A History Of Growing Trust In Kentucky

Whitened resumes expose racial bias

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2022 | Employment

In theory, all job applicants should receive fair treatment. Things like their racial background or ethnicity shouldn’t matter. There are labor laws in the United States saying that everyone has to be treated fairly and that this type of discrimination by employers is illegal.

And, if you ask the owners of these companies, they will tell you that they do not discriminate in hiring. But a recent study shows that may not really be true.

How the study worked

The study worked by sending out thousands of resumes, the information on which had been randomized. These resumes were for entry-level jobs that many workers could qualify for. They were faked, but they appeared to be legitimate and the candidates should have been considered for the positions.

During the study, though, the researchers paired up the resumes. One would have a name that would be traditionally associated with the African-American community, while the other would have a name traditionally associated with white communities.

As you may have guessed, it was harder for applicants with traditionally African-American names to get callbacks. This happened about 10% less often than it did for those who had more traditionally white names.

So the employer may not ask for the person’s ethnicity and they may claim that it doesn’t play a role, but the statistics show that employers are still potentially looking for racial signifiers and using them when selecting candidates. A name is just one example of a signifier that can give away someone’s ethnic background.

It’s not the same at all companies

It is worth noting that researchers found a distinct set of nearly two dozen companies that they felt were probably discriminating more than others. They also claimed that many of the companies in the study didn’t show any discrimination themselves. Therefore, while the study does show that discrimination is still alive and well, it appears that some steps have been taken – in some industries – to reduce it.

Employees who feel that they have been discriminated against in an illegal fashion need to know what options they have. Employers must truly provide an equal opportunity.