names and racial bias

When Gatekeepers Say No Because Of Your Name

Good intentions don't help at all

The connection between names and racial bias is well known. Some people don’t get the breaks and opportunities they deserve simply because of their name. In one study at the University of Chicago, researchers mailed thousands of CVs to companies with job openings. They randomly used Black-sounding names on some, and white-sounding names on others.

Although the resumes were identical in every other way, CVs with white-sounding names were roughly 50% more likely to result in an interview.

This pattern has been repeated in studies of cardiology screenings, car showrooms, apartment rental ads and many more areas of life. People of colour don’t need researchers to tell them this is happening.

So are Black and minority ethnic artists likely to be discriminated against when they pitch their work to stores?

Or in applications to juried craft shows?

Or in funding applications?

Or when they need to set up a business bank account?


We white retailers, along with other gatekeepers in our industry, must become aware of our prejudices and do the work to overcome them.

The 15% Pledge, where US retailers agree to devote a minimum of 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned suppliers, is potentially a way forward.

In the UK, there’s the Design For Diversity initiative which is a first step towards a more diverse design industry.

One thing’s for sure: in dealing with racial bias, good intentions aren’t enough.

This post about names and racial bias first appeared in my private Sell Like An Artist community over on facebook – come over to see what artists around the world have to say about this issue.

help with wholesale

If you've liked what I've had to say,
get more with my newsletter.

Six free Beginner's Guides, weekly wholesale tips and the occasional
offer to help you sell the lovely thing you make to shops.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Your information will never be shared because I'm not a jerk | By subscribing you agree to my privacy policy.