Inein Victor Garrick, safety Inspector at Transport for Wales, has told how returning to his first name changed his life, after years of people constantly mispronouncing it
A man who spent years using his middle name to ‘make others’ lives easier’ has told how reverting back to his first name changed his life.
Inein Victor Garrick, 34, who was born in the southwest of Nigeria, began using his middle name after struggling to get any job interviews after graduating from South Wales University – and noticed a change immediately.
He said: “I started using Victor’s as first name due to the barriers I faced whilst applying to jobs after university.
“I never seemed to get past the first application stages even though on paper, I had all the necessary requirements for at least an interview i
“In addition, the few calls I had, the recruiters had an issue in saying my first name correctly.Inein Victor Garrick said it felt like a ‘rebirth’ to finally return to his first name after years of avoiding using it (
“With comments like your name is difficult or hard to pronounce. I always felt I was on the backfoot and sent some unconscious bias.
“The moment I changed to my middle name Victor, on my CV, within a week, I had multiple calls for interviews.”
Inein moved to the UK aged 22 and it was here that he began to experience people mispronouncing his name.
He said: “I didn’t mind at the time.
“I think the challenging aspect was people not making an attempt to get it right.
“People were calling me by my last name because it was easier.
“I really felt the effect of it when I was trying to get a job. On paper, I had the necessary qualifications to at least get an interview.
“But the few calls I had, the starting point was that my name was quite tricky. To me it’s very simple, it’s five letters.
“That was always the start of the conversation, oh your name is difficult and then asking where I’m from.
“Again, there was always so many ways it could do.
“So I decided to put Victor as the first name on my CV, and within a week, I had numerous calls for job interviews.
“But when I got to the interview stage, I’d answer when they call out my name and I’d be asked again, almost like ‘are you sure that’s you?’
“So it got me through the first stage but then there was an uphill battle.”
Inein eventually joined Transport for Wales, where he’s been ever since and has praised the company for its supportive ethos.
But he realised last year that he was “hiding part of himself” and decided to stop going by Victor.
Last October in Black History Month, Inein spoke to his colleagues about how he’d been going by his middle name.The 34-year-old hopes to inspire others (
And he formally reverted back, changing everything including his email signature, with the company creating a phonetic template for employees to use.
He said: “I think it did really hit me. Last year, I almost felt like I hid a part of myself all those years.
“It wasn’t shame per se but I wasn’t my true self.
“People would hear Victor and assume I was British or English and I wasn’t highlighting my true identity.
“I’m proud of where I’m from and I think I hid behind Victor. This opened that door to talk about Nigeria and my cultural heritage, it’s a fantastic conversation starter.”
Speaking about the impact it has had on his life, Inein says he feels “reborn” by using his first name again.
He said: “I hadn’t heard it in so long. I’ve been in the UK since 2009 and besides my immediate family, no one’s ever called me by my first name, until the last year.
“So when you think about it, you can’t believe it’s been that long.
“There’s a lot of joy but there’s also a bit of sadness as well that is taken that long”
In a recent poll from Race Equality Matters, 73 per cent of respondents have had their names mispronounced at work. And regardless of it being an honest mistake or ignorance, it can hurt.
Now REM has launched the #MyNameIs ’Fuh-Net-Ic Filter’ to mark the start of UK’s second ever Race Equality Week (7th to 13th February, 2022).
The tool allows people to get the phonetic spelling of their name and share it on social media.
To try it out, visit the my-name-is.io website and then type your name to get a phonetic translation with the #NyNameIs hashtag.
Inein, pronounced In-ehh, is supporting the launch of #MyNameIs in a bid to promote workplace equality
He said: “I support this campaign not just because this is something I have experienced personally but because it’s time we give those affected by this a voice.
“This is one of the many microaggressions people face not just in the workplace but also in society and we need to as a society proactively support those affected by being respectful and being an ally.
“If we want to live in a society that truly values dignity, respect and inclusion; then this is something we must address by starting off with something as effective as respecting & valuing people’s names and most importantly the cultural heritage attached to their names.
“For me, just as this campaign has given me strength and a voice to face my own personal challenges with my name being mispronounced in the past, I would love people to be inspired to be who they are.
“My hope and belief is that this campaign can inspire bravery in that sense.”