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Study: Racial discrimination continues for new job applicants

by | Aug 3, 2021 | Workplace Discrimination |

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research hints that systemic racial discrimination continues to take place in the job application process. The group’s researchers sent about 84,000 phony job applications and resumes for entry-level positions to more than 100 Fortune 500 companies. The result: applicants with typically Black names such as Leticia and Jamal were 10% less likely to get called compared with applicants with typically white names such as Emily and Greg.

However, what remains most interesting is that a substantial portion of the discrimination uncovered by the study occurred within a small slice of the 108 companies. Roughly half of the discrimination came from the top 20% of the firms in the study.

Gender discrimination also comes to light

The study found that this explanation held true on gender discrimination, also concentrated with a small group of companies.  A few firms preferred calling back the male applicants, while other firms had a stronger preference for female candidates.

While the study did not name the companies responsible for the bulk of the discrimination, they are household names. According to Evan Rose, co-author of the study, these are large U.S. employers. “You know and love them, at least I shop with them regularly. And, unfortunately, it seems that there are widespread patterns of discrimination across their establishments,” Rose told National Public Radio’s Marketplace.

The study disclosed that companies in the auto, retail and food services industries displayed large racial gaps. Meanwhile, engineering, health services and accommodations companies discriminated less based on race.

When it comes to gender discrimination, the study found that companies in wholesale durable and construction materials sectors preferred male applicants, while apparel firms preferred female applicants.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would clearly define the findings as a systemic pattern of racial discrimination. We know this continues to go on in the business world, and we cannot ignore it.


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