10 vowel/stress/tone modifiers (most of our names, however, can be easily pronounced with all the phonetic sounds that exist in English). And people still can’t pronounce those names, not because they’re difficult, but because they have a mental block that goes “oh, that name is foreign; I can’t say it.” Meanwhile, English-only speakers have the bizarre idea that their names are somehow “easy” to pronounce—they’re not!

                We live in a diverse world and in an increasingly diverse society. We have to push each other to do better on things like this, not to indulge the embedded biases we all have.

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  I agree completely re. striving to say people’s names correctly. I think this is really important and that a ton of American native English speakers don’t try hard enough. I’ll admit that I consider myself innately pretty good at knowing how to pronounce names (I have a lot of background knowledge about various languages, and I also think it correlates with being good at spelling, which I am excellent at) but I also will actually look up and read about pronunciations and I remember everything I hear. I think a lot of it is laziness and some weird discomfort with admitting you don’t know something and it makes you feel better to pretend that it’s not important if you can’t do it well. The funny thing is that while I speak a couple languages I’m very shy and self-conscious about speaking out loud – I am NOT an innately good-at-languages person (I even *taught* 1st year Russian as a non-native speaker, and I still feel self conscious) – but I don’t feel that way about names at all, I feel that it’s much more important to say it correctly than to avoid the feelings of self-consciousness.

              6. Formica Dinette*

                FWIW, I have pretty good luck with finding name pronunciation online, as well as what gender they’re typically associated with.

              7. ThatAspie*

                Disclaimer: my skin is as white as the driven snow, the only non-white people in my family tree are way too far back to count for much, and my name, while unusual, is just the Celtic version of a very common Welsh name.

                That being said, I can contribute here, because people often misspell and/or mispronounce my name (again, it’s the rarely-used Celtic spelling of a super-common Welsh name, although recently many celebrities have risen with names that are in between the two spellings). I’m not going to tell which name it is, but I will say that the Celtic version has two letters that don’t appear in the original Welsh spelling, and that one of those extra letters is silent.

                I got more than my fair share of crap for my name growing up, and even nice people sometimes (read: often) struggled with my name. I’ve had people miss letters spelling it, pronounce the silent letter, and even mess up on vowel pronounciation (the pronounciation is the same in both the Welsh and Celtic spellings, it’s just the written form that’s different.) As a kid, I often got mad at people who misspelled or mispronounced my name, even though I knew that very few of them did it on purpose. I even fantasized about changing my name to something else, maybe even just the more common spelling. But now, I’m an adult, and I simply spell my name out for people (“[letter] as in [word that starts with that letter]” format) and correct them if they still screw up.

                Here are some tips for avoiding name-butchering and issues that go with it:
                – If you’re unsure, ask.
                – If you mess up, apologize and correct yourself.
                – If someone spells out their name for you, listen.

            7. Pebbles*

              Here’s a counterpoint to consider though: you will NEVER find a name that will be perfectly acceptable to all people. I have a very bland first name, that was #1 of all girls born during a particular set of years in this country. Yet kids still found a way to pick on me, making variations of my name (the creativity of kids astound me!) that were hurtful. I remember many of those kids by name and will never name my own kids if I have any by any of those names.

              Whose to say that you give your child what you think should be a perfectly “acceptable” name and some hiring person has had a negative experience with someone else with that same name (“oh, we had a Frank here once and he always came to work drunk”) and uses that to affect their judgment when it really shouldn’t?

              1. Use My Actual Name*

                Agreed. I have a very basic “easy” white girl name. The majority of non-English speakers on this planet cannot pronounce it.

                We need to stop assuming everyone is a white English speaking American.

                We need to start showing the basic courtesy of calling people what they want to be called.

                We need to learn that our own discomfort when we run across something we don’t know – be it someone’s name or some other fact about them – is no excuse not to try. It’s no excuse not to be courteous.

                1. many bells down*

                  I gave my daughter a gender-neutral first name that is more common in the UK than in America (where we are). It’s 5 letters long. Two things generally happen: people pronounce it wrong, or people assume she’s male. The latter happens most often. It’s happened even when I say something like “I’m calling about my daughter, (Name).” and they reply “Okay, what’s his date of birth?”

                2. MashaKasha*

                  ^ That’s what keeps happening with my oldest son’s name. It is a pretty common, Eastern European name. People here in the US have always looked at his name and assumed he was a girl. In one case, he and I were standing in front of a college admission official, handing his papers over to her, and she still asked, “Is this about your daughter?” I do not have a daughter…

            8. Maurge*

              I’m white and have a very black-sounding first and last name. (Think “Tyrese Washington”). In my case, my mom read my first name in a magazine, thought it was lovely and didn’t do any further research. She had never heard the name before (she doesn’t know many black people) and didn’t associate it with any race.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                My husband’s doctor is named Jamal, and we were expecting a black guy when he made his first appointment with him. We were actually kind of excited that we were finally getting some diversity in our 90% white small town, having both come from places with way more diversity than that. But no, the doctor is a white guy named Jamal.

                1. Anon for this*

                  My name is Tyson. I’m from a 95+% white small town in the midwest. For whatever reason, Tyson was a popular name in my hometown when I was born; I can name a half dozen other Tysons around my age from my hometown, all white.

                  When I went to college, my roommates told me they assumed I was black when they found out my name, presumably because some of the most famous Tysons (Mike, Cecily, Beckford) are black. My hard-to-pronounce last name (which is just German and super-common in areas with lots of people of German ancestry) probably didn’t help, as it likely just seemed “exotic” to 18-year-olds.

                  It had never occurred to me (or probably to my parents, who personally know approximately 0 black people) that I might have a “black”-sounding name!

            9. Lora*

              They can change their names when they are old enough, if that’s a thing they would like to do. It’s just paperwork. Know several who have, and also a great many Asian folks who have Western nicknames. Have colleagues who are fraternal twin sisters who both had the same major in college, and the names they picked were “Amy” and “May”. I thought it was pretty cute, myself.

              1. Marisol*

                Well, changing your name may be easy from a legal perspective, but it’s not necessarily an easy decision. And practically speaking, it can be a challenge negotiating the change with the people in your life–friends and family who you grew up with may not want to switch (and it may seem weird to you to ask them to change as well) and if your old friends and new friends get together, you may find you have two different names you go by…it’s not a simple matter.

            10. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

              My name is very common across white and African American communities. In my graduating class there were 6 girls with my name, split evenly 3/3 for each race. I am white. I have had interviews with people where they’ve commented that they were expecting a black woman. I also go by the shortened version, which is Asian sounding. I had a co-worker who, when hired was told he’d be working with me, was surprised I wasn’t an Asian woman.

              My daughter, who is white, is named after her Italian great-grandmother and we’ve been asked if she’s Spanish because of how her name sounds.

              Names are a weird thing. Just a single encounter with a person of a certain name can color that name for you. I have a bias against the name Cheryl. Every single encounter I’ve had with a woman who was named Cheryl (all spellings) has been awful. And every teacher I know has a list of names not to name their kids based on the classroom roster.

            11. Marisol*

              My mother intentionally gave me a unisex name for this reason, and I appreciate her for that. The way I see it, life brings you enough struggles without you intentionally choosing them. Choosing the path of least resistance can be a wise move.

            12. HannahS*

              No. The answer to “people are racist” isn’t “pander to it” because racism doesn’t go away unless fought. It gets stronger if ignored, not weaker.

              It’s not as even as pragmatic as you think. What if the political climate changes, and certain ethnicity become seen as model minorities or go from model minority to dangerous? Jia Yi goes from being “good student” to “dangerous.” What if your kid moves? A black woman in Quebec could name her child Monique or Jerome and have it be seen as a very common, “neutral”, French name, but as “ghetto” if she moves to the States. Or, because the kid’s not named Alitash or Tariku, they’ll always be clearly a foreigner if they move back to Ethiopia.

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                Yes! I’ve got a very stereotypical Irish surname – if it were the 1980s when the IRA were active here, I’d probably be stopped at UK border controls, and getting hassled. In 2017? It’s completely benign. Similarly, a girl I was at school with, whose parents left Iran because of the regime, was seen as completely benign in all her travels to the USA as an actress, but now could be banned. We just don’t know what will happen next, so name kids things you love.

          2. Lissa*

            Yeah, I thought that too. I’m sure that many of the hiring people would say “Of course I’d be just as likely to hire a Latoya as a Lisa!” but in practise, nope. Kinda like how a lot of people (men and women) will say they aren’t sexist but automatically ask the guy in the room the questions. But if you asked them “could the woman be the one in charge” they’d say sure.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              And part of the problem, part of what makes it so insidious, is that human beings are really, really good at rationalizing things–especially things related to human behavior. We really like making up a story that makes another person’s actions make sense to us. You see this on advice columns all the time, where whenever someone writes in with something ridiculous or egregious–“my coworker kicked me repeatedly in the shins after I disagreed with her in a meeting” or etc.–there are always a number of people attempting to invent some reasonable excuse for it based on zero evidence in the letter, like “maybe she’s on a medication that affects her behavior!” or “did you perhaps run repeatedly into her foot and not notice it?” People like to make up stories that make other peoples’ behavior into a story that make sense, and often a farfetched explanation is more enjoyable and satisfying to make up than “she kicked you because she’s a bully and a jerk.”

              But we especially like to do it when it comes to rationalizing our own behavior, especially so that we can go on thinking of ourselves as good people. So even if you point out, “Hey, did you realize that you automatically deferred to the white person (or the man, or whatever) in the room?” the vast majority of people will instantly come up with some reason other than than racism (sexism, etc.): the one they deferred to was sitting at a particular position at the table, he was dressed ‘more professionally,’ he was the one with the laptop (or he was the one without the laptop–that one spins neatly on a dime), or even a vague ‘he spoke more professionally’ or ‘he held himself in a more authoritative manner’ or something (which overlooks that we are culturally primed to see the speech of a white person or a man as more professional or more authoritative or whatever, just by dint of their race or sex or etc.), on and on–anything but ‘he was the white person’ or ‘he was the man.’ (There’s also a strong element of fundamental attribution error to this: he didn’t listen to Leshawn because he’s racist; when I didn’t listen to Leshawn, it was because [pick any of the reasons above].)

              And what makes it most insidious is that most of us actually believe what we are saying. For some people who are blatantly and consciously bigoted, it’s an ex post facto excuse, but for most people for whom these biases are largely unconscious or implicit, we believe what we are saying. We really do believe that we’d be just as happy hiring a Leshawn as a Larry, or a Janice as a Joe. It’s just that we’re deceiving ourselves, and our self-deception is hurting others.

              Which is why it’s so difficult to combat–and so important that we be consciously aware of our tendency to bias and actively work to counteract it, rather than brushing it off as, “Oh, I’m not racist, so obviously I had a really good reason not to hire Leshawn.” We really have to work hard to get past it, to actively interrogate our own justifications, and it’s tough work but it’s absolutely necessary to do. (I mean, I have to do it re: sexism even though I’m a woman! Implicit biases are incredibly pervasive that way.)

              1. maybefriday*

                Okay so I’ve never commented here before, but I finally had to jump in to say I agree with this a million percent.

              2. Lissa*

                Yeah, especially when somebody has it in their heads that only a *bad person* would be more likely to hire Larry than Leshawn, and they’re a *good person*, so in their case, it couldn’t possibly be that! It must be one of the many other reasons! people look at it as binary. But, the point of unconscious/implicit bias is that being a good person does not help you here, not even a bit. It’s been put in there by society and takes a lot more than just wanting to be good/non-bigoted to actually change those things.

              3. margarets*

                + 1 kajillion internet points

                I interviewed with a small local consulting firm last summer. I was able to suss out that in over a decade, they had hired ONE person who wasn’t a white able-bodied male (most of whom had very Anglo names, and 50 bucks says they were straight too). That person was… a white able-bodied female with an Anglo name. This is in a very multicultural city too so they would definitely have had more diverse applicants over the years.

                But I’ll bet they honestly think they have no biases, even they’ve even noticed their pattern.

            2. Pommette*

              Agreed. But once we move past pretending that we don’t have all kinds of weird biases, it becomes possible to take steps to reduce the impact of our biases.

              Name-blind applications are a simple classic (it only works for the first step of the application process, but it’s already an improvement on what is happening in most places).

              Self- and group-monitoring also works. Have someone count how many questions get asked of men, and of women, when your group meets with clients/colleagues, and discuss the results (in a way that isn’t accusatory, just matter of fact: why did this happen this way?). Over time, the count is likely to get more even. It’s awkward and slow-going, but it can change the way things work!

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                We do this in meetings—we assign a timekeeper, a facilitator, and a peacekeeper. The peacekeeper’s job is to watch the dynamics of the meeting and to intervene (this can be by noting someone has been waiting to speak for days, or repeating a valid point that was made then ignored/dismissed inappropriately, etc.).

              2. Turtle Candle*

                Looking at metrics (like ‘how often do we ask a question of a woman vs. a man’ or ‘how much time are various people actually talking’) really is sobering and eye-opening. I had a situation at work recently-ish where we have an entry-level role (let’s say, oh, Rice Grain Handler) that has two possible paths leading from it (let’s say Rice Grain Analyst and Rice Grain Tester). They’re both valuable jobs, and they tend to correlate to different skill sets, but due to the nature of the industry, Rice Grain Tester has more room for upward mobility and leads to a career track with, on average, more prestige and better pay.

                We had thought that we were nudging people toward one track or another based on ability. Janice would make a great Rice Grain Analyst because she’s organized and data-minded. Bill obviously should be a Rice Grain Tester; he’s got a really good grasp of the dynamics of the project. Joe can’t be a Rice Grain Analyst because he’s so bad with the numbers; Sally would fit the bill nicely.

                You can see where this is going. But the thing is, in the moment, when we were making these assessments, it was shockingly unclear to us (especially since we were thinking purely in terms of the Analyst/Tester split, and not in terms of what it meant for their careers as a whole, and Analyst and Tester are on the same level; the difference comes in the future). For each one we had what we felt was a really genuinely good reason to put the woman in the Rice Grain Analyst role–and most of us making these calls were women, even. Each decision felt rational and we couldn’t see the pattern when it was one role here, one role there, over years.

                It took one of my coworkers calling a meeting with us and saying, “Do you realize that in the past three years we’ve only put women in Rice Grain Analysis?” to make us go, holy crap, that is baaaaaaad, and the chances that it’s pure coincidence were very low. We just didn’t see it until the numbers were there and we couldn’t rationalize them away.

                (We have since made a sincere effort to fix this, or at least to improve it, including making it more possible for people in Rice Grain Analysis and Rice Grain Testing to switch between roles after the fact. But it was amazing to me how easy it was to simply… not see it, even as women ourselves.)

                1. Tau*

                  I can really see this happening, unfortunately. :(

                  There may be something similar going on at my company. We hire entry-level people and train them up in different streams…… and I can’t help but notice that even when women start in the typically extremely male-dominated technical stream, they often end up switching roles to the more typically female stream that’s more about interpersonal communication and less technical. (And, also, less lucrative as a career.)

                  I started a bit over a year ago in the technical stream and am still there. And… I don’t think anyone will try to push me out. I think it’s going to be far more subtle than that. I think that what will happen is that if I mention any interest in the, let’s steal your terminology and call it the Rice Grain Analyst Stream, that will be taken up far more than if I were a man, I’ll be encouraged to look into it far more than the guys would, if the Testers need to do any analysis tasks I’ll somehow be seen as the most suitable person for them… on the surface, it might even look like my employer was being *more* supportive of me than the guys.

                  …I actually think Rice Grain Analysis looks quite cool and really important, and I wouldn’t mind knowing more about it. But I’m very very careful to avoid stating that interest particularly loudly or where certain people could hear it. At the end of the day, although Rice Grain Analysis looks cool, I want to be a Rice Grain Tester, and unfortunately enough I suspect I might have to defend that.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  @Tau, that sounds very similar to what I’m talking about. They’re both technical roles, but Rice Grain Tester is much more technical, and leads into a further, increasingly-technical track; Rice Grain Analyst is also technical, but less so, and features more soft skills and more skills that can be coded as tending towards administrative work (being very precise and organized, being able to lay hands on information for other people quickly, and being able to write up comprehensive and accurate/coherent notes on projects, among them). So it’s easy to see in retrospect how easily we slipped into recommending women for the Analyst roles… but until we got the numbers, we didn’t even see it.

                  I wish you a great deal of luck in navigating that. For what it’s worth, I think that keeping your interest in your equivalent of Rice Grain Analytics under wraps until you’re well and thoroughly on the Rice Grain Testing path is smart. I hate to say that, but yeah, I think you’re right on that front.

                3. One of the Sarahs*

                  Just wanted to give you kudos for accepting what was wrong, and finding ways to change it

        2. Gandalf the Nude*

          You make it sound more intentionally nefarious than it usually is. Most of those folks aren’t screening applicants out because the name makes them think the applicant is black but because the name makes them think the applicant is a certain insidious stereotype of a black person. But if they meet and the applicant doesn’t fit that caricature, then everything is fine, interview on. Because it’s not black people they don’t want to work with; it’s those black people, or even those Asians or those Latinx, the ones that don’t meet their standard for assimilation, which even most progressives have.

          It’s awful, and we need to find a way to fix it, but it’s important to remember that the David Dukes of the world who do this.

            1. OP#3*

              Yes Gandalf! The names make them think the applicant is a certain insidious stereotype of a black person. I have dealt with this my entire life from high school, through college and through different jobs. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard “you’re so different” or “you’re not like other black people that I know” or “at least you’re not like that” or “I can invite you to my party because my racist uncle would like you even though he doesn’t like most black folks”….the list goes on and on.

              It doesn’t (or does, actually) help that I sound white as well….which translates to I just speak proper grammar. For example (and I have MANY), in my previous job people called to get loans. Eventually they had to come in to meet with me and sign paperwork. One white lady came in and when I introduced myself she said no, I’m here to see the lady I spoke with over the phone. I told her it was me and she refused to believe me. She said, the lady I I’ve been speaking with is white. I then told her the personal things we discussed during our many phone conversations and she was pissed. She asked for my manager or another representative. In her mind my voice and my intelligence didn’t match her viewpoint of black women.

              1. Coco*

                That is so disgusting, and I’m so, so sorry you have to deal with that shit. I really hope your manager set her straight.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I remember reading recently that some companies were banning photos and names from applications for just this reason. It makes me feel quite sick to think that Joseph is going to get more interviews that Jose and Michael more than Malik, and just removing names from that early application process seems like it’d be at least a good first step while we, you know, fix an entire society’s unconscious biases.

            1. anonykins*

              On the flipside, I’ve worked in SE Asia, where photos on resumes are expected. A black coworker actually appreciated that she could include her picture as she felt it automatically ruled out companies where race would be an issue. Only helpful if you can afford to be picky like that, of course.

            2. Justme*

              Also, John tends to get more interviews than Jane even with the same education and qualifications. Stanford has done studies on it. It’s fascinating,

          2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            I think oddly-spelled or bizarre names tend to turn employers and others off even if there’s no racial undertone. I’m NOT denying that people respond in a biased way to characteristically minority-ethnic names, not at all, but there’s also just kind of a “Oh, that’s weird” reaction that some names engender.

            My wife taught a kid named “Future” for a while; now she’s got a student named “If.” I’ve taught college students named Betheneigh and Mykynzye. I had no idea what ethnicity each one was when I first heard the name spoken or listed on my class roster, but I still went WTF. Parents, this is not a reaction you want your kid’s name to inspire.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                Right and wrong, respectively. S’ok, you can still play in the majors. :D

            1. Bwooster*

              “but I still went WTF”

              You’re a teacher. Maybe you should have queried your own reaction a little bit before you queried the judgement of the parents? What input do kids have on how they’re named? A lot less than the input you have into your own reactions to those names that’s for sure.

              1. the gold digger*

                I query the judgment of a parent who deliberately makes up an alternative spelling for a name that already exists. What’s wrong with “Bethany” or “Mackenzie?” Why make things more complicated than they need to be?

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  And think of how many times daily or weekly you use your name. “My name is Bethany,” nobody has any trouble with. Betheneigh is going to have to say, “Except instead of Y, it’s like neighbor, n-e-i-g-h. Yes. With an H at the end.”

                2. Bwooster*

                  “I query the judgment of a parent who deliberately makes up an alternative spelling for a name that already exists. ”

                  I think you meant to reply to the person above me as I’m not sure what relevance casting aspersions on parents of the children who are the once who are subject to the judgement of their teacher have anything to do with my comment.

                3. many bells down*

                  I’ve had to spell my first name for people because they assume that since it’s so common, I probably use an alternative spelling. I’m named Jennifer. I met someone just last week whose wife is “Jennipher”. It’s like they want it to be complicated!

                4. Pommette*

                  I have had to spell my name out for people since childhood (my parents went with a “creative spelling” of my name). And I now have to do it for both my first and family names (I moved into an English-speaking area, and my name is unpronounceable/un-spellable to most native English speakers).

                  It’s really, really not a burden.

                  Once in a while it sparks a fun conversation when I wasn’t expecting one. It makes it less embarrassing for me to ask people whose names I am not familiar with for guidance on correct pronounciation. And ultimately, it reminds me of my connection to my family.

                  (I would add that at this point, there are enough spelling variants on ‘Bethany’, ‘Jennifer’, etc. in circulation that even people with what was once the “typical spelling” are going to have to spell it out on a regular basis).

                5. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

                  Not sure if you’re familiar with the show Modern Family, but your comment “why make things more complicated than they need to be?” reminded me of a scene from that show. The gay couple – Mitchell and Cameron – are in a shop owned by their gay friend Longeness. Longeness introduces them to a new employee who introduces himself as Joe. Mitchell asks “Joe? That’s it?” and the kid answers in a pretentious tone “that’s Joe, spelled J-E-A-U with a silent X” and then Mitchell acknowledges the name with a snarky “Yep, there it is.” It should be up to the person with the name to decide how complicated they want to make it, not the parent.

                  Names are important. They’re the labels we’re literally given at birth. I thought long and hard about the names I gave my two kids and while I liked unique and different, I knew that I wasn’t the one who would have to carry that name into adulthood. That’s not to say I went the boring route. My kids are the only ones with their names in all of their classes / schools but the slightly old fashioned names aren’t eyebrow raising by sound or spelling. I didn’t name then North, Rainbow or Espn nor did I name them Izahbelle, Eyevee, or JayTee.

              2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                I’m going to push back on this; the names are weird. The parents knew they were picking weird names. I think that’s bad judgment. The kids certainly don’t get any shade from me, but the parents do.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  And why do I think it’s bad judgment? Because as someone who goes by his middle name, having to correct and spell and explain one’s name gets insanely tiring. Because Betheneigh and Mykynzye will spend their entire lives having to patiently spell out their names every time they register for classes, call customer service, or sign up for a service. Because Future will spend his life saying, “No, yeah, Future. Like, Back to the. It’s my name.” while people raise their eyebrows at him. And because poor If got bullied nonstop.

                2. Gandalf the Nude*

                  I think you’re projecting an awful lot. As someone with a quite Western/English surname that I have to spell every time I give out my email address, call customer service, etc., it’s really not that big a deal. It’s part of having a name. Plenty of folks with different national origins and other cultural backgrounds have the same problem, but I hope you’d be affronted if someone suggest their parents ought to have given them a different surname in order to fit in locally.

                  And I hate this notion that we were supposed to stop making new names centuries ago. Considering how many currently popular names were originally just words in an old language, why on earth can’t we make names out of words in current language? Being different wouldn’t be nearly so hard if folks put more effort into overcoming their initial reaction to meeting someone different.

                3. Bwooster*

                  “I’m going to push back on this; the names are weird.”

                  ….? I’m not entirely sure what you mean by pushing back. Isn’t this a basic restatement of what you said before?

                  “The kids certainly don’t get any shade from me.”

                  See…I really believe you think that’s true and yet….here are your own words disputing this very assertion…

                  “I had no idea what ethnicity each one was when I first heard the name spoken or listed on my class roster, but I still went WTF. Parents, this is not a reaction you want your kid’s name to inspire.”

                  After all, if the kids get no shade, than what harm is the reaction?

                4. INFJ*

                  I can see both sides. My SO and I poke fun at how his brother and wife named their first child. (She has an unusual spelling of a common name and will always have to spell it out.) But on the other hand, he has a very common last name that I ALWAYS am asked to spell out whenever I give it. (Our pets have his last name, some domestic accounts are under his name, etc.)

                5. WellRed*

                  The book Freakonomics addresses weird names, and weird spellings of names and the impact it can have down the road. It’s fascinating.

                6. kittycritter*

                  I hear you and agree with you – I know people are going to push back on you for being “judgmental”, so I just want you to know that I, being someone with a strange first & last name that is perpetually mispronounced/misspelled, do find it quite tiring to have to pronounce and spell my name out for literally anyone I ever have any kind of dealing with where it’s necessary for them to record my name for the transaction. I *wish* that my parents had just given me a normal first name that I wouldn’t have to spell out every. single. time. People always butcher my name, and it’s so embarrassing to me!!

                7. Bartlet for President*

                  Gandalf the Nude: on the flip side, I find it endlessly annoying to constantly spell my name and/or have it written incorrectly. I have a traditionally spelled name, but it is very similar to another name that is apparently far more common (although, I’ve never met a single person with that name!). The number of times I get called the other…well, at this point I just answer to it because I’ve given up trying to correct it.

                  To make it even more fun, I’m named after a living relative. To differentiate between us, we go by First Name + Modified Middle – except, my own parents sometimes call me the other name! Iv’e gotten birthday cards (and checks) made out to the wrong name, and I think my mom calls me the wrong name at least once whenever we spend time together.

                  Basically, I’ve accepted that I have to answer to multiple versions of my name and it pisses me off.

                  [To make things even more fun, my last name was butchered by the US Military and now it sounds like it is from a group of European countries. Living in two of those countries made me nutso because I’d have to explain that no, I wasn’t from the country, and no, my family wasn’t either, and yes I know the name seems like it should be, but see the military changed the name, and there are no relatives with the name outside my immediate family.]

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Sometimes the spelling is a cultural issue. It doesn’t look like it, in this case, but there’s plenty of folks with Welsh/Irish/Gaelic names that could have anglicized their names and purposefully chose not to. Similarly, there are plenty of accepted alternative spellings for names (e.g., Ashleigh and Ashley), in part because names often don’t evolve with only one spelling.

              But how awful would it be to be told your name is spelled “wrong,” when that’s simply how your name is spelled? I think it’s really important not to imply to people that their names are somehow wrong; if they spell their name a certain way, then that’s how they spell it, and it’s the right way to spell that particular person’s name.

        3. K.*

          I’m black with a last name that is associated with a particular ethnic group that is NOT black (e.g. Fiorello or Krakowski), and I’ve gotten plenty of double-takes and insinuations that I intentionally misled interviewers with my last name. White people (in my experience it’s only white people who do this) will glance down at my left hand after I introduce myself to see if I’m married, and then look back at me in confusion when they see that hand bare. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scheduled an interview, gotten to the site and checked with the receptionist, and had them demand ID and do double takes at it when they see that yes, my last name really is what I said it was and yes, I am a woman of color.

          1. Gaia*

            I’m sorry, people insinuate that you *misled* them with your last name? Like, what, they thing you legally changed your last name (or outright lied)? They don’t realize how insane that sounds?

            1. Use My Actual Name*

              I’m a “white girl” with a white first name and a very Asian last name. My husband is third generation Asian American.

              You should see the looks when people meet me.

              What they don’t know is I am culturally white, but have a grandmother who was a registered tribal member and another great-grandfather who was the son of a slave.

              It’s amazing how white people treat me when all they know is my first name v. when they hear my full name first and expect an Asian woman.

              1. New Bee*

                I have what people assume is an Asian last name, paired with a clearly “ethnic” first name that has lots of spellings across cultures. I’m a Black woman married to a White man–not sure who people expect to see, but sometimes I can tell I’m not it.

            1. K.*

              Yep! Racism is real and everywhere. (I’ve spent my entire life in major “liberal bubble” coastal cities and I’m in my mid-30s – this isn’t Jim Crow south in the 50s stuff). In one particularly egregious case, I ratted a really nasty receptionist out to HR and ultimately opted not to continue with the hiring process. My parents (especially my father) got it all the time too, particularly as they advanced in their careers. Seeing my two black parents with “misleading” names in high-ranking positions was jarring for some white people.

              1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

                I… I’ve got nothing. That doesn’t even compute – that you should be penalized for not having a name the fits with the interviewer’s expectations of your race. That is really, really awful. I’m sorry.

              2. General Ginger*

                This is awful. I am so, so sorry this has been your AND your parents’ experience.

                (I’m sure I’m being far too generous trying to infer any sort of serious logic to this absolutely racist bull, but I can’t comprehend how these interviewers are even getting to the “misleading” conclusion. Do they seriously think that there are no POC in Western or Eastern Europe, to use the last name examples you gave? Have they also never heard of adoption? Of people historically changing their names/having their names changed upon immigration?)

                1. Nolan*

                  My partner is an Asian adoptee with a Polish surname and he gets a lot of funny looks and double takes as well, though nothing as bad as K’s experiences, afaik. I’ve always been confused by other white people’s reactions to it, all the “how did that happen”s and “where’d you get that name”s are so damn frustrating. Like, really? There’s several really common possible scenarios, and none of them are your business!

                  The only time anyone ever had a legit question was from a Kazakh friend of mine, because Kazakhstan is in central Asia and apparently his surname passes for a Kazakh one as well.

                  And then if we have kids that’ll add a whole new layer for nosy people to speculate about }:(

          2. ThatGirl*

            I realize this is not the same – but I have an unusual first name that to some people sounds black or Latin (and my (married) last name is Czech but sounds potentially Eastern European/Middle Eastern) so when people hear/see my name first and then meet me, they are often confused that I am as white as can be. This even happened with my husband’s ex-boss, a black woman who was sure I would be black too.

            1. designbot*

              My legal last name leads people to assume I’m Mexican–it’s not even actually a Mexican name, it’s a misunderstanding based on a mispelling, but everyone makes the assumption when they haven’t met me before. I still go by my maiden name at work for other reasons, but it’s super neutral (it’s pretty 50/50 whether the person with this name will turn out to be white or black), and this whole discussion is making me see what a happy accident that’s been for me. I never factored these thoughts into that decision and it sucks that other people have to.
              There’s a part of me that wishes the LW could get away with calling it out, like, “oh, I wasn’t getting a lot of success using my given name, and someone tipped me off that submitting under a nickname might work out better for me.”

                1. Gaia*

                  Eh, I actually think that is a little risky. It shouldn’t be, but especially if the bias isn’t intentional the LW risks riling up the hiring manager and ending up in a situation where there’s a lot of overt aggression.

              1. Jessica*

                That’s what I would want if she were my new hire. I’d like her to call it out even more directly, because it would be valuable feedback on our hiring practices and my unconscious bias. But I probably wouldn’t have advised LW to do that, because too dangerous. :-(

          3. moss*

            Fellow white people: part of being an anti-racist ally is not being disbelievingly astonished when someone reveals racist actions directed toward them. Yes, racism IS THAT BAD.

            Not calling anyone out specifically, it just needs to be said. Our actions as allies include believing what people of color tell us is happening to them.

              1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

                I apologize K. I do believe you. I’m appalled, and angry that I didn’t know before now that some people would sink that low.

            1. neverjaunty*

              While this is a good reminder, it’s also the case that expressions like “are you serious” and “unbelievable” are generally meant to convey shock and disbelief, not skepticism. I don’t see anyone questioning here that OP is telling the truth.

              1. moss*

                It may not be intended but since disbelief is what those responses literally convey I would just ask that responders be aware of how hurtful that is and choose different words.

                1. New Bee*

                  Yep, and it can come across as annoyingly naïve–“Gosh, I’ve never had to think about this common obstacle (because privilege)!” Congratulations?

                2. LBK*

                  I think most people who are familiar with American English understand common turns of phrase…I really don’t think most people outside of Amelia Bedelia would take a clearly incredulous phrase like “Are you serious!?” literally.

                3. Parenthetically*

                  LBK, I certainly know plenty of grammar pedants who will snippily correct someone who uses those expressions idiomatically.

              2. Lissa*

                Yeah — when Alison says “What?!?!” in her responses I never take it as skepticism, just horror/being appalled. Also, er, if somebody has never encountered this before isn’t it good they are encountering now and now realize it happens?

              3. INFJ*

                Or outrage. If anybody tells me that they were treated in a truly appalling way, I’m sorry, I’m going to be upset for that person. I’m going to say, “wow, that was awful.” What should I do? Just shrug and say, “yeah, that happens, no bd.”??

                1. moss*

                  That’s not what I said. “Wow that was awful” is not the same thing as “I can’t believe that!”

                2. hugseverycat*

                  I think it would be kind of like – if every time a person mentions having menstrual cramps, all the men in her life are like, “WHAT?? Seriously?!?!? I can’t believe you have to deal with that every month!! That’s HORRIBLE!!”

                  It might be nice the first time, but by the time she’s had a few years of periods under your belt it would get kind of old, and she might start to wonder why men don’t know this really basic fact about the approximately 50% of the world that has periods?? She might start to be like “Um, yeah, seriously. This happens all the time, why haven’t you figured it out by now? Do you even know any women?”

              4. MashaKasha*

                Yes, I’m pretty sure that “I can’t believe she did that” is a polite form of “OMG what a f-ing idiot, that’s terrible”. It’s not like people actually have trouble believing she did this.

              5. turquoisecow*

                Yeah, thanks. I believe you (and others here) 100%, but I think I’m still allowed to express my astonishment without being accused of racism.

                I’ve had issues with my name (it’s simply spelled, but not the most common), but I don’t think it’s ever denied me a job, since I’m white. I accept I have privelege. I’m not sure what you want me to do about, though.

            2. Tomato Frog*

              Similarly unhelpful: assuming that you are incapable of doing anything similar because you’re not super racist like those people. Unconscious bias is unconscious.

              1. Clinical Social Worker*

                Now I know that when I review resumes I will cover up the names of applicants first.

            3. AnonEMoose*

              This. It’s very similar to what happens when women talk about harassment (for example), and men start jumping in with “you’re exaggerating,” “not all men,” “it’s a compliment!” and so on.

              I don’t want to believe that racism is still this prevalent; it sickens me. But that doesn’t change that I NEED to hear about incidents like this. Others have to experience it; the least I can do is try to be a respectful listener, believe them, and do what I can to use what privilege I have to help where that’s possible. And use what I’m hearing to catch and examine toxic thoughts and attitudes when I see them in myself (I hate that this happens, but not acknowledging it just makes it worse in the long run).

            4. Petronella*

              “Fellow white people: part of being an anti-racist ally is not being disbelievingly astonished when someone reveals racist actions directed toward them.”

              THANK YOU for this. The gobsmacked reaction is so predictable and so tiresome.

            5. Gaia*

              I don’t see anyone saying they don’t believe it happens. I think some people are horrified and outraged and using colloquial phrasing to express that.

            6. Mrs. Batts*

              Thank you for the reminder on this. Language and expression is powerful. Even if you believe it happened, expressing shock reveals how much we as white people need to be paying more attention. Yes it’s happening, all the time and when we hear about it and react shocked, that says we’re not paying attention until it’s in our face. We have to do better.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Ugh, K, I’m so sorry. I’ve had this happen, too, and it’s amazing when interviewers suspiciously grill you about your “real” name, as if you couldn’t possibly have the name you were given. I haven’t had anyone demand ID, but I think that’s probably to do with the different racial experiences of different communities of color. I do keep track of who reacts this way, though, and I don’t accept offers from organizations like that, and if they ask why, I tell them frankly about my experience (I don’t call them racist, I just describe what happened and stick to the facts)—but I recognize this is a privileged position to occupy.

            The part I find most frustrating is when white friends don’t believe this happens (including white folks who identify as allies!), or they assume I’m over-exaggerating about how frequent this experience can be.

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              I love that you tell these companies why you are saying no to their offers. People need to be called out on this. Often.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Sadly it’s only something I can do because I’m already pretty established in my field (and again, am in a relatively privileged position). I would have never done this when I was new to the market because I was in a way more vulnerable position.

                But this is a good reminder that folks who are more senior or who do have more political heft ought to raise these issues constructively, when they can. I’ve found if it’s done compassionately and with a tenor of concern, people will listen, even if they disagree or don’t see the conduct as inherently racist.

                1. General Ginger*

                  Since you mention “people will listen even if they disagree” — would you mind me asking, have you had any strong pushback/combative/’couldn’t have been us’/etc responses?

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  @GG, I tend to work in “lefty” fields that intersect with civil rights, so there’s probably a bit of an industry skew in that respect.

                  I’ve only had one employer react really badly to my feedback, and I had one that reacted “not great,” but not necessarily terribly. The one that reacted badly, I later learned, had a notorious reputation as being a terrible workplace for women of color, with serious racism issues among the personnel (and a boss who was not willing to discipline or fire people for racially discriminatory employment conduct).

          5. VioletEMT*

            Husband gets this too. He’s East Asian, except for his paternal great-grandfather, who was white (English/Irish descent, I think). But since that’s how names are passed down, his surname is Anglo. And his parents gave him an Anglo first name. So people are really surprised to see Charles Simpson* turn out to be a Chinese-looking dude. But he’s never had anyone imply that he’s intentionally misled them about his race. Model minority privilege FTW, I guess. I’m sorry that happens to you, K.

            *Not his real name

            1. AKJ*

              A co-worker of mine was Latina, but with a very typically Irish last name. After we’d gotten to know each other, I asked her how that came about – as it turned out, her paternal great-grandfather had migrated from Ireland to Central America and settled there. She said people often assumed she was adopted or had married and changed her name, because she didn’t “look” like her name suggested she should, and they would act like they didn’t believe her when she said it was her real name.

            2. Chalupa Batman*

              I had a friend named Maria, with an unusual but not immediately ethnically identifiable last name. She’s half white, half Asian, and we grew up in an area with a large Latino population. She always took it in stride, but it was annoying to watch people try to figure out what all that was about when she introduced herself.

              For OP-it’s totally normal to say “I’m glad to get started! One thing-I go by my full name, Tashauna, professionally.” It doesn’t matter that you go by your real name personally, too. And I’m frustrated that you had to deal with this.

            3. Use My Actual Name*

              I have the opposite problem. I’m white, but my name is something like “Megan Nakamura.”

              Everyone who gets my name before meeting me assumes I’m Asian and always do a double-take when them meet me.

              I took my husband’s last name b/c my family of origin is horrible and my husband’s father was an honorable, heroic man. He welcomed me into his family.

              Amazingly, I never have this issue when meeting other persons with Asian last names. They know there are a lot of whites who have married in and don’t assume that the last name and ethnicity are identical.

          6. Golden Lioness*

            That is awful. I am sorry you had to go through that.

            I am a white latina with auburn-red hair and have a name that doesn’t match the image or the latina part (It was worse when I was blonde). People ask me what’s my maiden name all the time, too. They typically assume I must be Russian, French or Italian, then they do a double take when they see my name.

            My last name is also rare and difficult to pronounce for Americans, so it becomes a “conversation piece”.

            1. Use My Actual Name*

              I recently had a trial where we had a witness who was a mix of Irish and Mexican. His name honored the Mexican father who died before he was born (a soldier) and the Irish grandfather who raised him like a son.

              His name was the equivalent of Patrick Jose O’Flannagan Diaz.

              This is the glorious world we live in. People want to reduce it to simple boxes. But real people live real lives and don’t fit into neat patterns.

              1. Golden Lioness*

                And even though I am sure some people look at that and struggle, I actually think that is awesome! I also think it’s a glorious global world. My grandparents are from 3 different parts of the world, so I really do have a little bit of everything mixed in. I have been lucky that most people have found it interesting, but I have had to deal with a few instances of discrimination, mostly based on my accent.

                My own name has that kind of discrepancy too. My given name is very common in both latin countries UK/US with the same spelling, so it blends either way (think Laura or Sara), and my last name is ambiguous and to some people sounds French, to some Spanish and to others Easter European… and it’s none of those things!

          7. A Teacher*

            Yeah, I’m already getting my comments because my kid is African American and I’m white. She will have adoption finalized next year and she has a unique spelling of her first name from her bio mom but my last name is about as Scandinavian as it goes. She gets weird looks when she tells people what her last name will be. A friend’s mom said “but that’s so white,” and she’s in first grade.

            1. K.*

              I say frequently that I’ve been getting strange looks and comments about my last name “since I was old enough to notice.”

            2. Golden Lioness*

              I think that’s so sad. I have heard of people in interracial marriages with their biological kids and people assuming they are the nanny because they don’t look exactly like their kids.

              1. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

                A close friend of mine is married to a very dark skinned African American man. She’s an extremely pale white woman with red hair. Their kids are lighter skinned than their father but darker than she is. Both of them have said that when they’re out alone with the kids they have been asked who the kids belong to. Since she’s a stay at home mom she gets it more often. Recently someone asked her if she was the nanny. FWIW – the kids look like both parents when it comes to features. Her daughter is now a teen and literally looks just like her mom – barring the hair color (my friend has red, curly hair and her daughter has dark, curly hair) and skin color (my friend has skin the color of a gallon of milk and her daughter is more cafe au lait). Everything else is identical and yet people never assume they’re related. It drives ME crazy so I cannot even begin to imagine what it’s like for the four of them…to have someone question who you are in your kids life? GRRRRRR!

            3. Kate the Purple*

              Ugh. I deal with a version of this a lot. I’m a first generation Asian-American, with a very obviously Asian last name, and a “white” first and middle name. Whenever someone finds out my middle name, I get a shocked/puzzled exclamation of “but your names are so white!”

              I’ve taken to not responding at all, and letting them fill the awkward silence.

              Some follow up by asking what my Asian name is, which is then followed by a look of surprise when they find out I don’t have one. If I happen to know the other person’s ethnic background, I’ll usually respond with, “Well, what’s your Irish/French/German name?”

          8. Meg*

            I intentionally did not take my ex-husband’s last name when we married because I knew it would be loaded with unconscious bias. I am a white lady, but his last name was “ethnic” and white folks just can’t pronounce it (though you call customer service and get sent to the Philippines and they get it right every time). That probably makes me a bad person, but I didn’t want to fight that battle.

          9. Rachael*

            I’m white and I married a Vietnamese man. That combination is starting to grow in my city, but generally it is very rare. So, as you can guess, I am a white woman with a common Asian last name.

            Asian and white people give me the most grief about my name. When I am out shopping, Asian cashiers have gone as far as getting a manager to “ask what to do” because they don’t think I’m using my own card. I had to get a manager involved at my bank when I was first married because the Asian teller refused to let me deposit a check made out in my maiden name to my new checking account with my husband. He kept on asking me how I “know them”. (Even though I had my marriage certificate ready).

            And you are right. White people are the worst. When I was interviewing with my married name I had to show my ID to prove who I was and got suspicious looks. It was ridiculous. Like, why would I try and steal someone’s interview time?

            I get A LOT of questions about adoption and people asking about China when I go out with my children (from white people). People in Seattle feel the need to show how multicultural they are by “accepting” my child and it just makes me feel that they are being condescending. …..No, my child did not speak Chinese to you. She speaks English.

            Before I married a minority I was blind to these things and even now I don’t even experience it at a fraction of the level of people of color. So I guess what I’m trying to say is….it sucks. I’m sorry it happens to you regularly.

        4. User Experience Researcher*

          It’s about both race and iffy class bias associations with certain names. They’re difficult to separate sociologically.

    3. Sadsack*

      Exactly right, no one will probably think twice. I work with a woman who is near retirement age. She went by her nickname for many years, decades really. Let’s say it is Donnie, short for Donatella. A couple of years ago, she decided that she prefers to go by her full name, Donatella. She uses her full name when speaking with new people, although she’s used to having people here who have known her for years still call her Donnie. OP is just starting at this company, so she can start with her real full name right away and no one would know the difference. Just say that Shauna was a nickname for a long time, but you prefer your full name now. Just say it matter-of-factly and there should be no awkwardness. Anyone who is surprised by this will get over it quickly. I am sorry that you experienced this, and I wish you well in your new job.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        Yeah, we have a family friend who went from Betsy to Elizabeth in her 50’s. My mom is polite and calls her Elizabeth in emails or whatever, but my dad is more absent minded, and when we refer to her amongst ourselves we all still say Betsy.

    4. Huddled over tea*

      I wouldn’t worry about it! I go by a westernised name (though in my case, it’s because I do actually socially go by a westernised name) and whenever I accept an offer, I just send off a quick email to my contact or HR or whatever saying ‘By the way, just to let you know that I need to have (this name) on any legal documents’. It’s never been a problem!

      1. Working Mom*

        I agree, as a hiring manager I would not bat an eye at this. OP, I’m sorry this happened. I agree though, take the job and move forward without worrying about the name difference.

        1. NonProfit Nancy*

          Yeah, but how do you then tell them that you’re not going to go by the name you applied under? That’s the part that’s a little weird for me. I wouldn’t think it was at all odd to hear someone say, “oh, I go by Wendy but my legal name is Wen Tieng,” but I would think it odd if someone said “I applied and interviewed as Wendy but I actually want you to all call me Wen Tieng.” I would absolutely respect the applicants’ choice and it wouldn’t be a withdrawn offer consideration, but I’d notice it and think it was a little strange.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I actually don’t think it’s weird at all—I’ve had this happen often at a variety of different workplaces.

            I’ve had applicants say that they use a Westernized name for the interviewer’s ease, but that with people they know on an ongoing basis (e.g., work colleagues), they prefer to go by [real name]. Because that explanation tends to jive with the experiences of English-only speakers, it tends to go over easily, particularly if you have a name with sounds that English-only speakers find difficult to pronounce (like the X’s in Chinese, the “gh” in Farsi and Arabic, the X in Xhosa, nearly any Irish name, or even, frankly, any Spanish name said in Spanish pronunciation).

            Given how often people butcher non-traditionally-Anglo-Saxon names, this explanation goes over pretty easily and tends not to raise eyebrows.

            1. Pebbles*

              Agree with this. I have a few friends from India whose names are really long (compared to Western names) and coworkers from Poland that have a ton of diacritics in their name. They all have a shortened form of their name or a Westernized nickname that they use for interviews and English-speakers’ ease. Thankfully they’ve all been very forgiving when they hear their real name being butchered.

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                I agree it’s an analogous situation, but I think it is touchier when the name in question is unusual or difficult to pronounce because it belongs to someone who isn’t from America and whose native language isn’t English, rather than because it’s racially, ethnically/culturally marked within the broad context of American native English speakers.

              2. Elizabeth H.*

                (I mis-edited my sentence – should have said touchier when the name in question ISN’T from a non English language etc.)

          2. Natalie*

            I think my preferred approach would be to just matter-of-factly ask for what I wanted and basically hope no one noticed, or hope they would be too embarrassed to say anything if they did notice. But I like avoidance as a strategy which is not everyone’s preference.

          3. OhNo*

            That’s pretty easy, actually! I’m trans, and I did exactly this when I interviewed for my most recent job. All application materials, references, interview, etc. was under my legal, female name. Then, just before I started, I sent an email to my soon-to-be boss saying, “I actually prefer to go by [male name], and would like to use that wherever possible.” She spread the word to my coworkers, and arranged for my nameplate, etc. to have the correct name.

            If you do it before they start entering information into their system, it cuts a lot of the fuss out.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yeah, there’s no reason it should be a big deal at all. A casual statement that she’s decided to use her legal name at work should not* be met with any kind of weirdness.

              *I mean, you know never how some white people will react to innocuous things, but it is not something that would usually be seen as unusual or a problem.

            2. General Ginger*

              I am so nervous about having to do this in the very, very near future! I am so glad you had a good experience!

              1. OhNo*

                If you ever need help, suggestions, or even just a cheering section, let me know! I was really scared to do it myself, but having some support – even from random internet strangers – really made a difference for me.

                1. General Ginger*

                  Thank you so much! That is always appreciated. TBH, without the kindness and insight of “random internet strangers”, I am not sure if I would be here right now. I’d for certain still be closeted and hurting.

    5. Angelinha*

      Does it change anything that they might realize they have two sets of application materials from her? She says she applied to the same company with her full legal name before applying as Shauna. (OP, I think you should take the job either way! Just wondering if this might be where some of your concern is coming from.)

      1. aebhel*

        That was what I was thinking. Even so, I can’t imagine that they would be checking a new hire’s information against application materials from a candidate they didn’t even call back for an interview (and even if they did, it’s not like applying twice to the same company is particularly nefarious; if the OP had fudged her resume, that would be one thing, but going by a nickname isn’t fudging her resume by any stretch of the imagination).

        That said, I’ve never worked anywhere big enough to have a dedicated HR, so I could be wrong here.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq*

          I worked in a pseudo-HR capacity in hiring, and I can tell you that the odds anyone will even notice are slight. And if they do notice and raise the question, all you have to say is 1) the truth, which is that the only difference is your name and you figured you’d get more callbacks by using a whiter-sounding name, which should immediately shut down any talk of fudging, or 2) “Oh, I forgot I already applied here! ooops.”

      2. Gaia*

        At worse, as long as nothing else was different (in that they are not led to believe the second set misled them regarding OP’s qualifications, etc) I think the ‘worst’ that might come of this is they make openly question why they rejected the first application and offered her the job the second time. And that is something they *should* be questioning.

        1. IowaGirl*

          Seriously. If this happened where I work there would absolutely be discussions about bias in our hiring practices and how to eliminate them.

      3. Whats In A Name*

        I would think that as long as the prior application didn’t lead to an interview that it wouldn’t be an issue. We’ve often brought in candidates when their application hasn’t shown a fit in the past – even when hiring for the same positions or position type.

        Sometimes there’s a tweak that past experience might make them a better fit for in one opening vs. another, or the candidate pool is different this time around, etc.

        In the case where this is the same type of position it was normally something like accounts they would be handling or editorial they would be writing – same basic responsibilities and job description but some nuances lent to a different skill set if that makes sense.

      4. LBK*

        If the system didn’t automatically flag it as a potential duplicate, I can’t imagine anyone’s doing that kind of comparison manually. The only way I could maybe see it coming up is if they decide to go back through applications they initially passed over to pull more candidates into the pool, but I don’t think that happens very often – usually if the first batch of interviews is only so-so, hiring managers look for new applicants rather than going back through old ones.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It shouldn’t change anything, except to put the company on notice that their own hiring practices may exhibit implicit/explicit bias. If they have two identical (or near identical) resumes, and they didn’t hire OP under her previous resume, that’s more of a legal concern for them because it supports the idea that they racially discriminate in hiring. That’s a problem for employer, but not for OP.

        1. Natalie*

          Not only didn’t hire, they didn’t even pass her along for an interview. For that level, presumably the only difference between the two applications is the name.

      6. Golden Lioness*

        Since it was for 2 different postings, and since she was offered a job the second time, we also need to entertain the possibility that she may have had steeper competition the 1st time around.

        Not saying that discrimination based on certain names doesn’t exist, that’s well documented, but this company seems to be OK, based on OP getting the offer.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          I can’t tell which comment you’re replying to, so I don’t know what you mean by “seems to be ok.” The fact that they offered her the job might mean that they aren’t racist in the obvious, old-school “we don’t hire minorities” kind of way, but that doesn’t in any way negate the very real possibility that there was implicit bias going on the first time. You’re right, we can’t know that’s what the issue was the first time around. But we also can’t rule it out just from the fact that she got an offer.

          1. Golden Lioness*

            Unfortunately, even though I offered the alternative possibility., I still believe the most likely explanation is bias based on her name. It’s a shame that bias still happens, or that I ever happened for that matter.

            “seems to be OK” was a shortcut. I meant that if they were going to discriminate, they would not have made her an offer even if they called her for an interview.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      OP, they shouldn’t yank the offer, and as Dan said, you’re in a legally superior position to them on this. If you like the organization, I’d do some due diligence and consider accepting the offer. The best case is that they have implicit biases in hiring (which is a problem, but a problem that can be worked on), and the worst case is that they’re bigots. Doing due diligence will help you figure out which end of the spectrum they may be on as an employer.

      I also wanted to note that people use nicknames on their resumes literally all the time, so you shouldn’t feel like you were disingenuous. For example, in the academy and in law, it’s common for women (of all races) to shorten their names to sound gender neutral or even traditionally male. For example, Martha becomes Marty, Eugenia becomes Gene, Gillian becomes Gil, etc. And many times, those names are not the “real names” those women go by in everyday conversation, and no one bats an eye.

      What sucks, here, is not that you “whitened” your name, but that we live in a society where people with “non-white” names experience bias in hiring.

    7. TootsNYC*

      Also–if the person who interviewed you was surprised by your race, they may be self-aware enough to realize that this was a tactic you needed to get past the filter. If a new hire said to me, “I know I put Joe on my résumé, but I prefer to go by Jose in person,” I’d say, “Oh, yeah, that’s a thing in the world, isn’t it; I’m sorry you had to do that.”

    8. Slacker Mom*

      It’s not the same exact situation but it might help…I go by my middle name. My full legal name is listed on my resume, as is required/norm for my current field. When I have started jobs, I always let them know that. Would you be comfortable saying, “My first name is actually ____. I prefer to use that,” or something like, “Shauna is actually a nickname. I prefer to go by my full name, ____.”

      Good luck! I am sure you have a beautiful name.

    9. Tequila Mockingbird*

      Many years ago I had an Asian-American colleague who said that she, too, was unemployed for years, and got no bites on her resume when her last name was “Nguyen.” But then she got married, and the name on her resume became “Fitzpatrick,” and she got TONS of responses and offers to interview.

      I hate this planet sometimes!

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I think if you like the job, take the job. When you start work, you just calmly tell people which name you prefer to go by. The people you will work with are not HR anyway. It’s not uncommon.

      But it does suck about the resume and callbacks. Sigh! You’d think people would get past that by now.

  2. dragonzflame*

    I feel ya, #4. I was exactly the same with my wedding four years ago- I was looking forward to it, but not in the way that I feel like you’re ‘supposed’ to. I’m now 18 weeks pregnant, and feeling the exact same way about it. I find wedding talk (and pregnancy talk) excruciatingly boring and a little invasive.

    Sometimes you have no choice but to play the game, but I found that if I was non-committal enough and didn’t go into too much detail, people didn’t get a lot out of the conversation and gave up. Also, if challenged, I just shrugged and said,’eh, I just see it as an excuse for a really good party.’ Nobody gets to question how you feel about your own life milestones.

    1. Kheldarson*

      I had the easy excuse of “my mom’s planning it. So I don’t really care.” Which drove mom and my MOH insane, but I really didn’t! Hubs and I were marrying because we wanted to be all nice and legal, and if I weren’t Catholic, a ceremony with a justice would’ve been fine.

      Some people just really don’t understand the non-excitement folks.

      1. aebhel*

        Yeah, that was me. So many people were so immensely frustrated because I really didn’t care about any of the minutiae. Ended up getting married in my parents’ backyard, wearing jeans. It was perfectly fine.

      2. EddieSherbert*

        Yes! This is 100% me. I’d be happy just going to the courthouse but everyone one else wants a big to-do.

        My parents are divorced and remarried to wonderful people I love – and I always just tell people that my mom and stepmom are planning it all “because having two moms has to have some advantage.”

      3. Becky*

        If I ever end up getting married I am looking forward to the fact that in my religion the ceremony is minimal and closed. The reception is the big to-do in my religion, not the wedding, and I don’t have to do one if I don’t want.

    2. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m the master of projecting an air of “*shrug* I don’t care that much” by sometimes literally saying that, sometimes just giving really boring answers in a really bored tone. The usual reaction to that is “OH WOW REALLY I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT HOW UNUSUAL!” the first time but weirdly, after that, people seem to be awfully proud of themselves for remembering this about me and as soon as they catch themselves starting The Topic again, they go “Oh no, wait, I know you aren’t interested in this, right?”.

      1. Meddling Little Belgian*

        I have the opposite problem – we have been together so long that our engagement was a forgone conclusion. No one has asked me even one question about wedding plans or dates. We have the same issue in my large extended family with most milestone events because we are the youngest cousins, and thus the last ones to graduate, marry, have children, etc…bit of a let down. If only there were a way we could swap! :)

        1. Whats In A Name*

          In my family it’s the middle kids who got lost.

          I am the oldest – we are going through the cycle with the youngest grandkids/kids/cousins now and we both got the best end of the deal…because I was “FIRST to graduate college!” “FIRST to get my masters (in the entire family actually)” “FIRST to turn 30!” “FIRST to buy a house!”…..

          The youngest graduated high school last year (20 years my junior) and it was the biggest family reunion we’ve ever had because…”THIS IS THE LAST ONE!!!!” I imagine her college graduation, wedding, etc. will be the same.

          The poor 6 grands/cousins in the middle never know who is going to show up for them, it’s really kinda a crap shoot. They are the ones I feel the worst for.

      2. OP 4*

        Yupp, we are having the big wedding to please the family, but I would have been fine with a courthouse or a “destination elopement”. I started this job after getting engaged, and feel like somehow, at work, it’s become my defining characteristic, and because I sit next to someone who literally started today’s conversation talking about veils, it’s hard not to feel like it’s taken over! I really do try to stay non-committal and disinterested, but I have been told a couple times I’m being weird for not wanting to talk about what shoes I’m wearing.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          Wow – how much is there to talk about about veils? The mind boggles. (When I got engaged, my cube neighbor heard me on the phone telling my mom that Uncle Vixen had proposed, congratulated me, and asked to see the ring, and that was the end of that. She and I were Not Ideal Coworkers in most other ways, but in that respect she got it exactly right.)

          1. OP 4*

            I wish people just reacted like that! Even asking to see the ring is a bit too much for me :P

            And you’d be quite surprised at how much there is to talk about veils. She owns three, and I know what they look like in extreme detail by now…

            1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

              Ok, I’m fully in the “everybody’s got a hobby” camp, which is why my work conversations cover the spectrum from basketball to LoL to sushi, but that sounds plain exhausting for all but the most invested of brides.

              Three of a single-use item? Just no, thank you.

            2. Aunt Vixen*

              I think “ooh let’s see the ring” is okay once from people who knew you before you were engaged. In your case, the ring was already there when they met you, so anything more than “wow, your ring is beautiful” if they happen to notice it is too much. (NB this would be true of any clothing or accessory item. “Neat glasses!” Whatever.)

              :-)

            3. Mirax*

              Is she even going to be able to use three? Will she duck away to change between stages of the ceremony/reception? I admit I frequently change for dinner, but I’ve never slipped out to change mid-party!

        2. Kathleen Adams*

          Nah, not weird. A bit different, sure, but no matter what anybody tells you, it’s perfectly normal to be a woman who is both pleased to be getting married while at the same time not enthralled with planning a wedding.

          I’ve been married nearly 30 years, and I assure you that it’s *not* the most important day of your life. It’s not even close. You’re going to have many days that are far more important than this one.

          In my case, neither my mother nor I are all that into weddings, but…you know, we muddled through, and it was fine. In fact it was very nice, I thought, but this was back in the days when having a low-key wedding wasn’t considered as odd as it apparently is now.

          Your coworkers will get over it, and in fact I know that some of them already are over it. There are people you work with who are thrilled that you don’t want to yammer on about your wedding all the time. I promise.

          But here’s some advice: Make sure the shoes are comfortable! Otherwise, you’ll end the day not giving a damn about your veil because your feet feel as though they’re bleeding. :-)

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Yep. Married 10 years, and I was pretty young (21) and I WISH I’d had more of a hand in planning it. For lots of reasons, I just couldn’t plan anything and was bitter about it for a long time. Eventually I got over it, and now I just can’t be bothered about other peoples’ weddings (not marriages…weddings). If I’m invited, I attend congratulate and live my life.

            You are so right–it’s one day, but there are so many many more important, even happier days to come (

          2. OP 4*

            Good to know I’m not the only one! I am SO excited to be married. But the wedding – meh.

            I am just struggling with my perception at work (it’s not really where I want to be, but I recognize it’s a good stepping stone, as a recent grad). We sit in a public area and whenever anyone walks by, there is really only wedding chat going on (from her) and I hate being perceived as a “wedding” girl, because I feel I’m now looped into that perception.

            Good advice on the shoes! :)

            1. Lemon Zinger*

              It’s great that you’re aware of the perception. A woman in my office has been engaged for several months (the wedding isn’t until October) and ALL she talks about is the wedding because it’s going to be huge– 14 attendants, at a fancy hotel, paid for by her wealthy parents, etc.

              I get that it’s a massive undertaking, but she’s high-ranking in our office, and where previously she was only known for her great work, now she’s “Lucy, who’s getting married in October.”

          3. JustaTech*

            Oh, and no stud earring! Everyone will be hugging you and every time they do it will drive the back of your earring into your neck.

            I didn’t talk about my wedding much at all at work because two of my coworkers were very recent;y divorced and I was trying to be sensitive. Then they were all disappointed I hadn’t shared my wedding photos! (So I did.)

        3. Purest Green*

          I didn’t have a wedding because I didn’t want to deal with all the work and hassle of planning the damn thing. So many people didn’t understand that, but I kept insisting that a ceremony is not a legally binding requirement for marriage nor does it affect how much you love your partner.

          1. hayling*

            We eloped at the courthouse with just my husband’s sister, her boyfriend, and photographer. Best decision ever. A few people knew ahead of time (including my team, who were sworn to secrecy), but it was a surprise for the general public. I didn’t have to deal with any drama, it was a super fun day, I have beautiful pictures, and we saved a ton of money.

          2. HRChick*

            I got married at the court house on my lunch hour, then went back to work. I don’t blame anyone who loves the big party and dresses and all that, but it makes me really uncomfortable being the center of attention for very long. To me, being married was important but a wedding would have been a trial.

        4. Chelsea*

          Happened to me too. I just didn’t care about the small details of my wedding and people thought it was so strange. But I consider myself a no-frills kind of person and that’s just the way I am.

        5. animaniactoo*

          “I think it’s weird that you’re so interested!”

          and “Okay, I’m weird. Can we drop it now?” Just own that weirdness. Totally blasé and moving right along. In part, I prefer this method because it helps increase the number of “weird” people until it becomes “wait, actually, this isn’t so weird – a lot of people seem to be saying this, so it must not be that weird”.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Meant to say, it also frees you from the need to defend that it’s not weird or that it’s okay to not want to talk about your wedding so much, or anything else. “You need me to be weird for that to be okay by you? Fine, I’m weird. Moving on…”

        6. Turtle Candle*

          I feel your pain, OP4. In my case, I wanted to elope, but my partner wanted a wedding. I agreed to the wedding as having one was more important to him than not having one was to me, but with the caveat that he was going to have to take on the lion’s share of the planning (I really didn’t want to fall into the trap of doing it because he wanted it and then being stuck with most of the work because of social expectations of “the bride” vs. “the groom”).

          He was very good about doing most of the planning and work. The problem was that everyone else still assumed that as “the bride,” I would want to talk about it at length. It was worst when it was wedding professionals (none of them seemed to believe that he could possibly care more about flowers or lighting than I did! people would actually keep directing questions and information to me even when expressly told that he would be the one handling it) but it also got awkward in social situations, where everyone was trying to be nice but really the last thing I wanted to do was to talk about the wedding even more.

          My strategy (which I will tell you right up front only partially worked, but it did help some) was that with people I was close to/comfortable with, I was right up front: “Mr. Turtle’s actually doing pretty much all the planning, partly because weddings stress me out.” With people where I didn’t know as well, something like “Oh gosh, I feel like my life is all wedding all the time right now–I’d love to talk about something else for a change!” followed by an immediate deflection like “How’s little Cuthbert’s rice sculpture class going?” helped.

          In the end, I consoled myself that at least the problem was limited in time. Once the wedding was over, I got “How was the wedding?” questions for about a week, and then it became old news and everybody moved on.

        7. Notorious MCG*

          Dude, I planned my wedding *specifically* to be as low maintenance as possible. Decorations? It’s at an art gallery, don’t need ’em. Food? I want fried chicken, supply sides as needed. Flowers? Send the bridesmaids to Trader Joe’s the day before and let them bond while arranging their own bouquets. Booze? I want liquor, everyone else can make do with wine and beer.

          That’s it, that’s the end, thanksverymuch! And it was a hella fun party.

    3. SometimesALurker*

      Right here with you! I’m very much looking forward to my wedding, maybe in the way I’m “supposed” to, and I’m excited about talking wedding planning details with a few friends. At the same time, I don’t care about a lot of the things that some of my coworkers care about with regards to weddings, and I also really hate the gender double-standard and the way that people treat it like it’s a bigger life milestone, than, oh, my graduate degree. I’m lucky in that my coworkers are receptive to my disinterest. My main lines have been, “You know, it’s small enough that it’s really mostly already planned,” and “You know, I’m finding that what they call wedding planning is mostly a lot of shopping, and since that’s not my thing it’s kind of a chore!” Granted, I’m in a decent work environment where a woman saying she doesn’t like shopping doesn’t cause any pearl-clutching.

      1. OP 4*

        Yeah, I’ve argued the graduate degree thing with my mother once or twice. To me, my Masters took more than a year of work, involved an international move for both my fiance and myself, my final dissertation took months, and to do my research I walked a 100-mile path solo interviewing strangers along the way. That was a HUGE personal accomplishment and I got a vague congratulations from my parents and literally no reaction from anyone else. But my wedding is treated as a much bigger “accomplishment” by everyone and it drives me nuts.

        I work in a team of assistants who support multiple faculty members at a pretty well-known university in Canada… it’s my assistant team who love weddings. The reactions I get from the faculty are pretty great, actually, as I don’t think they care nor see marriage as an end game. It’s a pretty big culture difference between the two groups of people.

        1. mamabear*

          OP 4, that sucks. For whatever it’s worth, I think your priorities are exactly right. Marriage is a wonderful milestone, but it’s not an accomplishment! Sheesh.

        2. twig*

          Congratulations on your Masters! That sounds like a lot of work.

          Wedding/shmedding — The wedding is not important, the Marriage is.

      2. mf*

        “I also really hate the gender double-standard and the way that people treat it like it’s a bigger life milestone, than, oh, my graduate degree.”

        So much this. I graduated with my MA two weeks before I got married. Nobody cared about my degree (well, my parents and now-husband did, but nobody else) and all anybody congratulated me on was my wedding. It was really disappointing because finishing my grad degree was MUCH more work than getting married and, in my eyes, actually accomplishment.

    4. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      I eloped, or told key people “I’m eloping at this time on this date with this JP” so if the wanted to show up for support, cool, if not, I was still getting hitched. Solved all sorts of problems in describing my wedding to others. Then again, that solution is not for everyone, but my husband and I are really low-key and didn’t want a big wedding, we more preferred the picnic party mindset.

    5. NK*

      I was excited about my wedding and pregnancy and didn’t mind talking about it, but I also found that there’s just not all that much to be said about it! I’m not a detailed party planner, so I wasn’t all obsessed with the details, and once the major vendors were chosen for the wedding there were several months where nothing was going on. And as for the pregnancy, it’s pretty much the same conversation over and over: first one, due in July, it’s a boy, feeling good, yep we’re excited!

    6. Kimberlee, Esq*

      I vote that we move wedding talk into the category we’re all trying to move pregnancy talk into, which is that the pregnant person has to bring it up first. I didn’t used to think much of any of it, until I had some good friends who were getting married but their plans kept changing and then like 2 months later they had a big, messy breakup. They’d been having a hard time settling on plans because one of them was never fully convinced she wanted to do it in the first place :/ If the people getting married are excited to talk about it, by all means! I love frilly dresses! But tbh if they’re not excited to talk about, there’s no way to predict why (either OP’s reasons, or the above breakup reasons, or maybe their dad recently died and the person is bummed that they won’t get walked down the aisle by a beloved parent, whatever), and ultimately it doesn’t matter.

      1. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

        I second that vote!!!!

        I didn’t talk much about the wedding until the week of when I had some minor family drama flare up about the seating arrangement while I was working. – I know, I was surprised too! Some people really do care where they sit at a wedding reception. Who knew? – My reasons for keeping mum involved the guest list. I didn’t want people at work to assume they were invited because I wouldn’t shut up about the planning. So I shut up about the planning, they didn’t assume, and aside from hysterically crying at my desk for 20 minutes because my grandmother wanted the entire seating arrangement switched – two days before the wedding! – there was only an occasional conversation about it.

        And I echo everyone who says that the wedding is just one day. It was one day. A good day, yes, but not the best my marriage has offered me. LW – enjoy your day…and much happiness to you in the years to come!

    7. nutbrownrose*

      I used to think I would be way excited to talk wedding all the time (and I was, at first), but the closer we get the less I have to say because what’s in my head is “OMG it’s February and the wedding’s in July and why does FH have such a big problem with deadlines and decisions and we don’t have an officiant or groomsmen or flowers or invitations and we’ve been engaged since Sept of 15 OMG”, and you know, that’s really not stuff you can blurt. So “oh, it’s going well, not much is happening.”
      Imaginary/other people’s weddings are much more fun to plan, turns out. Real wedding planning involves family dynamics and money, both in unusually large amounts.

  3. HannahS*

    OP#2, I’m really sorry. That must feel just awful. I think that Alison is right in saying that they won’t take the job away upon finding out your real name, and you should definitely be called what you want to be called.

    1. Artemesia*

      I think you can easily say, ‘oh, Shauna is my nickname, I’d like to use my full name in my official paperwork.’ And when you are introduced to colleagues, it is ‘I’ve decided to use my full name rather than my nickname professionally (or ‘at work’ if that fit better). And yes this is another sad example of how much racism there is embedded in our business culture. I am always astonished at white people who seem unaware that DWB happens excruciatingly often to black men or finding apartments ‘mysteriously ‘already rented’ when a black couple inquires is common or as in your case the Darnells and Shaniquas don’t get interviews.

      1. Gaia*

        More than people who are shocked this happens, I’m always amazed at the justifications people make for doing this. No, no, they aren’t *racist* because it isn’t about *black people!* Gosh, no! It is about [insert stereotype that clearly only ever occurs in black people with ‘ethnic’ sounding names]. Totally different, you see?

        1. OhNo*

          You know, I’ve been noticing that more the past couple of years, since someone pointed out how racially coded some words are (thug, immigrant, etc.). It’s pretty obvious to me when my family and friends do it, but now I’m wondering if it’s been happening at work, too, only they’re just using words that I don’t recognize as racially coded.

          1. Pebbles*

            I try to push back on the immigrant one since I’m an American, but I’m not Native American, therefore I’m an immigrant (a few generations removed). I even go so far as to describe how my paternal great-grandfather came over from Norway with his wife and the first 4 of ultimately 7 kids, where they lived and what they did. My hope is that if people share their own immigration histories with each other it becomes less of a “taboo” of being an immigrant? (Not sure if that’s expressed well.)

            1. seejay*

              I’ve been using the word immigrant to describe myself now because it’s what I am and yeah, I want it to be less of a “bad word” in the US. When someone opens their mouth and starts saying stupid shit about “immigrants” to me, I stop them and say “you know, I’m an immigrant, right??” It’s usually met with stunned silence. “Oh wait… you mean you’re only mad about *brown* immigrants? Just say it outright then… you’re racist. You obviously are ok about me being an immigrant because I’m white and I’m from a safe country right? Ok, go away now.”

              It usually gets people stammering and sputtering and shutting up pretty quick. I have no tolerance for stupid at this point now.

              1. Pebbles*

                Ah yes, but white immigrants are hard workers and want to assimilate, whereas brown immigrants are lazy, stick only to themselves, don’t bother to learn English, and otherwise want to see our country fail/become whatever country they came from. I have actually heard this “argument” and….FLAMES. Rage doesn’t even start to describe how I felt.

                1. seejay*

                  Yeah I pretty much hear “oh but you’re not one of of *those* kind of immigrants” once the figure out I’m not kidding when they find out I’m not American.

                  For serious??

                  GTFO of my face. Just admit you’re racist instead of trying to backpeddle or pad it into something else, I’ll just go on ignoring you as the footnote in history you need to be.

                  I don’t want to say it baffles me, because at this point, overt or even casual racism doesn’t, but the way some people blatantly think other strangers are right on board with it, while barely knowing *anything* about them just confuses the hell out of me. Opening your mouth up to a stranger to start spouting a racially-loaded or immigrant-negative view, you have no idea how deep you’re going to be choking on that foot, even if the person you’re talking to is white.

            2. Becky*

              When I was a kid (late 80’s early 90’s) I was encouraged to talk about immigrant ancestors, and (as far as I was aware) there was no taboo around it. It might have just been me not seeing it, or it might have been my area.

              I mean most of my ancestors came from England, but they were still immigrants. On one line they go back to the Mayflower, on another my grandfather was born in the UK and immigrated with his family when he was 2 years old.

          2. Tau*

            Immigrant’s a fun one. I’m German and have been living in the UK for ten years, and for years I thought of myself as an ex-pat. Then UKIP came onto the scene and anti-EU sentiment grew and Brexit happened and suddenly it was “EU immigrants” from all sides all the time. Although it’s still the case that a lot of people seem to think that only Eastern Europeans working minimum wage jobs count as EU immigrants (oh, the coworker who was astonished at the very idea that I might have any sort of issues or anything would change for me due to Brexit…), but the term is now a lot closer to hand than it used to be. I guess I got demoted?

              1. Tau*

                Yeah – to be clear, I realised how horrifically racist/classist/otherwise -ist the whole “immigrant” vs “ex-pat” distinction is some years before this started happening, started calling myself an immigrant and used to quite enjoy people’s shocked faces when I did that as they were confronted with their assumptions. And then the shocked faces became rarer and rarer…

                I’m still on the extremely privileged end as immigrants go, of course, but there’s been a definite slide downwards in people’s estimation of immigrants like me over the last few years that has been, ah, interesting to watch. Although I think I might want to start watching it from further away. (Also interesting: in all the post-Brexit discussions I have not once seen Brits in other EU countries be referred to as immigrants. Not once.)

                1. Pebbles*

                  That’s something that I noticed and always wondered about over on this side of the pond. I never saw or read any comments about what might happen to Brits who worked outside the UK. It was just assumed I think on Brexit that every EU country would never have any problem with a Brit working for them, it’s perfectly acceptable for any Brit to go wherever they wished, yet it is/was such a problem to have EU “foreigners” working and living in the UK? I don’t know, as I said, I’m a bit removed from what’s going on on your side of the pond.

                  And now I’m looking at recent events in my own country…*sigh*

              2. hayling*

                That is so interesting! Never thought about it that way (although I rarely use the word expat, tbh).

            1. Pebbles*

              At what point do immigrants stop being immigrants? If you were born in another country and by the time you were 1 month old your parents had brought you to another country you’re still going to be an immigrant even though you’ve only known your “home” country. Conversely, how many generations removed do you have to be before you can be “from” a particular country?

              This is why I push back at stereotypes of immigrants. Countries are made up constructs anyhow and we’re all just people looking to better our situation in life from wherever we started from: socially, economically, and/or geographically.

              1. Gaia*

                To my mind, an immigrant is always an immigrant. I was born in this country and, yet, I am an immigrant. Why?

                My mother’s paternal grandfather was an immigrant from Italy. That makes my maternal grandfather and my mother immigrants and therefore me. My mother’s maternal great grandfather was an immigrant from Norway. That makes my maternal great grandfather and my maternal grandmother immigrants and, therefore me. Now, my mother’s paternal grandmother’s family lineage goes all the way back to the 1630s in Boston Colony as does my mother’s maternal grandmother’s lineage. Nevertheless, everyone in those lines is an immigrant and, therefore, me.

                Now, some would argue that this logic means even Native Americans are immigrants as they, ultimately, came across the Bering Strait however I’d argue that much of their culture was developed here not brought with them and there is evidence to suggest they have been here twelve thousand years so – perhaps that is when you stop being an immigrant in my mind? When human evolution means you are no longer the same ‘people’ as you were when your ancestors first arrived?

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  I don’t think this makes much sense and I think deliberately using the word in this way, which is very unusual, delegitimizes the experiences of people who are commonly understood as immigrants and who suffer from discrimination and being stereotyped because of it. Common parlance considers people who were born in America to be Americans, and people who were born in other countries but came to America subsequently to be immigrants. It’s confusing and bizarre to call yourself an immigrant when you can go a minimum of three generations back before finding someone to whom this latter definition would apply and it’s insensitive to people who are actually regarded as such. It’s a nice sentiment and I can appreciate idealism, but in reality most people consider geographic borders to confer something about national and cultural identity.

                2. Gaia*

                  It is only confusing when you buy into the stereotypes of immigration. I am not a member of any one of the many Native American tribes and therefore I am not “Native” of this land. If I am not Native, I am an immigrant – regardless of how long my family has been here. While I am not of recent immigration – and therefore don’t have the same experience – perhaps if we accepted the immigrant status of the vast majority of this nation we would see less crappy treatment of more recent immigrants.

            2. Becky*

              I have a friend who is Danish but has been living and working in the UK for 15 years or more. Many of her pro-Brexit coworkers were astonished to find out she wasn’t British and might be affected.

      2. Cool Runnings*

        When my African husband was in college in CT, he and a few other African students were looking for off-campus housing. They constantly had a hard time because they would contact the realty company to set up a viewing, confirm 30 minutes before that the place was still available, then when they showed up…”Oh….so sorry. The place was JUST rented out.” Yeah, OK, lady. They heard his British accent, assumed he was white, then were shocked when they saw several black men. This happened on multiple occasions, to the point where they ended up having to live in the not-so-nice area because that was the only place they wouldn’t be rejected by racists.

      3. Golden Lioness*

        It’s unfortunately way too common, and even if it happens once I believe it’s too much. There was a person calling and changing his accent when looking for apartments, he called with an obvious black accent and was told it was rented. He called again and spoke with a neutral accent and giving a neutral name and he was told the rental was still available.

        This should not be happening in this day and age with such a globalized way. I will never be able to understand this. It just does not compute in my head.

      4. blackcat*

        When I was looking for an apartment with a black roommate, the landlords met me in person and talked to her on the phone (she “sounds white”). We talked about it ahead of time, and she actually said “Use that white privilege to find us a nice apartment!” She had had the experience of apartments suddenly being rented when she showed up in the past, and she knew I wouldn’t have the same experience. Her name can be read as black but my guess is when a lily-white girl from the suburbs showed up, looking for an apartment to share with her good friend from college (and a fancy one at that), people envisioned another white girl. Or, even, if they did get the sense my roommate might be black, she couldn’t possibly be one of “those black people.”

        When I moved out, she had to look for other roommates. At lease one said, “This won’t be a good fit” the minute she met my roommate in person, despite being super enthusiastic over the phone. And another one actually said something like, “This will be great! I’ll get to have a black friend!” Which… no. no. nonono.

        This stuff happens ALL THE TIME to POC. And white people need to shut up and listen, and step up when POC ask us to use our privilege on their behalf.

  4. Asian Teacher*

    OP 3, what a ridiculous situation you are in. I totally get why you you used Shauna on your job applications. I’m sure you were almost hoping it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’ve also experienced name based/race based/ethnic name bigotry. When I was moving to my last rental place, when I would call using my own cell (registered under my sisters ethnic sounding name) I got 0 call backs. Every place I called with my husbands cell (registered under my husbands very Anglo Saxon name) I got called back by every single one.

    I would do as Alison suggests but be prepared for an explanation of why “Shauna”. I think it would look suspicious if you didn’t. Maybe lie and say that’s a nickname that you’re trying to phase out since you’re trying to be more formal/professional etc?

    Good luck with your decision!

    1. Sherm*

      She could say “I decided I actually don’t like that name and prefer to use my real name.” All true!

      1. Someone Else*

        “…and beginning a new job seems like an appropriate time to start”

        I changed my whole (first and second) name legally shortly after I divorced and timed it for a relocation and new job – this explanation was only needed a couple of times and then only with people involved in the new job paperwork (I had interviewed/accepted the job with my previous name) – no one else even knew to ask.

        +lots, on the ridiculousness of you or anyone needing to do this for the reasons you need to do it. So wrong.

        I hope your new job is awesome!

      2. Whats In A Name*

        You know this is great – and true for OP it sounds like. I have a friend from high school nicknamed “Buffy”. She loved it and then at 40 realized that actually, she HATES it. So now people call her by her given name (Beth) and if they don’t she corrects them by saying, “actually, I go by Beth now”. No one had ever had a problem, including her employer.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yep. I switched to using my middle name at one point in my life, and in another I almost exclusively used a nickname. For the past 10 years, I have used only my legal name. Starting a new job is a perfect time to transition to using a new name, and the OP will probably not be the first person at the company who has done that. It doesn’t need to be a big deal.

          (that the OP needed to use a different name to get interviews is a big deal, but using a different name at work should not be)

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Yes – definitely did not mean to imply that I thought the reason for the name us was not important. I was simply trying to put her at ease that the name change thing is probably more common and likely wouldn’t raise to many eyebrows.

        2. Golden Lioness*

          I knew a very smart hardworking woman named “Bambi” that was her real name. People gave her a hard time and treated her like a bimbo. She was tall, white, and blonde. She was in sales and had customers specifically ask to deal with “some else that could really help them”

          1. copy run start*

            Oof, that is absolutely awful. I would have loved to route those customers to the round file for further assistance.

        3. BananaPants*

          I go by a nickname rather than my legal first name at work. It’s fine, it’s what my husband and friends and everyone else in my personal life has called me since college – but as I get older it feels like a “young” nickname. I’m known by the nickname professionally so I feel like I can’t switch now, even though it doesn’t really carry any kind of maturity or gravitas.

          My husband’s first name has no nickname, and our kids’ names are not easy to find nicknames for either.

    2. Kj*

      I think that is a great explanation! I’ve known people to do that- one co-worker interviewed under her nickname, then said when she was hired she’d prefer the long version of her name. No one thought twice about it. I tend to interview under my formal name, then reveal my nickname- but my nickname is a very regional name in my country and it would ‘mark’ me for sure in this area.

    3. CM*

      I don’t think changing the name you prefer to be called requires an explanation. And in this case, the OP is choosing to go by her given name, so there’s nothing strange about that. “Welcome to the job, Shauna.” “Thanks. Actually, I go by Other Name.” It would be pretty rude if somebody started questioning her, but if they did she could just say that’s her given name and Shauna is a nickname.

      1. NonProfit Nancy*

        That would be odd if she applied under Shauna and has been pretending to go by Shauna all through the interview process. I think it’s fine to do, but I don’t think you can just correct someone when they use the name you gave them, and not expect them to find that a little odd.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          No, it’s not odd. It’s easily explainable, and if the person being notified of her desire to use her real name finds it odd, that’s on them.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          I don’t see that it is odd at all. People change between nicknames and full names.

          It might be odd if you applied as Aloycious Conswabble Wadsworth, and then on day one you said No, actually, I go by Jonathan Bellevue Washington the Third. But to apply as Hank and then say call me Henry? No biggie. It’s an obvious nickname-to-full-name switch.

          I’ve gone from nickname to full name and back again before. There is no there, there.

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          It’s not odd. It’s really not. It’s common, people do this all the time. If they think it’s odd, then they are the strange ones in the scenario.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Exactly. There’s no need to act as though OP did anything potentially suspicious or odd here.

        1. Koko*

          I’m of half a mind that she could probably tell people the truth and just not make a big deal out of it. “I was advised by a career counselor to use a nickname that was less ethnic-sounding on my resumes, to avoid being stricken by a resume screener with bias. I figured it couldn’t hurt.”

          She isn’t saying this particular workplace is racist, she’s speaking about a very well known thing that happens in hiring in a matter-of-fact way. Her actions were completely reasonable and many people are advised to do this as a strategy for overcoming bias. I know the workplace can’t be the ideal world, but I feel like she shouldn’t have to not only disguise her name to get a fair shake at a job, but then also pretend that it didn’t happen to avoid shattering someone’s ignorant misconceptions about what a post-racial society we live in. This is such a real thing and I don’t like that it’s taboo to even acknowledge that it’s a part of our our POC colleagues’ lives that they have to navigate.

          1. OhNo*

            I wouldn’t do this unless OP is very, very sure that the company would be open to feedback about potential racism in their hiring practices. Even stating something generally can be perceived as targeted commentary, and in my experience the “I’m not racist!” types are more likely to take it that way and respond poorly.

            1. seejay*

              Yeah… I hate saying it but even opening up this can of worms can make for really unpleasant interactions, even if people *do* need to be called out on it. I think it’s always good to call out racism (even unintentional or unconscious bias that a lot of privileged folk aren’t seeing) but when the OPs job is on the line and she’s brand new to it, rocking the boat as soon as she gets there isn’t the way to do it. She’s already struggled to get a job in the first place just because of her ethnic name and had to resort to anglicizing it at this point… implying that the company has a racial bias in their hiring practices (they skipped over her before the name change previously) isn’t going to do her any favours right now. People really get their rankles up when you point this out to them no matter how warranted it is.

              It’s a *crappy* game to have to play, but if you can’t expend the energy, probably not the waves to make here. There are definitely other places to speak out and make our voices heard about it though.

              1. OP#3*

                Yes, you are so right seejay and OhNo although I do appreciate the comment KoKo. Rocking the boat is something I’ve done and regretted in previous jobs. It’s simply not worth it.

          2. TootsNYC*

            I might leave the “with bias” out and just say something like, “because studies have shown that resumés with ethnic names sometimes get overlooked.”

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I agree with others who say it wouldn’t look odd and that no explanation is needed. But I do also think it’s ok to say you’re phasing back into using your full name professionally, if you do feel like you need an excuse.

      I have a good friend who, after being [insert nickname here] for the first 27 years of her life decided to go by her full name, Elizabeth, in professional contexts. It was fine, and no one thought it was strange.

      1. NonProfit Nancy*

        Yes, I agree with this. OP may decide to just go for it – but if they’re a little anxious like I am, it’s nice to provide some context for the switch. Saying you’ve decided to start going back to using your full name at this new job at least acknowledges the change. To me, it’s important to remember that although we, and the OP, realize the racial piece here, the workplace probably isn’t seeing it through that lens (although they should). So to them, it’s as if she applied and interviewed as Susan but is now correcting them when they call her Susan.

    5. copy run start*

      I’m non-white but I have a very anglo-saxon name. I’m sure folks have been surprised to find “Nicole Stuart” is non-white when I’ve showed up or walked in, but I’ve never gotten any grief for it. No one has ever assumed it wasn’t my legal name either. My father and his entire family also have very anglo-saxon names (like “Jason Stuart” or “Danielle Stuart”) despite being very non-white. Now I’m wondering what effect that has had on our lives.

      I don’t think any explanation should be needed other than “I prefer to go by X, not Shauna.”

      1. Mais Mayes*

        But *you told them your name was Shauna* – that’s where I see the disconnect. You applied as Shauna, you showed up to an interview as Shauna, answered questions as Shauna. They offered Shauna a job. It’s fine if your legal name is X and you go by Shauna, but if you never intend to use Shauna ever, the obvious question is *then why did you introduce yourself as Shauna The Job Applicant?* And “because I knew you were too racist to hire me as X” is not a winning response, although true and tempting. The scripts given here are good: I used to go commonly by Shauna, but I’d like to make a fresh start at this job using my given name, X. They will say: okay. It’s a non-event. But it’s weird to apply as Shauna and then correct people “I prefer X” with no transition.

        1. OP#3*

          Yes, it’s weird which is why I emailed Alison. I’ve cornered myself into a box without realizing it but with all the suggestions I think I can swing it without bringing up the real reason I changed the name on my resume. No one wants to hear that they are or may be biased. Denial is bliss.

  5. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    #2. A couple of thoughts. Firstly, he could be ill or have been in an accident. It’s always worth remembering that’s a possibility. Secondly, sorry if this is country or field-specific but do you not ask for references when people apply? And I did wonder if you made it sound like a by the end of the week kind of thing?

    Don’t get me wrong, I would have them ready. But I would gently chase to see if there’s an explanation. Might he have sent them to HR and not you?

    #3. I’m so sorry. People can really suck. Don’t go by Shauna. Just give HR your real name and don’t make a big thing of it. And good luck in your new job.

    #4. Something I’ve found really useful in my career is to always remember that I can’t control others, only myself, and that if I want to have boundaries I need to just have them for myself. For example, this is the difference between saying “I feel uncomfortable when you ask me xyz so can you not?” and “I don’t want to discuss that at work”. So instead of trying to impress on her that you aren’t into wedding talk, which she’s not hearing (as she’s more interested in the fact that she is into it and you are a captive audience), just keep ending the conversation e.g. using AAM’s script suggestions. Ideally repeat the same thing over and over – this is called the broken record technique (it’s worth looking up). Stop partaking at all – while you might be doing it to get her off your back, it sounds like it’s encouraging her and you need to just be a no-wedding-talk zone. Don’t say you’d rather talk about something else – just go ahead and do that. I’d stop worrying that you sound negative because it sounds like your colleague is not really hearing you at all and only thinking about what she wants to talk about.

    Two final suggestions: firstly you said this is your first career-track job so perhaps you could say you want to chat less rather than making it purely about wedding talk. I don’t know if you do these mindless tasks with others around but if so that would be totally legit to say. And lastly: there’s always headphones and that podcast you absolutely have to listen to…

    1. Jeanne*

      I see no reason to give references when I apply. I don’t know if they’ll even call me back for an interview. My references’ information belongs to them and I don’t just give it out to everyone.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep, it’s smart to be protective of your references, and it’s much better when employers don’t ask for them until they’re at the stage where they actually want them (or close to it).

        1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

          This would not apply in England. In England you’d get side-eyed and not get an interview.

          1. Freya UK*

            My CV says ‘References available upon request’… and I’ve never had a problem getting an interview… Unless I’ve misread your comment?

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              Ive seen Alison say before its not necessary to add that references are available on request as it’s taken as given they’ll be provided if asked for and the space can be used for something else to improve your application.

            1. Any Moose*

              I have. And while I don’t get that, why wait until you are offering someone the job? Wouldn’t you want to check references before making the offer?

              1. Karo*

                A lot of times it’s a contingent offer, assuming that no red flags pop up in your background (including references).

              2. TootsNYC*

                I ask before the offer, absolutely.

                But that doesn’t mean I want their references in the beginning always:

                I ask for references in two situations:

                * If I’m considering a freelancer for a short-term gig and want to do a fast hire (like, within days), I’ll ask for references instead of spending a lot of time testing or interviewing. It saves time for me in screening. But it also means that I -have- reviewed their resumé and their skills are exactly what I need, and I don’t really need to meet with them.

                *If I’m hiring a full-timer, or if I have more time to hire a freelancer or expect to have that freelancer around for a while, I interview & test first.

                Then I =only= ask for resumes from the people who are finalists. Or maybe the ONLY finalist–but before I’ve made an offer.

                In my pattern (and it’s what I’ve seen most often), the asking for resumes is a sign that you are very close to getting the job. It’s not a done deal–sometimes I’ve had the references for two equally matched candidates be the thing that makes my decision for me. Other times, it’s mostly a formality or confirmation of a decision that’s already pretty firm.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            No, plenty of employers required them at the application stage in the U.S. too. But many don’t, and it’s better practice for employers not to.

            1. Anon job seeker*

              Question to those in HR: would you reject an applicant immediately if they don’t include references in the application stage (computer form) when specifically requested? Ie, specific question after filling in the usual lengthy information, albeit necessary, is: provide you references, names and contact information.
              I hate to bother my references at this stage when possibly nobody will check yet, as when I provide reference info, I also give the the references a heads-up that I’ve recently applied and provided their contact info. I wrote in “available upon request”, which was a bit stupid since they did request…

              1. BRR*

                I’d imagine the form wouldn’t alllow you to submit without the names. If that was the case and you filled in all the fields with “available upon request” then I think it would stand out in a negative way among other applications.

                But I think with references you just need to ask them if they’d be a reference/let them know you’re starting a job hunt then reach out again if you get a heads up from the company before they contact them. You don’t have to let them know for every job you apply to.

              2. Recruit-o-Rama*

                Speaking for myself, no. Our ATS has fields for them but they are not required fields and I don’t even scroll that far down on the document when I am choosing candidates for phone screens.

              3. always in email jail*

                Not HR but I am a hiring manager and prefer to do my own applicant screening. Ours is a computer system that would not accept an application without references, BUT I wouldn’t screen out a candidate who wrote “available upon request” in the box. Well I might, but not for that reason :)
                However, a standard part of our hiring practice is to not contact references unless they’re being considered for the position, and also to call the candidate to confirm they’re happy with the references they listed or to obtain additional ones. From the candidate side there’s no way to know that, so I don’t blame them for feeling uneasy

              4. Helena*

                At my company, the awful, awful computer form is imposed on the hiring process by HR rather than actually mattering. When I’ve interviewed candidates as a part of a hiring committee, I had access to the form, but I barely glanced at the thing. And it was excrutiatingly long and painful, requiring retyping everything from your resume and then some (salary requirements, GPA even if you’ve been out of school for decades). I’ve argued in vain that the form is probably turning off top candidates, who have better options than to spend multiple hours filling out the form.

                For what it’s worth, when I was applying for jobs, I put “$0” as my salary requirement in many, many web forms. I was never once asked about it, so it wouldn’t surprise me if ignoring the web form is universal.

            2. fposte*

              I confess that I prefer receiving references with the application. When I’m hiring outside the main university structure (the university requires references with application, full stop, but I have the option), it’s mainly students-to-be, and they’re a challenge to chase down sometimes; I decided to go back to references-with-application after having hiring delayed by attempts to get references from people. Since it’s university practice anyway, I don’t feel too bad, but it was interesting to try it both ways and find that one worked better for me.

              1. Ann O'Nemity*

                I think this is one of those things that is different in academia. I *always* included references when applying for academic jobs. In the nonprofit/for-profit world, it seems way less common.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I was going to echo Ann—I think this is unique to hiring in the academy (or at least that’s been my experience with hiring in the academy ;) ), with an exception, perhaps, for clerical positions that are not being filled by students.

                1. fposte*

                  Oh, yeah, absolutely. But I was willing to try a more candidate-friendly approach–and it turned out to be too much of a PITA, so I gave up and stopped bucking the academic convention.

            3. Taylor Swift*

              I always assumed that in those cases, they wouldn’t actually bother looking at the references, let alone contact them, until the final stages.

          3. Huddled over tea*

            That’s definitely not universal – in fact, I always tell candidates when they ask for how to improve their CVs to take off the reference section and use the space for something better.

          4. One of the Sarahs*

            Not in my experience at all – never had a problem, and a lot of workplaces do this automatically

        2. Elizabeth West*

          But they do–on most applications through software, you have to put them and it won’t let you proceed until you do. Which I don’t like doing, but I have to. >:(

      2. Lord of the Ringbinders*

        Must be a geographical thing. Over here it would be weird to refuse to give references on an application form when asked – you can tick a box asking for them not to be contacted yet.

        1. caledonia*

          UK here as well and I’ve never knowingly had an issue. When they offer me the job and I accept, then they check your references.

        2. Soon to be ex-LSCO*

          Not that weird. I’ve declined before now on job applications (I’m in the UK) and just put “references can be supplied at a later stage” or something in the mandatory fields, and still got interviews. I’ve also seen others do it. Too many employers will use the information you supply without your knowledge/consent and I much prefer to give my references a heads up when I know they’ll be called, rather than have to tell them everytime I’ve passed their details on for an application which I might not even get an interview for.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wouldn’t follow up for the references yet — there’s valuable information to be gained by waiting and seeing how long it takes, and whether the candidate mentions the delay at all when he does get back in touch. If a week goes by, I’d follow up at that point, but I’d probably say, “Since I haven’t heard back from you, I’m assuming you’ve decided not to pursue the position, but please let me know if I’m wrong about that!” That way, if the email did just get misdirected or something, it gives him the chance to let you know.

      And meanwhile, I’d be checking the references of the second best candidate so that you’re not losing time in case this first guy falls through.

      1. BRR*

        I had a very similar situation for the job I’m in now. My email address got blocked by my employers overly aggressive filter. This was after messaging back and forth. I ended up calling the hiring manager because I couldn’t send my references to anybody.

      2. LW#2*

        Darn, I hadn’t thought of that. I didn’t hear back from him yesterday and emailed him back asking for at least a partial list and an update by end of day today. Well, live and learn. I haven’t heard back yet, so I’ll take this advice going forward. Though I might take BRR’s experience into account and call him instead of email, just to make sure his response isn’t getting lost. Plus if he is injured or sick someone else is more likely to answer his phone than read his email, so.
        Thanks for responding to my question, Alison!

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I don’t think you need to kick yourself over this one.

          It’s the candidates responsibility to get you his references, within the time frame agreed to.

      3. Hiring Mgr*

        My hunch on this one is that the candidate might not be as interested as the OP thought, or isn’t sure how hard he wants to pursue it, so doesn’t want to use the references until he’s sure it’s one he really wants.

        1. CM*

          But it could be something else, like one of his references fell through at the last minute, and he’s scrambling to find someone else and isn’t aware that his delay is making him looking bad.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            But even if there is a reason for the delay, he’s also not communicating at all, which in and of itself is a really bad look.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yeah, the problem is the lack of communication, not the delay (although after a few days, the delay becomes a problem, also). There’s, of course, always an outside chance the candidate had an accident or emergency come up (e.g., death in the family), but ideally he’ll communicate sooner than later.

            2. Chameleon*

              So, if I were in a situation where one of my references fell through, I would not think to tell the hiring manager because I feel like that’s a level of detail that would be bothering them–that I should only contact when I had something to say. I’d also be worried that having a reference fall through at the last minute would reflect poorly on me; it would be better to send the new list without telling them “oh, yeah, I didn’t know my old supervisor was going on a trek in Nepal this month, sorry!”

              But then I have severe social anxiety and always tend to shrink from extraneous communication, so that’s me…

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                But you do have something to say — which is that you’re encountering a delay in getting the info. If you say nothing at all, you look uninvested.

          2. spirals*

            This!

            I was employed full-time when I was approached about a new position at another company by a recruiter. I wasn’t convinced that I was ready to move entirely until after the interview (which was scheduled within a few days of the original contact), and then the company called the morning after the afternoon interview and immediately asked for my references. Since I had been happily employed at the same company for over five years and was not 100% certain that I was going to get an offer, it was a bit of a scramble to find references that could provide sufficient information to the reference checker and that I could trust wouldn’t jeopardize my current position. To make matters more interesting – my former boss was on a month long sabbatical touring Italy and not exactly reachable. It all worked out, but it was a bit of a scramble for a few days where I was keeping up with my current enormous workload, trying to discretely reach out to some colleagues about reference for a job somewhere else, and field calls from the recuiter/new company HR.

            Now I am curious based on responses here — how do people employed and managed by the same manager for 5+ years maintain a list of separate relevant references at all times for potential job opportunities? I am keeping in touch with my former coworkers / manager now, as I don’t want to be caught offguard when the next opportunity comes my way.

        2. NJ Anon*

          I had something similar happen to me when I was hiring. Turned out the person I was trying to contact took a job at another company.

        3. LW#2*

          You were right. He just contacted me to rescind his application because he can’t figure out how to incorporate this job’s non-standard working hours with his wife’s non-standard working hours. So I guess he didn’t want to bother his references unless he was sure, which is fair.

      4. Emi.*

        If I got an email like that, I’d assume all hope was gone and the “please let me know if I’m wrong about that” was just a nicety, or would only save me if I responded in, like, fifteen minutes. So if I got in a car wreck and couldn’t send you my references and you sent me that, I’d probably say something that sounded more like “oh no, I’m super crushed that I missed out on this job” instead of “no, I’m totally still interested but I got in a car wreck.” Am I just wildly misreading that?

          1. Emi.*

            Thank you! I think I’m going to take this weekend to finally put some time into that CBT workbook. :)

  6. Cas*

    OP3, I was literally thinking about this today. I use an Anglicised version of my name at work, but lately I’ve been wanting to go back to the name I use outside work. I’m not sure how to make the switch though.

    I’m thinking of changing jobs so that might be a good opportunity, but I don’t want them to call references that know me by a different name! I wish I had never used the other name but maybe it was right at the time

    1. Jeanne*

      I think you could change your name with a new job if you want. When you are asked for refernces, say “I used a different name at my last job so when you call ask to speak with her about Jane Johnson.” If anyone asks or even raises an eyebrow, just say blandly “It’s a long story.”

      1. Judy*

        On my reference list, I list:

        Name
        Contact information (given to me by reference, it may be email, or phone or both)
        Context (how this person knows me, “Manager from 2011-2013 at Teapots, Inc”, “Co-worker from 2007-2013 at Teapots, Inc”)

        It would be easy to add in the name info in that phrase.

    2. dragonzflame*

      A lady I worked with completely changed her name – think Muriel to Veronica. She did it by sending out an email to everyone saying ‘as of x date I’m changing my name to Veronica’, her old email remained active for a month or two and redirected, and in her signature she put ‘Veronica (nee Muriel) Tabbypants’ for a while. It was actually pretty seamless!

    3. BRR*

      Would it be possible to say that you no longer want to go by this nickname and to call you the other name? That’s really all you have to do. Don’t feel like you have to change jobs just to use the name you prefer.

      And as others said regarding references, you just say you went by an old nickname while you worked there and let your references know.

    4. J*

      For other random reasons, I actually go by both my given name and a nickname. I don’t have a preference between them, but it works out that people from Job 1, 3, 5, and 7 all know me by my nickname and people from Job 2, 4, 5, and 6 know me by my given name. It sounds like it’s complicated, but no one has ever expressed any confusion about this, so I assume it’s NBD.

      Shauna, I’m sorry this is what you needed to do to get called in for interviews. But I agree that it’s not too late! Good luck with the new job!

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Cas, it’s ok to just tell people you’re now going by “[new old name].” No explanation necessary, and it’s ok to do this at your current job.

      My 75-year-old great aunt, after being called by her nickname her entire life, decided she wants to go by her birth name (she was going through an Emily Gilmore style personal transition). She let me know in a conversation, and I refer to her by her birth name, now. No big.

  7. Marina*

    #4, I found that when people ask about your wedding, usually what they actually want to talk about is their own wedding, or their son’s wedding, or other weddings they’ve been to. If you answer with, “Oh, we haven’t decided yet, what did you do at your wedding?” then they happily talk about themselves for five minutes and it’s much easier to end the conversation.

    1. SJ*

      Yep – this is my trick for pretty much everything I don’t want to talk about. It’s a great skill to have!

    2. INFJ*

      Thank you! I am going to use this. I have been engaged for months and SO and I have made zero plans. (We might just elope.) But I feel like I get the, “Any wedding plans yet?” question at least once a week. It’s exhausting. I’m running out of ways to say, “Not yet!”

      1. tigerStripes*

        Would it be amusing to make up stuff? Like “We’re going to Vegas to be married by a group of Elvis impersonators.” “We’re each going to ride an elephant into the ceremony.” “We’re going to get married in a swimming pool, and all of the guests will be wearing swimming suits.”

  8. Myrin*

    Jesus Christ, OP #1, are you working with three-year-olds who have a hard time controlling themselves or what? They sound like greedy vultures circling the buffet and giving a stink-eye to everyone approaching them or the food.

    (Somewhat unrelated, but as a German, the casual use of the word “nazi” in the US still has my hair stand on end even after having first learned about it years ago. That alone would make me disregard these people at lightning speed, not to mention, what an absolute overreaction to being told you can’t eat the food for a meeting you don’t even attend. I seriously can’t wrap my head around that level of hostility to having a very basic boundary enforced, it seriously should be a no-brainer.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      When I checked this post today, there were nearly 45 comments about the use of Nazi (on an already 400+ comment post). The OP didn’t use the word herself (she quoted someone else), and even if she had, the commenting guidelines ask that this kind of thing be called out once and then left alone because it becomes so derailing (as it has here). I’ve removed the thread.

    2. DCGirl*

      There can be such a sense of entitlement around food in the workplace. When I worked at a Big 4 accounting firm, there were frequently catered lunches for client meetings. Management had to send out an email because there was a group of employees who would hover near the conference room doors and rush in to get the leftovers as the meeting broke up, which looked terrible to clients who were still in the room packing up their laptops or shaking hands with their engagement teams.

      At my current job (new since July), management is very nice about bringing in food. For the last two weeks of the fiscal year, when it was super busy, there was lunch brought in every day. Fast forward to a recent Friday, and management brought in breakfast (pastries, bagels, fruit salad), and a bunch of people groused because it wasn’t a hot, cooked breakfast.

      1. INTP*

        IA, and one thing I’ve learned from AAM is that many people seem to have impulse control problems around food to an extent that it’s a bit confusing to me how they’re even able to maintain professional jobs – if they had the same impulse control problems with some other things, they certainly wouldn’t be!

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Seriously! I am really surprised that people feel entitled to any food that appears in their workplace. While I have certainly had the experience that people will help themselves to part of something I might have left in the fridge (milk, etc.), none of the offices I have worked in had this problem with catering. People have always been pleased when there have been leftovers that they could have, but no one has thought it was appropriate to help themselves to food for a meeting that they weren’t attending. What’s up with the people in OP’s office?!

          1. ArtsNerd*

            I have pretty poor impulse control in general (part of why I’m commenting here and not getting my work done) but even I have more courtesy than to do this! Not surprised it’s an issue for the, OP though. Stronger enforcement from the other meeting planners and management would go a long way, but OP has limited control over that.

            One option, when possible: take a small portion of the catering / over-order a smidge and put it in the kitchen right away for people to scavenge. Your coworkers will be trained to go straight to the kitchen more quickly than they’ll be trained to keep their grubby hands off the food that isn’t theirs.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        My new job is the same way! It’s tax season so things are busy, and pretty much every week there is at least one day where there’s a meal brought in, and they’ve also brought in things like fancy cupcakes and fruit&cheese plates. We can’t do every day since it’d be a loooooong 4 1/2 months, but it’s still really nice.

      3. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        You made me remember one of my early jobs. A person on probation was let go because she had a habit of quietly going into meetings as they were winding down and filling a plate with the left-overs. She’d listen outside the door and as soon as she heard chairs being pushed back and people exiting, she was in.

        1. Camellia*

          Reminds me of the letter we had where the coworker was living off of the leftovers she found at work because she couldn’t afford to buy food. I do hope that was not the case here.

      4. NonProfit Nancy*

        People are very, very weird about food in offices (and other group settings, actually). I have noticed it throughout my career. The food can be cheap and the people wealthy, and yet it’s still A Whole Thing. I don’t know if it’s some deeply embedded cultural significance to The Gift of Free Food or if people are just bored at work.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I would say in my case, I was bored and unhappy at work. Or procrastinating. That’s not to say I felt entitled or would even think of behaving the way OP’s coworkers do, but if there was free food AFTER a meeting and it was fair game, I was totally there with bells on. Didn’t matter if it was something I wouldn’t normally eat or not. Now that I’ve been at my current job for 2+ years, I find that habit still crops up once in awhile, mostly when I’m working on something tedious or having some difficulty with the work, but I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be.

      5. neverjaunty*

        This is a really good point.

        I once worked at one of those BigLaw firms where people work insane hours, and so at one time they provided free dinner for people who were there past a certain time. Well, a fair number of employees -and I should note these are people who got BigLaw salaries, not anyone likely to be living hand to mouth – would stay until dinner showed up, pack food up to go, and then leave for the day. The firm cancelled the free food. Good job ruining a nice perk for everyone, greedy jerks!

        1. Turtle Candle*

          We had that at my workplace. When we were in a big release crunch, people who stayed after X hour or came in on the weekend would get food; nothing super fancy, usually pizzas and salads or sandwiches and chips, but reasonably nice stuff, paid for by the department manager. All was well until people started doing what you say–staying just long enough for the food to show up, and then bailing right after, often while taking a sandwich or something home with them instead of eating it there. (Often, as they were salaried and their time wasn’t closely monitored, they weren’t even really working during the last hour they were waiting for the food.)

          The dept. manager solved this first by sending an email out to the department saying, yes, there’s food under X circumstances, and if you’re working late you’re welcome to help yourself, but if you’re not, please leave the food for those who are because it’s here because they aren’t getting a chance to go home and get their own dinner in a timely fashion. If you eat the food, we expect you to be staying to work.

          This of course did not deter people, but it set the groundwork for what he did next, which was to sit in the room with the food when it arrived (eating some himself–he also worked late on these work-late days) and strike up friendly conversations with people who were getting it. “Sally, how are the rice grain calibrations going? Think you’ll get that report done tonight?” “Joe, how’s it going? What are you working on this evening? Any blockers?” These were the kind of conversations that were totally normal for the workplace during the day, and people who really were staying to work wouldn’t have any problem with them… but people who had been waiting around on Facebook for the free food got kind of a gentle ‘yes, I notice’ confirmation from the dept. manager. It succeeded in tapering things WAY off.

      6. JB (not in Houston)*

        Many of my coworkers react to food in the office like they don’t know where their next meal is coming from (and for the ones I’m speaking of, trust me, I know that’s not the case). I have one coworker who will stop you carrying a tray of cookies down the hall to a meeting so that she can see what the options are and be the first one to take one (or take one even if she’s not included in the meeting). One intern hovered around the table where a secretary was setting up a tray of snacks for a meeting of the bigwigs, casually taking food and eating it. One attorney will routinely ask to try food that one of the secretaries is eating (he never brings food in) and will go into rooms where meetings will be starting soon so he can take some of the food (he’s not involved in these meetings). And he’s one of the most well-off people at the office, it’s not like he can’t buy his own food. When it comes to food, people are WEIRD.

        1. Pebbles*

          My team has a small table in our area where we will put treats out for us to snack on and anyone that stops by to chat with us about work or anything else is free to help themselves. However we have taken to hiding them overnight in a desk drawer because of one person who has a reputation for always being where free food is and helps himself. We’ve found him wandering around the office after most people have left checking out areas where us and other teams have treats. He isn’t hard up by any means, he just wants whatever is free.

      7. Rachael*

        Yes. People go crazy. I worked in the wire/securities area and our manager regularly bought pizza or food for us when we were slammed and nobody could take a lunch. I quickly became known as “the heavy” because I would straight up tell people “what’s what” from other departments who would swoop in before we even would have a chance to eat….OUR OWN FOOD. It was crazy, but I wasn’t shy.

        And they would get snappy, too. It was crazy, but we always suspected that they felt entitled because we were just “customer service” and they felt more important and could trump us.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Yeah, what on earth is up with the buffet vultures? At OldJob, we’d have food with vendors/clients sometimes, and as tasty as it looked, we never had a problem with it. (although, it was set up in an area that wasn’t near to where anyone actually worked, so that might’ve helped) And for some reason, even the leftovers didn’t get descended on all that quickly.

      One time… man, this one time, there were these little slices of cheesecake… I had like four different kinds. (Before you judge me too hard, I only took one to start with, but then it got to around 5 PM, when most people were already gone, and there was STILL a ton left. I couldn’t let it go to waste!)

    4. LBK*

      So maybe I just work in the strangest office in the world, but to me, food sitting outside of a conference room = leftover food that was not eaten by the original recipients and is therefore fair game. Maybe it’s different in the OP’s office where it should be understood that this is how meeting food is usually set up, but I don’t think it’s totally insane for people to see a bunch of food sitting out and think that means they can eat it. I’m surprise at how vehemently people are condemning the “vultures”.

      That being said, they shouldn’t be nasty about it if the OP is shooing them away.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I think being nasty about being told not to eat it is key here, plus continuing to do it after being asked not to. I would *think* that considerate adults would only need to be told once that the food outside the conference room is not for taking. Also, different offices are going to have different set-ups and again, one would think people would learn the conventions and not be jerks about it.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, this is key to me. I can completely understand misjudging the situation, especially if I come across it for the first time and see that the meeting room door is closed and there’s already a good amount of food been taken (meaning it’s not some brand-new food table being set up just waiting for its recipients). But the OP says that these catered lunches are “common”, which means no one but a new coworker/someone who hasn’t experienced them yet gets to have an excuse for their hovering.

          1. LBK*

            I think I’m also a little ambivalent because per the OP’s description, these people aren’t prying open freshly delivered lunches and having at it before the attendees have even had a chance. She’s solely annoyed that people who aren’t part of the meeting are partaking after the current attendees have eaten under the pretense that there may be latecomers to the meeting, which…I dunno, sounds a bit unfounded to me. Unless it’s a frequent situation where people show up late to a meeting and there’s no food left, I could see how that might sound like a ridiculous concern (and, frankly, if you’re considerably late to a lunch meeting I don’t think you should have a reasonable expectation of there still being food available for you).

            Again, I get that if you’ve been told not to do something and you do it anyway, you’re being rude, even if the reasoning is questionable. I’m just not sure I agree that this is something the OP should be so strict about; I’m not convinced by her explanation of why they shouldn’t be eating the food. It might be easier to just roll her eyes and let it go rather than continuing to expend so much energy on something that people are apparently very dead set on doing.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yeah, but people who have been there a while should know by now how it works, and we should trust the OP that’s she’s just not just weirdly hoarding the lunch boxes. It’s much stranger to me that there are people upset by or feeling entitled to lunches that were never something designed for them or promised to them in the first place. The lunches weren’t ordered for them, so why do they feel like they should get one? It’s like a child who sees something and demands it. She said they get made available to people later, so why aren’t they just waiting until then?

              1. LBK*

                Eh, I guess I don’t see it as entitlement so much as a “Does this really matter if I take some?” attitude. I don’t think people are particularly upset that they’re being denied lunch but rather kind of incredulous at the OP taking such a hard line on something that doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  But it seems like it does matter. The OP is concerned that meeting attendees – who the food was specifically ordered for – are going to miss out if they arrive a little late. If I were invited to a lunch meeting, and I didn’t get lunch because my other meeting ran 10 minutes long, and in that 10 minutes, non-attendees raided the buffet, it would be a big deal to me.

            2. Perse's Mom*

              But the meeting is on-going and the food is for *the meeting attendees* first and foremost. Frankly, the people for whom the food is intended get seconds or even thirds before people who are NOT in the meeting get a chance at it. If that means Bob from the meeting gets the last piece of chicken 10min before the meeting ends and Janice, who’s not part of the meeting, doesn’t get any… too bad, so sad for Janice.

              1. INFJ*

                I agree completely with your assessment. Meeting attendees get dibs during the entire duration of the meeting, just as if the food were actually in the room.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Even after you’ve been told not to eat the food until all the attendees have had a chance to get some? After you’ve been told that any leftovers available to you will be in the kitchen after the meeting? You still think that food is fair game? That’s why they’re vultures. Not because they’re eating the food, but because they’re eating it after specifically being told not to.

        1. Rachael*

          I’m not following the commentators who think that if they can see it they can eat it. I’ve always asked the status of food if I was unsure because…..the person(s) who pay for it decide who gets to eat it and when they get to eat it.

      3. Not A Morning Person*

        As for the timing, “late-comers” could be people who show up in time for the meeting, but didn’t show up early and use that time to get their breakfast/lunch/snack or whatever. In my experience, food for meetings is frequently set up in advance so attendees can gradually get a plate or whatever and socialize before the meeting. I’ve been very pointed to people who were food vultures because the budget for my meetings included food; attendees were told they’d get food and they get what was promised. I didn’t want to have to increase my budget to pay for those who trolled the conference rooms for food before the meetings or even after the meetings started. Attendees could refresh their coffee, etc. But if the food vultures were around, I had to guard against them taking it instead of getting their own at the cafeteria. I knew who was and wasn’t in my programs and I shooed the vultures away. Call me a stickler for enforcing rules. I’m okay with that. And I agree that the OP needs to get some kind of expectation in place for the whole office and then grow a thicker skin and have a few responses ready.
        “Yes, I’m enforcing the office policy.” Rinse and repeat.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Leaving food out during the meeting for people who show up late is not uncommon in my experience; sometimes those people want to grab something on the way out if they haven’t had a chance before then. I also have worked places where meetings are scheduled for most or all of the day, so coffee and tea and snacks are left out for the meeting attendees to grab during breaks.

          I just can’t imagine walking past food set up somewhere, obviously for an event I’m not attending, and assuming it’s up for grabs. Having said that, the convention at most of the companies I have worked for was to send out an all staff email letting people know when free food was available, so maybe that helped set expectations.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            We had a mailing list like that too – the list alias was actually “TeaPotCo-vultures”!

    5. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Right? I’m not at all surprised, though. When I was a receptionist this would happen all the time. I even had my manager send an email to all staff asking them not to eat the food until it was brought to the kitchen after the meeting but it didn’t work … people would walk by and help themselves while telling me “shhhh, don’t tell” … so. not. funny.

  9. Matt*

    #2: reminds me of myself when applying for my first job back in 2000 … i went on a week long holiday in summer and of course received the email from my prospective future boss that she wanted to interview me exactly during this week. This was the pre-smartphone and pre-WLAN era, I was completely offline during this holiday. I was mortified when i read the message a week later upon returning home – but I still got the job ;)

  10. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Ah yes, the meeting buffet vultures, a species I know well. The worst are the ones who turn up with tinfoil and plastic containers.

    One company used to order catered lunches for client/executive meetings and the stampede for the leftovers was a sight to behold. Another company did the same thing, and leftovers would be available for the rest of the office to eat. As there were concerns about food going to waste, the Admin would calculate how many attendees, then round down. One co-worker (who had nothing to do with the meetings) then complained that there were not many leftovers!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      My office is generally good about leftovers, but then there was the 2014 Cake Incident. The night shift was used to helping themselves to leftovers in the catering fridge, but there were cakes that were meant for a meeting the following day. They took the cakes. The whole cakes…took them home. The whole executive team was put on a CSI-type investigation. Then a bunch of half eaten cakes showed up in the break room the next day.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Exjob had a table on my floor where leftovers went. Anything on the table was fair game–but you were expected to leave stuff in the fridge alone (didn’t always help, especially when we had a lunch thief). I would leave a note for the cleaners if they could have some, so they knew. Got rid of half a cake that way–I didn’t want to take it home because I knew I would eat it!

      2. SusanIvanova*

        Someone at my office opened up a taped-shut cake box, looked at the writing that said “Happy Birthday Susan”, and swiped one of the strawberries off the top, leaving a very obvious hole in the frosting.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Fortunately, we haven’t had anyone in our office turn leftovers into a shopping opportunity, but we have our own share of food drama

      And the amount of Grumpy Feelings that were aroused when we had bigwigs in the office and the doughnut order was compromised was amazing. (One of the bigwigs ate a doughnut there was only one of, which resulted in a cascade of Who Ate MY Doughnut!? I’m Gonna Have To Eat A Different Doughnut Now! scenarios)

  11. RKB*

    #3… Yep. I have a long, ethnic name. I often go by a nickname that’s ethnic. So I put the “Western” version of my nickname (think Jessie for a nickname derived from a longer Indian name) and got way more callbacks. Doesn’t help that my last name is also British.

    I finally applied with my full name to a government job because they needed Punjabi speakers, but I get what you mean by feeling so unmoored by potentially going by a different name. This is who I am and I am proud of it. But it sucks when your pride is not enough to overcome bias in the workplace, or in the real world.

    Take the job. Then go by your real name at work. You don’t need to justify or explain why you’ve decided to use that name.

    It is HARD to undo decades of internal self-loathing or masking, but a good step is identifying yourself the way you want to be known.

    1. OP#3*

      I appreciate your comment RKB and it’s nice to know I’m not the only person going through this. It really does suck. I even had to change my voicemail to “Shauna”….it feels like I’m masquerading as a different person or I have split personality. You are so right when you say it is hard to undo decades of self-loathing or masking. So much so I feel like I need a therapist.

  12. T3k*

    For 3, I wonder how that’d work for someone with an ethnic last name. I’m mixed and have a white first name and an ethnic last name and have seriously debated over using my mom’s maiden name just to see if I’d get more responses. Until then, I’ll just hope my dream comes true and names are hidden on applications until selected for an interview. *sigh*

    1. Althea*

      I think you should put what you want. If you use a name you don’t go by, to get around the biases – well, you don’t owe anyone an explanation about your name. They WOULD owe you an explanation about selecting you with one name but not the other! And I don’t even think that getting around the name barrier worsens the “cause” much. Working together with someone from another culture or with an unusual name would do a lot to break down the stereotype that might have caused the problem in the first place. And if you establish yourself in a job and feel comfortable doing it, you could even talk to HR about the bias in their screening and try to help make changes.

    2. fposte*

      I was just reading that that’s why the actor Kal Penn initially chose that as his stage name–to see if it made any difference to his applications. Sadly, it did.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Same for Mindy Kaling (although Mindy was her real nickname growing up). This is a frequent challenge for POC with non-white names.

    3. Morning Glory*

      Are you female by any chance? I think we have more flexibility than men when it comes to using different last names at work – enough women legally take their husband’s name but professionally use their maiden name that people may not think twice about seeing you have a different legal last name than the one on your resume (even though it would be your mom’s maiden name.)
      Of course, if they do think twice and ask about it, it could be a bit awkward if you’re not married, but maybe you could say something like you were raised with a hyphenated last name and dropped the longer name on your resume for space issues.

      1. T3k*

        I am female but single, so unfortunately can’t use the husband last name ploy. I may use my middle name because I could then use the excuse that it just flows better (like Anna Bell).

  13. Freya UK*

    Sorry OP1 that was me. Always first to the buffet.

    OP3 – Congratulations on your new job. The situation is gross, obviously, but you go with your real name – as others have said, plenty of people have names they ‘go by’ and their legal names, it shouldn’t be an issue – but if it is, take ’em down!!

    OP4 – I AM the blissful “getting married is an accomplishment” bride and I like to keep my wedding chat private too. I am an intensely private person and people seem to feel bizarrely entitled to information about our wedding. Like, no, eff-off, you’ll know the date when you know it, you’ll see my dress when you see it, you’ll know what you’re eating when you’re eating it.

  14. Vertigo*

    OP3 – When I was job searching I was always really tempted to do this; I have a name that’s definitely Not White. Unfortunately, there’s not really a good white approximation :(

    It’s probably for the best though; knowing me I’d have trouble keeping track and wonder who the hell is Becky and why people keep calling my number asking for her.

    1. Temperance*

      I am connected with a number of Chinese students attending law school in America. They all pick American names at seemingly random (or from the show Friends – I know at least 2 Monicas, a handful of Rachels, and one Phoebe). So if you want to use a different name, that’s totally fine and accepted.

      1. Jesmlet*

        I’m half Chinese and most of my relatives on that side of the family still live in Taiwan which is where my mom is originally from. They all have picked English names too, some completely random, others that sound similar to their Chinese name. No one’s gonna look twice, but with that said, don’t feel forced to choose a name that you wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable being called.

      2. Engineer Woman*

        It’s a tad different. Chinese or other people with non-alphabetic written language may not already have an English name or any name that is composed of English letters. Hence, they could use a phonetic name of their name in native language or come up with one that’s completely new.

        But if you already have one, it’s a bit strange to me to be completely different: my name is officially Juanita but I want to be called Susan now. Maybe at least go with Jane?

        1. AthenaC*

          When writing Chinese sounds in languages that have alphabets, we use a Romanization convention. The most mainstream one at the moment is called pinyin.

          The issue with Chinese names and English speakers is: 1) the inability of English speakers to pronounce quite a few Chinese sounds; and/or 2) the desire of the Chinese people to fit in better.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          It may be a bit strange, but people do it, not infrequently. People don’t get to pick their names at birth, but they can call themselves whatever they want to, even if it seems strange to others.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            correction: meant to say, it might seem a bit strange to you. It’s not strange to me at all.

      3. Artemesia*

        When I worked with young Chinese women in China, they all seemed to be Lilly, or Ruby, or Rose — flowers and jewels were the big favorites.

  15. Blog Cabin*

    OP3–Use your name and wear it proud. I wonder if you could please provide a little more info on your statement about interviewers being “shocked that I was black” when you used the fake name. What did this shock look like from your perspective? Did they actually (God-forbid) say something, did you notice a change in the tone of their voice or behavior, or was it other things? I only ask because I think experiments like this are really important and can yield a lot of fodder for dialogue. Congrats on the new job!

    1. Tofu*

      I am white but have a very black-sounding first and last name. Shock typically registers in the form of a double-take, or someone coming out to a waiting room, looking at me, looking around, and then asking the receptionist where [my name] is.

      I wonder if I’ve been rejected for interviews based solely on my name.

      1. Temperance*

        I have a first name that is either read as low-class white or black. I do think it’s held me back.

        1. F.*

          Not to minimize the discrimination that can occur when a name is perceived to be associated with a certain ethnicity or race, but a study was done a few years ago that indicated that people with unpopular or very old-fashioned names face discrimination, too. A “Hubert” or “Hortense” label on photos of reasonably attractive men or women elicited much different reactions from the viewers than calling them “Jeff” or “Jennifer”, for example. I have a very old-fashioned name, and have never known anyone else my age with the same name. I can’t say for certain that it has held me back, but it sure hasn’t helped, either.

          1. Angelinha*

            Your example does minimize racial discrimination, though. Old-fashioned-sounding name discrimination, however real, is not nearly as insidious or damaging and to suggest that it’s the same thing is hurtful.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I also think old-name discrimination is going to be pretty moot before long, as lots of people in my generation named their kids “old person names.” They’re trendy again, and when that cohort grows up, we’ll all be working with Hortense and Hubert.

              1. fposte*

                There are very specific names that get revived, though, and others that don’t, and where your name is in the curve helps too. The Debbies, Lindas, and Donnas of 1960 will be bigger age clues these days than a Hortense.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  I remember my mom’s anecdotes about her childhood. Everybody was named Linda. I think she had three different friends named Linda, and also a Belinda.

                  Future generations will get sick of hearing me talk about the Jennifers and Jasons, and all the other Kellys.

                2. LBK*

                  I swear at least half of the women my age are named Caitlyn or Katherine (or one of their various spelling iterations).

                3. Tau*

                  This one can be very culturally dependent. German names seem to be very, very tied to their generations; my mother and I spent a fun half an hour or so trying to come up with names that wouldn’t be out of place on either someone her age or mine. I think we found three. In contrast, I’m always amazed at how in the UK a lot of the same names seem to be prevalent no matter the age group, particularly for men.

            2. F.*

              You are reading something in there that is not there. Please do not put thoughts in my head. I acknowledged that the racial/ethnic discrimination does exist and is a serious problem. What I presented was as an additional point of interest. I am sick and tired of being called racist every time I post something here that someone disagrees with.

              1. aebhel*

                Nobody called you racist. Angelinha thought it was an inappropriate comparison given the context of the conversation; I don’t necessarily agree, but it’s a very long step from that to calling you racist.

              2. Jesmlet*

                Feel ya… I didn’t read it as minimizing and I found that tidbit interesting. It just adds to the evidence pile for why we need to make initial stages of job applications blind to any identifying demographics.

                1. Tammy*

                  I actually talked to the people who make the ATS my company uses about a feature request: “Hide/mask applicants’ names and email addresses until they’ve reached the ‘bring them on-site for an interview’ stage of the process”. I think tech like this could maybe help move the needle on this issue, which I know is a huge problem. (Unfortunately, their response was ‘this is an interesting idea but not currently on our roadmap’ or somesuch.)

              3. LBK*

                Who called you a racist? I get what you were saying, but it’s a little “All Lives Matter” to try to compare general bias based on name to racial bias (because the issue at hand isn’t just making an assumption about someone based on a name, it’s the leap from assuming their race to therefore discrediting their qualifications or otherwise making assumptions about their suitability as an employee).

              4. Mustache Cat*

                I wonder how many times you think you’ve been called racist versus how often you’ve actually been called racist? Literally no one called you that. Over-defensiveness isn’t the appropriate response here.

              5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                No one called you racist, but I think it’s correct/legit to say that, despite your intention not to minimize, your comment is minimizing the impact of racial discrimination.

                The discrimination folks with old-fashioned names experience is no way on the same level or intensity as racial discrimination for names. I don’t know that anyone’s run a study comparing the two, but I have a feeling race would outweigh old-fashioned for “which signifier is correlated to a greater discriminatory effect?”

              6. Artemesia*

                I thought the same i.e. to imply someone is racist for joining the conversation about the impact of names in hiring is hurtful and unnecessary. The anecdote was an interesting sidenote and in no way diminished the discrimination that minorities face. (and I might note that Mildred or Hortense are also more likely to be given to immigrant minorities or AAs than white kids, so there is also overlap there. Immigrants often choose names they think are ‘American’ and that might include an old fashioned name they read in a book. I worked with a guy whose father changed the family name for Wojehowek to Annas because it was his boss’s name and he thought it sounded ‘American’. My colleague finally changed it back to the original ethnic name when his sons started being called names as had happened to him when he was a kid.)

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Nobody called F racist, and nobody implied F. is racist. There are certainly plenty of white people who think that someone pointing out that a comment is racist or minimizing of racism is the same thing as calling them a racist. And that shuts the conversation down, as is sometimes the intent (I’m not saying at all that’s what F was intending, I’m saying this happens, and so we should be mindful to separate what was actually said from how we’re interpreting it).

                2. neverjaunty*

                  I find it very interesting how a few people are angrily trying to shut down even mild criticism of F.’s comment by (falsely) claiming people said her comment was racist.

        2. Purest Green*

          I’m curious what people are considering low-class names. I guess I’m unaware of that distinction.

          1. Kelly L.*

            If you can think of names that sound like they’d be used for a Beverly Hillbillies character (someone said “Cletus” elsewhere in the thread, and it’s a good example), or if you’ve ever heard someone joke “That sounds like a stripper name!”, then you’ve got the gist.

          2. NonProfit Nancy*

            There is sometimes a bias against “made up names” versus “classic” (re: white upper class sounding) names. I’ve read that younger mothers particularly are likely to give their children unique original names – Jannica, Jessima – or unique spellings on more common names – Erynn, Lylli, etc. Compare to the classics like Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine. There’s also some traditionally Southern-sounding names – Lurleen, Darla, etc – that for some reason have an implication of class. I’m NOT saying this is fair, but if you’ve honestly never heard of this bias I’d say it’s somewhere around this, and it can exist outside of just traditional “black sounding” (or other minority) names. Either way it’s all stupid and shouldn’t be part of evaluating a candidate for a job.

            1. NonProfit Nancy*

              Oh yeah or anything named after an alcohol. I’ve heard all alcohol names described as “stripper” names, which is odd because I know some lovely “Brandy”s.

            2. Jeannalola*

              I cringe every time I read Megyn Kelly! I would not want gyn in my name one bit. What were her parents thinking?

          3. Temperance*

            Kardashian-style “K” names, Brandy (or Brandi), Tammy, names with “y” where it should be “i” or “o” … I could give more specifics, but you probably get the idea. “Unique” spellings of regular names.

          4. Kate*

            I’ve heard two first names (ex Tammy Lynn) and names like Candy being called “stripper names”.

        3. Thunder*

          A family member named their daughter “Hazel”. My mother pointed out that when living the south many older black women had this name. My cousin’s didn’t think it would be a big deal, as we live in Canada, so there’s probably not a connotation one way or the other up here. But sometimes I wonder.

      2. ThatGirl*

        As I noted above, my unusual first name is often read as black or Latina and I’ve definitely had people be very confused that I am super white.

        1. Jesmlet*

          My face reads as Latina and people are usually shocked when they find out I’m not. I’ll never forget how distinctly my AP English teacher’s behavior changed when she found out I wasn’t Latina.

      3. NonProfit Nancy*

        I have a friend who is Canadian but her french name sounds “black” to American ears (think “Chantelle” or similar). She has gone through every version of this – shows up and it’s clear that the interviewers were expecting someone else – and although it’s really *not* funny when you think about it, it does make for some good stories at parties …

      4. Can't Sit Still*

        This has happened to me, too, with a couple of people actually saying to me, “Oh, I thought you were/would be black.” Obviously, this is not nearly as threatening a statement to a white woman as I imagine the reverse to be.

        My first name apparently has a “black” spelling, which is the one I use, and a “white” spelling. People who don’t know my race tend to spell my name correctly. As soon as they know that I am white, they default to using the “white” version and it can be really difficult getting them to go back to the correct spelling.

        It’s pretty clear to me that I would have more job options if I misspelled my first name or used a nickname. Or even used my middle name, which apparently changes my perceived race from black to white.

  16. Mooseketeer*

    #3- This is a really minor thing, but I just want to point out that Shauna didn’t work by “hiding race,” it worked by implying whiteness, which is a race. the way Alison phrased it makes white into the default. She’s normally so thoughtful about her language that I’m sure this was an oversight, but this kind of language contributes to a culture where Shauna gets more callbacks.

      1. Mooseketeer*

        Thank you for responding so quickly! At 4am, you taking that criticism so well is giving me some faith in humankind.

  17. GermanGirl*

    #2 where has that guy worked before? If it was in some other country / culture then he might not have his references ready because it’s uncommon for employers to ask for references (e.g. Germany) so he’ll have to call everybody first and actually get a hold of them because he hasn’t even approached anybody about giving references to to now.

    1. LW#2*

      No, he’s worked in America his whole life. He’s been in several states, but in this town specifically for his last two jobs.

  18. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    OP4 – could you say something like ‘Oh, we got a wedding planner. It’s all being sorted by them!’ and leave it at that?

  19. Jens*

    OP1 If you can’t move the buffet, perhaps put some kind of cover of the food to keep the vultures off.

    1. misspiggy*

      Yes! We would get food platters covered in tinfoil, which is very noticeable if someone interferes with it. Always assumed that you can’t trust people to leave the food alone otherwise.

      1. NonProfit Nancy*

        Tape the lids down. It takes a very determined coworker to cut the tape on the plastic lid and help themselves to food they haven’t been invited to eat (the most shameless will still do it, but at least you can feel like there’s a reasonable person standard involved!).

    2. Soon to be ex-LSCO*

      Yes, this is a good idea. However the way I read it, the problem is people eating the leftovers before all guests have arrived. A meeting starts at say 1pm, with a buffet lunch. The attendees arrive for 12:45 – 1ish, grab a plate, then get settled into a meeting. At 1:10pm, Godfrey Gannet appears and hoovers up the leftovers. But Tardy Tom arrives at the meeting at 1:15pm, by which point Godfrey Gannet has taken everything and Tardy Tom ends up having no lunch. Unfortunately, foil covers won’t stop Godfrey Gannet if they’ve already been removed for the intended buffet consumers.

    3. Allypopx*

      Would that also discourage meeting attendees from taking food? I know we wouldn’t do that during the time it was supposed to be available because it looks less welcoming, but I don’t know if that’s a weird inclination of ours.

      1. NonProfit Nancy*

        Unfortunately, if office vultures are stealing the food, I think you’re going to have to accept that the food must be more ‘served’ than left out welcomingly :( When we do office meals we have to have kind of a moment where the food is opened up and everybody invited to partake, for the same reason – leaving it out the full time is nice, but that would cause pushy people to take it all in the beginning, and latecomers / slower people wouldn’t get any.

  20. Sue Wilson*

    OP3: Is the job offer you got one that you had already applied for? And if so, while I don’t think this would happen, Alison could they rescind the offer and pretextually say it’s a problem about deception/trying to get around application rules? If there was an issue, I would think it would be here, not in suggesting to work that you would like to use your legal name instead of Shauna to be professional or whatever.

    1. Soon to be ex-LSCO*

      Not a lawyer, certainly not a US employment lawyer, but I would imaging that there would be no grounds for a deception/fraud charge as it’s so so so common to apply with one name, but have another “legal” name. Elizabeths could easily use Liz, or Eliza, or Beth on their application, but fill out the official paperwork with “Elizabeth”. Williams I’m sure do similar with Will/Bill. I’ve even done it myself – I fill in an application as Sam, when my name is Samantha (and use Samantha on official documents).

      I mean.. the company possibly *could* do this, but it would be such a transparent attempt to discriminate (especially if they’ve ever hired a “Bill” who filled out official docs as “William”) it wouldn’t stand up to any scrutiny at all.

      1. Sue Wilson*

        I think you’re misunderstanding me. It’s highly unlikely to me they will care about someone who applied with one name but goes by another. That’s not my point. My questions is if OP3 applied to the same exact job using two different names, would the company be able to pretextually say that they would rescind the offer because she tried to get around their previous decision and this was a question of her judgment?

        1. CM*

          No, absolutely not. There’s no rule against applying twice to the same job. OP #3 didn’t falsify any information, she just used a variant of her name the second time. If the company objected, they would basically have to admit that her name influenced their decision. (I am a lawyer, but this isn’t really a legal question. The only person here who potentially did something illegal was the person at the company who screened out her “ethnically named” resume.)

        2. Jesmlet*

          No, if the applications were identical except for the first name, there’s no way they’d open that can of worms because she could just hit back with a very valid discrimination charge. More trouble than it’s worth and they would definitely know that.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          The answer is a hard no.

          In this equation, the employer is actually at greater legal risk than OP. If they rejected her prior application but accepted a “Shauna” application that was substantively similar, and if nothing changed in their hiring needs, then that’s fairly strong evidence of racial discrimination in hiring. And if they rescind the offer now that they know she’s Black, that would only compound their liability.

          Their change in position really doesn’t reflect badly on OP; it reflects badly on employer. Twisting the situation to try to blame her would only add to the weight of the badness in their conduct.

    2. Liane*

      Ummm, lots of people use initials, yes even on applications and resumes and cover letters (C. J. Fergus, C. Jacob Fergus, Clark J. Fergus). Their reasons range from “I go by my middle name/initials” to “I don’t want people to assume my gender from my name.” How is what the OP did so much more egregious?

      1. Sue Wilson*

        Most people don’t apply twice to the same job with different names? I’m not saying the OP3 did, but that is my question.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      It would look really sketchy, since they actually did accept Shauna where they didn’t accept the other name, and with the same resume! It would essentially be an admission that the difference they saw was in the name and what they associated the name with. Plus, that assumes that someone on their end even noticed. Given the quick scans that 90% of job applications get, I think that’s not likely.

      Nicknames/shortened names/etc are so common that throwing a fit over it pretty much automatically makes a company look bad.

      1. Sue Wilson*

        See, I think in real life they wouldn’t want the PR, but theoretically, a court doesn’t care about sketch, they care about plausible in employment. Not to mention, that it’s easy to say that that something else jumped out at you, or seeing the candidate resumes you had gotten since the first time OP applied, something on the resume made some work history more appealing.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Please see upthread for why this is not the right framework. I’m saying this with my employment law hat on—a court would absolutely care about the “sketchiness” in the situation if employer tried to accuse OP of misleading them by using a different name.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Not to mention, what possible grounds would they have? People change the names they go by, and people reapply for the same job more than once. She’s not trying to trick them into thinking she’s an entirely different person. She’s not assuming somebody else’s identity and pretending she has credentials she doesn’t have.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      It’s not fraud. You can change your name at any time – even without doing it legally- and as long as you report all your earnings and names to the IRS, it doesn’t matter.

      There are also no stated “rules” most of the time about submitting applications, beyond all the little boxes need filled out. As well, companies often invite rejected candidates to apply for other jobs in the future (it’s part of that standard form rejection), and the OP didn’t indicate whether or not she reapplied for the exact same position- only the company.

    5. Kelly L.*

      If there was an actual rule allowing Shaunas to work there and not Shauntelles, then they’d be sued into oblivion if they ever copped to it. There’s no written rule, and they wouldn’t admit it if there was. It’s about subconscious biases.

  21. Wrench Turner*

    The white guy name thing happened with me, too. I have a Latino name, and let me tell you the difference in response I get from Alex instead of Alexandro for the exact same resume. It’s awful and I hate it.

    1. CM*

      Not employment-related, but I changed my very ethnic last name to my husband’s very “white” last name when I got married, and I was shocked to realize how much nicer people were to me! It’s sort of the opposite of raising awareness of minority experiences through things like Black Lives Matter and that viral video of a woman walking down the street and having multiple men approach her. I thought that customer service people, for instance, were basically just kind of rude and that was the way things were… until I became whiter and suddenly they were so nice!

      1. Artemesia*

        One of the tragedies of our culture is that so many white people don’t know this. I know black men who have been stopped by the police dozens of times for nothing. I knew a black teen who was stopped several times in a week when he first moved into a community where I lived; he was the son of a colleague. It only stopped when the colleague took his son to the police station and met with the police chief and introduced his family as new residents. After that they knew this particular car and kid and stopped hassling him. It was a very white very John Birchy town.

        Minorities are constantly subjected to small aggressions and of course we read about the ones that end up with someone getting shot or arrested. But it is a way of life for people whose skin color or names make them ‘other.’

      2. Jules*

        Yeah, my co-worker had shared a story where her son hit a Mexican man’s car and when the cops arrived, they automatically handcuffed the man and put him in the patrol car despite her son protesting and saying it’s his fault, before investigating what happened. The Mexican man was let go afterwards but imagine how it feels that your skin color automatically earns you handcuffs and a hangout spot at the back of a cop car. That is the kind of conservative community I live in. Which makes me very sad.

      3. Wrench Turner*

        I am an unmistakably white dude (except the rare time I have a tan and am driving a utility van). When I got married I changed my whole name, not just the last, from an unmistakably white name to unmistakably Latino because I married a Latina and wanted to honor her. When dealing with white people for the first time, they see my name and then me, and I see an obvious sense of relief (not all white folk but most of us). Happens all the time, not just with resume-related things. Clear, obvious “Whew, you’re a white guy.” All the time.

        On an amusing flip side, I occasionally get berated by Latino men for having this name but NOT speaking Spanish (I’m trying, dangit). “Que? No habla? YOU NEED TO LEARN IT MAN”

  22. I Herd the Cats*

    OP1 — I’m fascinated by this. How incredibly disrespectful of your guests and your time. We have a LOT of events, and the food’s set up in an unattended area where if staff wanted to clean it out, they could. And nobody touches anything until I send the office-wide email announcing leftovers in our kitchen, which is where I move the food for staff so the conference area stays quiet. Is there a more senior person you can enlist? I work for the CEO and he’d go to bat for me, because running out of food for your event is a serious issue. I did find out from a coworker who’s been there forever, and who used to handle the catering, that this was a problem for awhile. She got so peeved, she announced to everyone she’d be throwing all the leftovers in the trash and then did so, several times, which apparently fixed the problem.

    1. Amelia Parkerhouse*

      We have never solved the problem at my workplace. We’ve sent out emails telling people not to eat the food. We’ve spoken to people directly. The CEO has spoken to people (like he should have to) and people won’t stop. Short of hiring someone to be the food hall monitor we don’t know what to do. It’s beyond aggravating. At best it stops for a couple of weeks and then the offenders start back up. No one is going to get fired over this but it’s hard when people don’t follow the rules and can’t control themselves.

      1. KellyK*

        Unfortunately, even though it feels like a stupid thing to fire someone over, continuing to do something that you’ve been warned about repeatedly, especially by the CEO, really merits being fired. Blatant insubordination over leftovers is still blatant insubordination.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, like “clean up after yourself in the kitchen!” this is a problem that becomes intractable for a few reasons: a combination of garden-variety tragedy of the commons, everyone perceiving that their “minor” contribution to the problem (a few crumbs, a stray teabag, one doughnut or sandwich) is no big deal, the fact that the people assigned to police it are often lower in the org chart than the offenders, the fact that often it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who is causing the problem, and a general and usually-true sense that nobody is actually going to get fired for continuing to break the rule as long as they’re good employees otherwise. The only solution I’ve ever seen work is in fact people monitoring the food, which works in limited cases but becomes untenable if the situation is frequent because then you’re basically stuck making Buffet Cop someone’s entire job, which isn’t reasonable in most situations.

      3. neverjaunty*

        You have two options:

        1) Stop the food.
        2) Discipline the food vultures.

        That’s it. There are no real consequences right now and people won’t change until you impose them.

    2. Sunflower*

      Agreed.

      I think you’re going to need to be very direct. It’s unclear from your letter if you’ve told them the situation flat out which is NO, the food is not for you. First of all, your company needs to set up a policy. Or at least get your bosses OK to say ‘this is a policy now’ and send out an email telling people that the food for these meetings is for meetings ONLY. IF there are leftovers, you will send an email and let them know when it’s ok to come get them.

      Quite frankly your coworkers sound like children!

  23. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    I was born with an easy to mock last name (think hooker). Then I married a stereotypical Jewish name even though his family was not Jewish. (go figure). My second marriage was a generic white bread name that makes me almost invisible on social media (think Jane Doe). People put a lot of weight on names. No one is going to question that your preferred name is not the same as the official one on your paperwork. Check with anyone with a nickname. You could continue to use Shauna as your “work name.” It’s quite common especially in industries where a serious name is taken more seriously. Not fair but people want a Richard holding their financial portfolio, not Skippy.

    1. CM*

      I think OP #3 is saying that she doesn’t WANT to be Shauna. It’s not the same thing as Richard and Skippy. Skippy is not taken seriously because it’s a child’s nickname.

      1. Artemesia*

        In the south it is incredibly common for grown men to use baby names all their life. There are not only Bubbas and Skippys in commerce but lawyers who go by Trip, or Bobby, or Billy, or Binky and women who go by Honey, Tipper, Peaches, Muffy etc etc It is a really odd phenomenon.

          1. Lissa*

            I don’t think Artemesia was saying it was, just adding a fact about the Skippy thing some people might not know. (I didn’t!)

      2. OP#3*

        You are exactly right CM. I don’t want to be called Shauna. I want to be called by my given name but because my given name is causing my resume to be ignored I have now boxed myself into a corner because I need a job.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think it’s quite right to describe OP’s full name as somehow “less serious” than “Shauna.” I don’t know if that was your intention, but that’s how your comment currently reads.

      1. Chickaletta*

        But I think she has a point. Names do carry a lot of weight.

        Recognizing that we have a bias is the first step towards fighting them. Say you need to hire a financial advisor and your choices are Laquisha or Robert. It’s OK to say to yourself that you were leaning towards Robert if you assumed he was more financially literate. The next step is, of course, to then put that aside and make a conscious effort towards looking at both people objectively.

        This isn’t just a race issue, either. What about IT resumes from Becky vs David? Or what about me, who has a name that became a common Millenial female name, but was virtually unheard of before 1985? What are the assumptions about me? I’ll be 40 this year, but for the first time in my life in the last couple years I’ve finally started hearing of my name used for adults instead of teenagers in movies and shows. I have no concrete proof, but I’ve always felt that I was perceived as less experienced and less capable than someone with a less trendy name.

        Let me say it again: Recognizing that we have a bias is the first step towards fighting them.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m not denying that—I agree that people proxy names for race/gender and that one’s implicit or explicit biases about the capability or competency of a specific racial or gender group informs hiring.

          I’m saying that the comparison provided is loaded and not analogous. If someone has implicit racial/gender biases that lead them to believe Robert is somehow more qualified than Laquisha, then that’s a problem. But “Laquisha” is not a “non-serious” name, and analogizing it as such is degrading and reinforces problematic assumptions re: racial identity.

          I don’t think that was Sheworkshardforthemoney’s intent, but that sentence distracts from her main point, which is why I flagged it.

  24. Fish Microwaver*

    OP#1, you stated that you sit across from the table where the food is laid out. In your position, I would get a NERF gun and take pot shots at the buffet vultures.

    1. Pup Seal*

      My boyfriend got a NERF gun on New Year’s Eve (we were looking for shower curtains!) He would be more than happy to do this.

      I work at a building that as multiple business tenants and the building also rents out to conferences. Food is catered all the time, and it’s a common problem that food gets stolen. You have to be a guard dog with the food and stand right next to it so people won’t touch. You could try putting up a sign. Normally here, people keep lids on boxes and don’t put out the forks and plates until the food is actually being served.

        1. Tau*

          Because when bosses or coworkers need to be described on AAM, it’s most common for it not to be in a good way? I mean, no one’s going to write in to say “My boss is amazing and all my coworkers are great and work is absolutely fantastic in every way! I… guess I don’t really have a question.” Interpersonal problems seem to be a pretty common reason for people to write in, and lo and behold, there’s probably a jerk in the story and he may be called Fergus.

  25. Jessesgirl72*

    OP1: Just as a practical solution, could you go the “boxed lunch” route and have the names put on the boxes, for each of the meeting attendees? People will feel more ashamed of stealing a container with the VP’s name on it, rather than from a buffet. It can get a little complicated, if there are some food restrictions involved, but most caterers can accommodate the usual ones, and in my experience, make sure things in the box are packaged individually, to avoid cross contamination even if Jane’s lunch isn’t 100% lactose free.

    And if anyone then complains about not enough food or selection, you could explain why the change. If someone high up enough doesn’t like it, s/he might be able to push through that office-wide policy and its enforcement.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Boxed lunches, for the most part, are not as nice as a buffet. They typically include some kind of sandwich, maybe a cup of pasta salad, and a piece of fruit — whereas a hot buffet offers a wide range of much more appetizing and upscale lunch options. You would be penalizing the meeting attendees by lowering the quality of their lunch, just to stop buffet vultures from learning manners and following a basic company policy.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        You can get boxed hot meals, though, and “penalizing” the meeting attendees might be the only thing that gets the culture changed. OP obviously isn’t high enough to get it done, as she gets vocal pushback when she tries, and it’s relatively high ups who are the vultures.

      2. Artemesia*

        If the higher ups care, this is something to make as a very clear policy and make it a firing offense. No one takes food from the buffet who is not part of the meeting. Leftovers will be shared in the break room after the meeting. Anyone disregarding this policy will be written up and let go on a second offense.

        No one should have to put up with this utter nonsense.

  26. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#2, I have to disagree with Alison on this one. Alison advocates all the time for job applicants to have patience with the hiring process but now apparently demands the applicants themselves act immediately. It’s a two-way street. He applied several weeks ago, presumedly went through at least one round of phone screens, interviewed in person, and then (I presume again) didn’t hear anything afterwards for two weeks. Now he’s expected to produce his list of references immediately on request?

    A strong candidate might have any number of reasons why it takes more than a day to line up references. For one, they might not have let their references know that they were job hunting. Heck, he may not have even been actively looking and someone pointed out to him that your job would be perfect for him, which apparently it is. It can take a couple days to contact references, let them know to expect a call, and brief them on what you’ve been up to lately. Or, it could just be a case of ‘life happens’. Either way, he responded within 24 hours to your request, was professional enough to delay until he was off work, and it still has been less than 36 hours since he responded.

    If the question was asked in the other direction, what would the answer be? “A company asked to check my references, but I haven’t heard anything back in almost a day and a half. Does that mean I’m not getting the job?”

    1. SignalLost*

      Unless someone is really a novice to US norms of job searching, there isn’t a reason to have not reached out to your potential references already and let them know you’re looking, as well as confirm they’re generally available and willing. Since it’s so normal to have that information ready, while the company can choose to delay for this candidate if they like, it raises red flags not to have the information ready to go. Not having it on hand is a bit like getting all dressed up for your wedding and only then realising you forgot to buy a dress, the oversight is so egregious.

      1. Bad Candidate*

        Well, if he hadn’t been looking and just applied sort of on a whim, as Trout ‘Waver suggested, he might not have them ready to go. Or on the flip side of that, if he’d been looking for a really long time, he might need to check in with his references to let them know.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          But if the interview process has been so long, he should have had time to get them ready.
          At the very least, he should be able to say “I would like to reach out to my references to confirm that they will be available, I will have them to you by Thursday” or whatever.

          It’s not necessarily egregious to not have them ready, but not communicating your timeline does not look good- it’s so normal to have your references ready that the applicant should at least recognize that they are not following the norm. Sure, the OP might still move forward with them, but it certainly doesn’t reflect well.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. The applicant seems clueless or uninterested by not responding if only to say ‘I need to contact references since it has been such a long time since I have needed to use them and will get back to you by the weekend’ or some such.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        There are lots of reasons not to reach out to references before you advance past the interview stage, especially if you’re not actively and openly looking for a new job. References are valuable and you should value their time. You shouldn’t be pinging them every time you apply or after every interview. Your great professional reference might also be a terrible gossip that you want to delay knowing or a current manager that you need to speak in person to first.

        I agree it is best practices to let the other party know the timeline and keep them aware of any delays. But hiring managers as a group aren’t particularly good at doing that for candidates and largely get a free pass around here.

    2. Allypopx*

      It’s a two-way street but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a power differential. While there should be respect and consideration on both sides of the table, there are different expectations of behavior from the potential employer and the potential employee.

      Job hunting is still a competitive act, and while there could be plenty of valid reasons why it takes time to respond, it’s likely not taking the other finalists that long, and there should at least be steady communication. Alison is right that while it’s not a disqualifying sign, it is outside of regular norms, and that makes the candidate stand out in a bad way, even if it’s to a minor extent. To the hiring manager it could show a lack of knowledge surrounding professional norms, poor communication skills, or any number of other things. Fair? Maybe not. But it’s the reality of the dynamic.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        How much of that is because we’ve been in a bad job market for 8 years? In my industry and location, things have tightened up significantly in the past year and a half. Every strong candidate gets multiple offers. It takes several weeks on my end to conduct a search. I can give the strongest candidates a couple days.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      It also isn’t entirely about the references, in my mind.

      He said- or at least heavily implied- that he’d get her the references on Wednesday. That didn’t happen. I don’t want to hire someone who already has let slip the very first deadline he gives! He either misjudged how long it would take him to gather this references (and really, they should have been ready!) and told her an unrealistic deadline, and/or he isn’t one to keep to deadlines. And then, he didn’t even have the courtesy to let her know. He hasn’t been offered a job yet- this is still part of the interview process, when people are putting their best foot forward. This is definitely a red flag.

    4. fposte*

      If you’re applying for a job, it’s reasonable to expect you to have your application prepared. If there’s a delay in that preparation, it’s reasonable to expect you to contact the hiring manager to inform her there’s a delay and when the materials will be submitted.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          But we’re generally not giving advice to the hiring manager. We always say that the ideal is for companies to communicate their timelines and get back to candidates promptly, but obviously that doesn’t happen- we say to expect delayed timelines, lack of communication, etc simply because it would drive applicants crazy to anticipate a call promptly a week after every interview.

          If a hiring manager wrote in and asked whether they should contact their candidates if their hiring process got delayed, OF COURSE we would tell them to let the candidates know.

          Just because hiring managers do not always follow our ideas of professional decency does not meet that candidates should abandon them.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Nobody is saying candidates should abandon professional decency. Also, the response in this case is addressed to the hiring manager. I’m surprised it was a complete 180 from the usual response to an applicant.

            1. Artemesia*

              Surely you are not suggesting hiring managers and applicants have the same power position or rules? Yeah hiring managers tend to be lousy at getting back to applicants; applicants who behave the same way don’t get jobs. This one is signaling he isn’t interested by neither providing the information or explaining the delay.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                We’ve had the job seeker’s variation of this letter as well. As in, “I got back from being out of contact for a couple days and found that a hiring manager had extended an offer 3 days ago. What do I tell them?”

                The answer was “Reach out, explain the circumstances, and assume they’re reasonable and still willing to go forward.”

                Maybe something similar is going on here. I certainly wouldn’t read too much into it.

              2. Trout 'Waver*

                Something else bothers me about this post. You’re saying that hiring managers can treat applicants lousily because of the power differential. That’s not a good attitude to have.

                1. SignalLost*

                  There’s a big difference between “can” and “do”. Whether anyone likes it or not, applicants and employers are not equal, and that extends to demands on their time. Let’s say you get 150 applications for a position – how many of those people will you personally reach out to at any stage of the process? The applicant wants something that the employer has in limited supply, and therefore whether the employer can (or should) treat applicants without respect for their time, the reality is they often do because they are managing other demands and it impacts them much less badly than it does the applicant to behave in this way. As the applicant all you can do is free up the employer’s time by withdrawing your candidacy if they don’t kiss your ass hard enough; as the employer, you can decline to offer a job to someone who does not behave like the person you want in that role. Right or wrong, there is a power differential composed of many factors, and culturally we cut employers more leeway than we do applicants.

        2. fposte*

          I don’t see that it is that different, actually; we’d laugh out of the park somebody who posted a job opening who wasn’t ready to take applications.

          There’s stuff you can’t be expect to have prepared earlier–conferral about candidates, for instance, or the readiness of the references to talk to hiring managers–but stuff that is a pro forma part of the application should be ready to go. (And I’m not sure why you’re apparently arguing the guy shouldn’t notify the hiring manager of a delay.)

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              *As in, what makes you think I’m arguing that? Because I’m not. If the applicant wrote in, I tell him to keep the hiring manager in the loop. But it wasn’t the applicant that wrote in.

              1. Marcela*

                I’d read that as “hiring manager should not expect applicant to keep her in the loop”, which is a problem.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  Please read it rather as “The hiring manager shouldn’t freak out if it takes a day and a half to round up references.”

            2. fposte*

              Because I noted that the applicant was failing to meet the expectation of notifying the hiring manager, and you were disagreeing with my statement.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                I wasn’t disagreeing with your statement. In an ideal world, both parties keep the other party informed of any delays.

                What’s I’m saying is there’s a massive double standard. Kindness, understanding, and a bit of patience should go both ways.

                1. fposte*

                  Sure, but so does understanding that an applicant who needs kindness around lapses from professional behavior is likely to be an employee who needs the same, and thinking about whether that’s a desirable employee for you. As with the post about intemperate communication to the hiring manager, it’s all relevant and admissible in hiring.

                  I think sometimes the term “double standard” is appropriate, in that employers really do shirk their obligation to applicants and get away with it. But it’s an asymmetrical relationship even in markets that give greater power to the applicant, and that’s not an injustice; it’s just the situation, same as being a consumer isn’t symmetrical with being a manufacturer or vendor in ways that aren’t affected by shifting of the power balance in one direction or another.

                2. Trout 'Waver*

                  I don’t think taking more than a day to get references is “a lapse of professional behavior” unless the hiring manager had clearly communicated a deadline.

                  Also, if the hiring process had already taken 2 months, I wouldn’t think an extra day would be make or break, unless it had been clearly communicated.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Taking two days is not a lapse in professional behavior. Telling her that he’d work on it that night and then not communicating anything for four days is.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  She talked to him on Monday and I said it shouldn’t raise her eyebrows until Thursday. (Although I just went back and looked at the letter and realized he didn’t respond until Tuesday, so I did get the number of days wrong in my last comment.)

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s why I said in the post, “it’s mainly that this is a deviation from how this normally goes. Even if he just wanted to confirm with his references that they’re available this week (which is reasonable), it’s the lack of communication since the call that feels off. And yes, I know that employers routinely take far longer to get back to candidates and yes, it’s a double standard. It’s still a thing that often carries more meaning when a candidate does it.”

  27. Tuckerman*

    #3. This would very much depend on the company. But I wonder if it’s worth just being honest. “I use a nickname on my application because lots of companies are still working on implementing policies to keep implicit biases from affecting hiring decisions. But I prefer to use my full name.”

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wouldn’t go that route, but if I did, I’d come right out and say “I used a nickname because you guys didn’t call me when I used my real name.”

    2. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t use that language, because you’re going to start off the employment relationship from an adversarial standpoint. People are going to read between the lines and think that they’re getting called racist, which is a whole separate problem, but probably not one that LW is interested in dealing with at this time.

      1. Jwal*

        This. I would imagine that the majority of people don’t think that they’re racist/have any kind of biases. When it comes to unconscious bias then mostly people don’t realise that they’re doing it. While the ideal reaction would be some introspection as to whether or not they have been unfairly judging someone based on the name, I think the more likely response is an indignant “I’m not racist”.

      2. Tuckerman*

        I disagree that it sounds adversarial, but I currently I work at a company that actively tries to eliminate implicit bias from impacting hiring decisions and is sensitive to hiring roadblocks, so my view might be skewed. Maybe I didn’t word it too well, but my thought was that if she can emphasize it’s just her general job seeking practice (“I use a nickname on applications”), she is raising awareness of an issue without being accusatory. This is her practice, which she implemented because of her experience applying to a variety of companies. Also, by framing it that companies are are “still working on implementing policies,” it shows she recognizes companies are trying to combat the problem. A racist company wouldn’t be working on it at all.
        Like I said, not right for every workplace. But there are companies that would value better understanding the applicant’s perspective.

        1. fposte*

          The problem is that it can be tough to know whether that employer is one of those until *after* you’ve worked there for a while, so it’s a risk.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree with Temperance. To Tuckerman’s point, if you’re at the right employer (like yours, which honestly sounds like the minority of employers in its approach), you can raise this issue after you’ve already built a relationship and have some political cache saved. Saying it at the very beginning of employment would go likely infuse tension, if not an adversarial relationship, before OP even has a chance to establish relationships with her coworkers.

    3. SignalLost*

      I don’t think starting off a professional relationship by straight-up calling people racist is a great idea, particularly when pointing out the kind of unconscious bias very, very few people realize is present and racist.

    4. Lissa*

      I agree with other commenters this wouldn’t be a good thing to raise right away, but I wonder if it would be possible to do it later on, after she’d been there for awhile and had a good relationship with people there . . .?

    5. Yet Another IT Manager*

      I usually use a variant on “I’ve had better callback rates when I use a nickname,” when asked (white female, applying with initials in tech).

  28. Jwal*

    It’s interesting, because where I grew up Shauna would be a “black person’s name”, so it just goes to show that it’d be hard to screen people based on name even if you were actively trying…

    But OP3 I’m sorry that you’ve had this experience. I think that now they’ve interviewed you they know what your skin colour is, so there’s less risk of them pulling the job offer than there would be say, them pulling an interview if they found out beforehand.

    I think this is a good reason though why hiring managers/people screening applications should get them with the names redacted beforehand, but I suppose that’d be too inconvenient to do for companies not using application systems.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I thought the same thing, but then assumed the OP didn’t use her actual nickname in letter.

      I wonder where the OP lives, though, that anyone would be “surprised” for a person of color to have any name. whatsoever. Although, I’ve never worked with a white girl named Laquisha (although I did work with a Sunshine!), I have worked and known a lot of African Americans with names from every ethnicity.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I think it’s less about people being surprised by a black person named Shauna or Jessica (those are “good” black people who were probably raised “right”), and more about the underlying assumptions people might have towards someone named Laquisha or Trayvon (who must be “bad” black people raised in the inner city who probably won’t fit in).

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Right, that is the OP’s problem.

          Jwal objected to the fact that anyone would assume that Shauna wasn’t a black name. I said that I wouldn’t assume anyone wasn’t black just because their name wasn’t obviously African.

          Yes, you would know Trayvon was likely African American. You would be stupid to assume John wasn’t.

        2. Jwal*

          Yeah I think there is definitely an intersection between assumptions about race and assumptions about class unfortunately.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Oh, you are right, and I suspect that perceived lower class names are at a disadvantage, regardless of race

            I honestly have someone in my extended family named Bambi. Her grandparents tried to talk her parents out of it- said to call her Bambi, but name her Barbara or something. They even refused outright to give her a middle name she could later go by. Her full legal name is Bambi Lastname.

            I haven’t seen her since she was a little kid, but at the time, everyone commented that she wasn’t going to be able to get a job as anything respectable.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Shauna isn’t the real nickname. The OP asked me not to use the real names, so I’m the one who picked Shauna, thinking it was a nickname that worked well for the letter (having known plenty of white and black people who used it).

    2. Cleopatra Jones*

      Eh, Shauna could also be a derivative of an Irish name.
      I’ve seen quite a few old Irish names that could (by a new spelling) be considered a black person’s ‘name’.

      Think Siobhan (at least the way I’ve heard it pronounced) spelled Shavonne.

      1. Jwal*

        Oh I’m sure it could, I’m just saying that I’m pretty sure if someone put a gun to my head and asked me to guess the race of someone with that name that’s what I’d go with. So I meant it as an illustration that it’s hard to accurately judge a person from a name.

      1. Jwal*

        I never knew that, but that’s interesting and makes a lot of sense – it should only be the playing that matters after all…

        1. Emi.*

          They also make the women wear flat shoes to auditions, so they can’t hear your heels clicking and know you’re a woman. :)

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yep. Hell, even my high school band had us do our seating auditions that way to prevent bias.

  29. HW*

    #3 can definitely change her name back when she starts if she accepts the offer! I’ve worked with many people who go by middle names, nicknames or any random name they wish (like a Fergis who’s middle name is not Dave but goes by Dave). And it’s not hard to do either most people don’t have any problems with it. I have a younger female family member with a unusual and long feminine full first name who we’ve all always called by a gender neutral nickname of her full name that a lot of people still associate as a male nickname so a lot of people especially now that she’s start internship hunting/job hunting are surprised when she shows up and is a woman which was bothering her a lot so she started asking her frien