Can your name define your career?

How many of you are called Emma?  Apparently its the most popular name in HR!

How about your child? Would you like it to become a future CEO? Then do try naming it Peter or Deborah.  If you would rather they become the future Olympians go for Ryan, Matt or Jessica.

That’s according to data taken from 100 million LinkedIn profiles. The site has released the most popular names for a variety of professions. Female engineers in the United States, for example, are very likely to be named Kiran, while “Thierry” is the most prevalent name in restaurant and food services worldwide. The question is, does your name really influence your future?

A name may not dictate the direction of your journey in life, but some research suggests that what we’re called can have long-lasting effects. Boys with names typically given to girls have higher rates of behavior problems in middle school, according to one study. It seems that the boys may be compensating in the face of teasing and insecurity about their names. Having a name associated with low socioeconomic status can influence how people treat you, as can the “race” of your name. In one 2003 experiment published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, resumes sent out under the more “white-sounding” names such as “Emily” and “Greg” got more 30 percent more callbacks than identical resumes sent out under names typically associated with African Americans, such as “Lakisha” and “Jamal.”

So, certain behavior links to the stereotypes associated with certain names, and this can be really problematic in the workplace where career prospects can be boosted or damaged by something completely out of one’s control. For example, the top 10 names for people working in HR were all female, whilst there are more men called John or David leading FTSE 100 companies than women altogether.

New research has supported this gender bias in career development, showing how individual names are likely to earn more money than others, with bias towards men. Ed was the name linked to the highest earning male, and Liz to the highest earning female – however, Liz was 318 th on the list. 60 per cent of men were found to be earning an average salary over £30,000 compared to just 13 per cent of women in this research.

Meanwhile, baby names reveal more about parents than ever before. Over the past decades, baby names have become more diverse as parents seek out “unique” monikers for their kids. The LinkedIn analysis is limited to members of the social networking site, but it turned up some odd correlations. For one, male CEOs in the United States are unusually likely to have four-letter names, such as “Jack” or “Fred.” Sales professionals in the U.S. also tend to have short names, including “Chip” and “Todd,” while engineers’ names are usually longer.

Study researcher Frank Nuessel, Professor of classical and modern languages at the University of Louisville, commented,

Typically hypocorisms, the shorter form of a given name, are used in intimate situations as a nickname or a term of endearment. It’s possible that sales professionals in the U.S. and male CEOs around the world use these shortened versions of their name as a way to be more approachable and accessible to potential clients.

Here, according to LinkedIn, are the top names for CEOs globally:

Top 10 Global Male CEO Names
1. Peter
2. Bob
3. Jack
4. Bruce
5. Fred
6. Bill
7. Ron
8. Christian
9. Alexander
10. Don

Top 10 Global Female CEO Names
1. Deborah
2. Sally
3. Debra
4. Cynthia
5. Carolyn
6. Pamela
7. Ann
8. Cheryl
9. Linda
10. Janet

While male CEOs tended toward the more casual monikers, female CEOs showed the opposite trend. Nuessel added,

Interestingly enough, female CEOs appear to prefer to use their full names and not nicknames, which could signify that they want to be taken more seriously and want co-workers to think of them in a more professional light.

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Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

Aphrodite has had a variety of high profile industry clients as a freelancer, and previously worked for a number of years as an Editor and Journalist for

Aphrodite is also a professional painter.