Hiring Discrimination Isn’t Getting Better

hiring discrimination isn't getting better

According to a new study there has been little to no progress in reducing racial hiring discrimination since 1989. Researchers from Northwestern University, Harvard, and the Institute for Social Research in Norway looked studies on resume and interview discrimination in the past 28 years, looking for trends in the data. And boy did they find one – little to no progress.

The researchers analyzed studies on resume discrimination – where resumes with randomized ethnic names are submitted – and interview discrimination – where candidates with identical credentials but different demographic backgrounds go for in person interviews – and found that what was true in 1989 is still true today: white candidates get more callbacks and get further in the hiring process. They say that

On average, white applicants receive 36% more callbacks than equally qualified African Americans (95% confidence interval of 25–47% more), based on random-effects meta-analysis of data since 1989, representing a substantial degree of direct discrimination. White applicants receive on average 24% more callbacks than Latinos (95% confidence interval of 15–33% more).

If you’re curious about their methodology (yes, they did account for differences in methodologies over time) or want to learn more about their results, you can find their full report here.

Hiring Discrimination Isn’t Getting Better

Hard data on hiring discrimination is incredibly important because it’s too common for organizations, and even HR departments, to dismiss the issue based on the feeling that they’re working hard to reduce hiring discrimination. This sort of meta-analysis provides context for in-house or industry programs to reduce hiring discrimination, but even more importantly, it shows that hiring discrimination is systemic and endemic – it’s everywhere.

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Megan Purdy

Megan Purdy

Former recruiter, HR pro and Workology editor. Comics, cheese and political economy.

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