Remember when Raven-Symoné got up on The View back in 2015 and started talking sideways about how she wouldn’t hire someone if they had an overtly Black-sounding name? A study found that apparently, some major employers might be guilty of putting that sentiment in practice.
Business Insider reports that the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and University of California Berkeley, found that applicants with “distinctively Black names” have a 2.1 percent less chance of getting contacted for an interview compared to white-sounding names.
This was determined after the researchers sent more than 83,000 entry-level job applications to 108 Fortune 500 companies in the United States.
From Business Insider:
The National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper on the study, noting that 7% of all jobs included in the experiment discriminated against Black names, but that number jumped to 20% when looking at the 23 companies the researchers “reliably label as engaged in racial discrimination.”
The companies that ranked in the top fifth of the study for racial discrimination were responsible for nearly half of the incidents of “lost contacts to Black applicants.”
No matter how hard an employer publicly postures about the intention to create a more diverse workplace (*cough cough* Facebook), it’s clear that discriminatory hiring practices are very much still a thing in the country.
A previous study done by researchers at the Harvard Business School found that many Black or Asian-American job applicants who removed references to their race from resumes had better success in scoring interviews.
The New York Times reports that the method of the Berkeley/U of C experiment draws from one done by Kalisha White 20 years ago. White believed that her application to be an executive team leader at a Wisconsin Target was ignored because of her name and race. So, she created a fake resume for a less-qualified candidate with a whiter-sounding name. The fake name got a call back.
According to the Times, experts say that experiments like this can be helpful in both proving that name discrimination still exists and also getting a better idea of which companies are guilty of adhering to discriminatory hiring practices.
From the Times:
“This is actionable evidence of illegal behavior by huge firms,” Dr. (Christopher) Walters of Berkley said on Twitter in connection with the study’s release. “Modern statistical methods have the potential to help detect and redress civil rights violations.”