ICYMI – Black job seekers have harder time finding retail and service work than their white counterparts, study suggests | Toronto Star

Interesting study:

Black applicants may have a harder time finding an entry level service or retail job in Toronto than white applicants with a criminal record, a new study has found.

For a city that claims to be multicultural, the results were “shocking,” said Janelle Douthwright, the study’s author, who recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies from the University of Toronto.

Douthwright read a similar study from Milwaukee, Wis., during her undergraduate courses and she was “floored” by the findings.

“I thought there was no way this would be true here in Toronto,” she said.

She pursued her graduate studies to find out.

Douthwright created four fictional female applicants and submitted their resumes for entry level service and retail positions in Toronto over the summer.

She gave two of the applicants Black sounding names — Khadija Nzeogwu and Tameeka Okwabi — and gave one a criminal record. The Black applicants also listed participation in a Black or African student association on their resumes.

She gave the two other applicants white sounding names — Beth Elliot and Katie Foster — and also gave one of them a criminal record. The candidates with criminal records indicated in their cover letters that they had been convicted of summary offences, which are often less serious crimes.

 

Both Black applicants applied to the same 64 jobs and the white applicants applied to another 64 jobs.

Douthwright explained that she didn’t submit all four applications to the same jobs because the applications for the two candidates with criminal records and the two applicants without criminal records were almost identical except for the elements she used to indicate race, so they might have aroused suspicions among the employers if they were all submitted for the same jobs.

Though the resumes were nearly identical — each applicant had a high school education and experience working as a hostess and retail sales associate — the white applicant who didn’t have a criminal record received the most callbacks by far.

 

Of the 64 applications, the white applicant with no criminal record received 20 callbacks, a callback rate of 31.3 per cent. The white applicant with a criminal record received 12 callbacks, a callback rate of 18.8 per cent.

The Black applicant with no criminal record, meanwhile, received seven callbacks, a rate of 10.9 per cent. The Black applicant with a criminal record received just one callback out of 64 applications, a rate of 1.6 per cent.

Lorne Foster, a professor in the Department of Equity Studies at York University said Douthwright’s study bolsters the thesis that “the workplace is discriminatory on a covert level.”

“We have a number of acts that protect us against discrimination and many people think that because of that strong infrastructure discrimination is gone,” he said.

That’s not the case. “Implicit” or unconscious bias is a persistent issue.

“All of these implicit biases are automatic, they’re ambivalent, they’re ambiguous, and they’re much more dangerous than the old-fashioned prejudices and discrimination that used to exist because they go undetected but they have an equally destructive impact on people’s lives,” Foster said.

“It’s an invisible and tasteless poison and it’s difficult to eliminate.”

Individual employers, he said, should take a proactive approach to ensure their hiring practices are inclusive or at least adhering to the human rights code by testing and challenging their processes to uncover any hidden prejudices.

He pointed to the Windsor Police Service, who shifted their hiring practices when they discovered their existing process was excluding women, as an example.

They were one of the first services to do a demographic scan of who works for them, said Foster, who worked on a human rights review of the service.

Through that process they realized there was a “dearth” of female officers. They realized that the original process, which involved a number of physical tests “where there was all this male testosterone flying around,” was inhibiting women from attending the session.

In response they organized a series of targeted recruitment sessions and were able to hire five new women at the end of that process, Foster said.

“We all need to be vigilant about our thoughts about other people, our hidden biases and images of them,” he said.

via Black job seekers have harder time finding retail and service work than their white counterparts, study suggests | Toronto Star

CSIS settles multimillion-dollar lawsuit with employees who claimed workplace Islamophobia, racism and homophobia

Appears new CSIS director understood the implications and reacted quickly:

Canada’s spy service has settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with five intelligence officers and analysts who claimed they faced years of discrimination because they were gay, Muslim or Black.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service posted a comment from director David Vigneault on the agency’s website Thursday afternoon, stating that the agreement had been reached with the help of a mediator.

“The settlement is in the best interest of all those concerned,” Vigneault wrote. “The complexity of the ever-evolving threat environment requires that all CSIS employees are equipped to give their best. As such, I strongly believe in leading an organization where each employee promotes a workplace which is free from harassment and conducive to the equitable treatment of all individuals.”

CSIS did not release the terms of the settlement, saying they are confidential.

Toronto lawyer John Phillips, who represented the five employees, said he could not comment on the case.

The $35-million lawsuit, launched in July, was a rare public airing of internal complaints at one of Canada’s most secretive organizations and contained detailed allegations about managers who openly espoused Islamophobic, racist and homophobic views.

Some of the most damning claims concerned emails allegedly sent by managers to Toronto intelligence officer “Alex.” (The five employees and managers are identified by pseudonyms as identifying a spy can be considered an offence under Canada’s Security of Information Act.)

“Alex,” is gay and has a Muslim partner. According to the statement of claim, one email allegedly sent in October 2015 stated: “Careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo.”

Vigneault, who had only been appointed director a few weeks before the lawsuit was launched, responded quickly to the allegations.

As the Star reported in October, he invited the five employees to a lengthy meeting to hear the allegations first-hand. He also released a statement acknowledging that his agency suffers from a workplace climate of “retribution, favouritism, bullying and other problems,” which he said is “categorically unacceptable in a high-functioning, professional organization.”

via CSIS settles multimillion-dollar lawsuit with employees who claimed workplace Islamophobia, racism and homophobia | Toronto Star

Poll: Discrimination Against Women Is Common Across Races, Ethnicities, Identities : NPR

Another in the series of NPR polls on discrimination, with the usual richness of data including the “intersectionality” between race and gender:

Discrimination in the form of sexual harassment has been in the headlines for weeks now, but new poll results being released by NPR show that other forms of discrimination against women are also pervasive in American society. The poll is a collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

For example, a majority (56 percent) of women believe that where they live, women are paid less than men for equal work. And roughly a third (31 percent) say they’ve been discriminated against when applying for jobs because they are women.

Overall, 68 percent of women believe that there is discrimination against women in America today.

The chart below shows that the experience of gender discrimination is not monolithic — women in each racial, ethnic and identity group have particular problems in employment, education, housing and interactions with law enforcement, the courts and government. Several groups of women also avoid seeking health care out of concern they will face discrimination.

On nearly every measure, Native American women had the highest levels of discrimination based on gender. In our series, “You, Me and Them: Experiencing Discrimination in America,” we have highlighted several of these situations, including unfair treatment by the courts in majority-Native areas.

NPR will livestream an expert panel discussion on Native American issues at noon ET on Tuesday.

One of the patterns that emerged from the poll and our subsequent reporting is a gulf between high- and low-income areas when it comes to experiences of discrimination. This gap is also apparent in the gender data crunched by our Harvard team. The graph below illustrates the stark differences based on income when it comes to several everyday experiences people have in their own neighborhoods.

A snapshot in time

Our poll — which was fielded from late January to early April — before this fall’s intense news coverage of sexual harassment — also captures what women were feeling and experiencing before the recent scandals.

We found that 37 percent women overall reported they or a female family member had been sexually harassed because they are women at some point in their lives. But there was a wide range of responses based on age, with 60 percent of those 18 to 29 years old saying they or a female family member had been sexually harassed because they are women, versus 17 percent of women 65 and over.

“Our survey highlights the extraordinary level of personal experiences of harassment facing women today, as reflected in the news,” says Robert Blendon, co-director of the poll and professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard Chan School. “These national conversations may have affected how people viewed or responded to their own experiences in our survey, or their willingness to disclose these experiences.”

Indeed, a poll released last week by Quinnipiac University, asking specifically about sexual assault, suggests women may be more comfortable reporting such experiences now that more women are coming forward and revealing past abuse. (Our poll differs from Quinnipiac in that we asked a broader question: “Do you believe that you or someone in your family who is also a female has experience sexual harassment because you or they are female?”)

The survey from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard Chan School was conducted from Jan. 26 to April 9, 2017 among a nationally representative probability-based telephone (cell and landline) sample of 1,596 women. The margin of error for total female respondents is 4.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval. Complete methodological information is in the full poll report.

via Poll: Discrimination Against Women Is Common Across Races, Ethnicities, Identities : NPR

For LGBTQ People Of Color, Discrimination Compounds : NPR

More on challenges among visible minority LGBTQ, both internal and external:

Nancy Haque’s parents understood discrimination — after moving to the U.S. from Bangladesh, they endured threats, even glass under the tires of the family car. But Haque says the discrimination she faces as a queer woman is different.

“As the child of immigrant parents, it’s not like I had to come out as being South Asian,” Haque laughs. “But I think that we didn’t talk about discrimination.”

She talks about it now. Haque is co-director of Basic Rights Oregon, an LGBTQ advocacy group based in Portland. She is committed to bringing civil rights issues to the forefront of LGBTQ organizing.

In 2017, Haque says, “if you’re an LGBTQ organization that hasn’t taken on racial justice as a key part of who you are and what you do, then you’re irrelevant.” That is because the discrimination that LGBTQ people of color experience and the resources they have to combat it are compounded by their intersecting identities.

According to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to say they’ve been discriminated against because they are LGBTQ in applying for jobs and interacting with police.

The National Black Justice Coalition focuses on the intersection of racial justice and LGBTQ rights. Isaiah Wilson, the coalition’s director of external affairs, says LGBTQ people of color are “the most impacted communities” when it comes to discrimination, “be it trans military service, be it access to health care, or if you look at employment.”

And according to demographic data collected by the Williams Institute, black LGBTQ people are more likely to live where other black folks live — many of them in the South, says Wilson, “where we don’t have state and local protections to be out.”

Wilson says given this compounded discrimination, LGBTQ people of color need support. But they don’t always get it — because the LGBTQ movement at large has had different priorities. Namely, organizing around the fight for marriage equality that culminated with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

“When you’re continuing as a community to face discrimination, harassment, even violence,” Wilson explains, “marriage is a luxury. Surviving, being able to participate in community, being able to provide for our families — if I can’t do that, who’s thinking about a marriage certificate?”

And while communities of color come together around the discrimination and harassment they face, they may not always see LGBTQ issues as part of the same struggle.

In the Latino community, for example, “the perception … is that it’s always been a conservative community,” says Ingrid Duran, founder of Familia Es Familia, a group that aims to increase LGBTQ acceptance among Latinos.

And, she adds, “that conservative element comes along with religious beliefs” — primarily those of the Catholic Church, which regards homosexuality as a sin.

But Duran says that is changing. The U.S. Latino population is very young, and young people are increasingly moving away from organized religion — and the Catholic Church itself is changing. And, Duran says, the Latino community is changing on queer issues, especially when there has been outreach and education from groups like Familia es Familia, because of the cultural priority on family.

“Nine times out of 10, a grandparent or a parent is going to accept their child. Because it is their family,” Duran says. “And they still hold the same values that they held five minutes before they came out to you.”

via For LGBTQ People Of Color, Discrimination Compounds : NPR

Survey Finds Correlation Between Perception Of Discrimination, Votes For Trump : NPR

Overall, not terribly surprising except for the dramatic shift among Republicans over the past two years:

The recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., amplified an ongoing struggle in America about who experiences discrimination and to what extent. Many of the white nationalists who rallied in Charlottesville, for example, feel that white people are discriminated against as much as, or more than, minority groups.

Questioning others’ experience of discrimination isn’t limited to fringe protest groups. Perceptions of discrimination vary heavily across the U.S. population as a whole, as a June study from the Public Religion Research Institute showed. And those differences tend to fall along partisan lines.

The survey found that a plurality of Americans — 42 percent — perceive “a lot of discrimination” against three groups: black people, immigrants, and gay and lesbian people. But the partisan gap is large: Sixty-one percent of Democrats believed this of all three groups, compared to 19 percent of Republicans.

PRRI broke down the numbers by state. When the states’ perceptions of discrimination are lined up against states’ votes for Trump in 2016, it shows a clear negative correlation — places where there was bigger perception of discrimination had a lower likelihood of voting for Trump. Reliably liberal California and reliably conservative Wyoming reside at opposite ends of the spectrum.

It’s a relatively strong correlation, with an r value of -0.69 (that’s a statistical measure that tells the strength of correlation on a scale of -1 to 1 — a measure closer to 1 or -1 means a strong linear relationship, while a measure closer to zero means a weak linear relationship).

And while states that tend to perceive less of this discrimination also tend to be whiter (85 percent-white Wyoming, for example), and white people also tend to perceive less discrimination against blacks and immigrants than other racial groups do, the white share of a state’s population does not correlate to the discrimination data as well as support for Trump does. The r-value between those two series is around -0.44.

The data don’t say anything about the direction of correlation (standard journalist disclaimer: “correlation is not causation”), but it’s easy to see how this relationship might exist. Trump, after all, made opposing political correctness one of his (literal) rallying cries. Wherever 2016 voters’ attitudes about discrimination came from — whether stirred up by Trump or brought on by outside forces (or both) — he certainly took advantage of these feelings.

To Robert Jones, the founder and CEO of PRRI, it makes sense for perception of discrimination to be a partisan issue.

“I think that goes to a broader worldview thing of, it fits with a conservative bootstrap theory,” he said, ” ‘If you fail there’s no one to blame but yourself.’ ”

But one PRRI datapoint suggests that something shifted among Republicans between 2015 and 2017. Just two years ago, 46 percent of Republicans believed there was “a lot” of discrimination against blacks. As of this year, that figure was 32 percent. Among independents, however, that figure held steady between those two years (it went from 59 percent in 2015 to 58 in 2017), as it held relatively steady for Democrats (going from 80 to 77 percent).

And it’s not just PRRI’s data. A study on the 2016 presidential election found a “relatively strong indication that racism and sexism were more important in 2016 than they had been in previous elections.” The effects were particularly strong on the Republican side, with the impact of racism and sexism (as defined by the researchers) much stronger in 2016 voters’ choices than in 2012 or 2008, according to the survey by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and MacWilliams Sanders Communication.

Source: Survey Finds Correlation Between Perception Of Discrimination, Votes For Trump : NPR

CSIS faces $35-million harassment, discrimination lawsuit

Of the three – CSIS, Canadian Forces and RCMP – CSIS has the best visible minority  numbers:

Canada’s spy agency is being sued by five employees who are looking for upwards of $35 million in damages over allegations of years of harassment and discrimination based on their religion, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

A statement of claim filed in Federal Court alleges that harassment, bullying and “abuse of authority” is rife within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and that managers condone such behaviour.

The allegations are based on the experiences of five employees, none of whom can be legally identified within the document.

They allege that the harassment they have faced over years has caused them embarrassment, depression, anxiety and loss of income. They also allege that their complaints were ignored or dismissed by senior managers, some of whom suggested they should keep quiet out of fear of reprisal.

None of the allegations in the 54-page document have been tested in court.

In a statement, CSIS director David Vigneault says the agency does not tolerate harassment under any circumstance, which is reflected in the employee code of conduct.

Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour are taken seriously, he says.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale have yet to respond to a request for comment.

Source: CSIS faces $35-million harassment, discrimination lawsuit – The Globe and Mail

Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name: Policy Options

More good work on implicit biases and their effect on discrimination in hiring by Jeffrey G. Reitz, Philip Oreopoulos, and Rupa Banerjee:

Our most recent study analyzed factors that might affect discriminatory hiring practices: the size of an employer, the skill level of the posted job and the educational level of the applicant.

First, we divided the employers into large (500 or more employees), medium-sized (50 to 499 employees) and small (less than 50 employees). We expected that large employers might treat applicants more fairly because they have greater resources devoted to recruitment and often have a more professionalized recruitment process. They also tend to have more experience with ethno-racial diversity in their workforces.

Asian-named applicants’ relative callback rates were indeed the lowest in small and medium-sized organizations, and somewhat higher in the largest employers. Compared with applicants with Anglo names, the Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications got 20 percent fewer calls from the largest organizations, but 39 percent fewer from the medium-sized organizations and 37 percent fewer from the smallest organizations. So, the disadvantage of having an Asian name is less for applicants to the large organizations, although it is still evident.

Looking at treatment of Asian-named applicants with some foreign qualifications, we found the largest organizations are generally the most likely to call these applicants for interviews. Large employers called these applicants 35 percent less often than Anglo-Canadian applicants with Canadian education and experience; medium-sized employers called 60 percent less often, and the smaller employers called 66 percent less often.

We were also interested in whether the skill level of the job affected discriminatory hiring practices and, in particular, whether Asian-named applicants faced greater barriers in higher-skill jobs, which are likely to be better paid. We found that the extent of discrimination against Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications is virtually the same for both high-skill jobs and lower-skill jobs. For the high-skill jobs, these applicants were 33 percent less likely to get a call; for the low-skill jobs, 31 percent less likely.

Skill level matters much more when Asian-named applicants have some foreign qualifications. Overall, these applicants had about a 53 percent lower chance of receiving a callback than comparable Anglo-Canadian applicants. But their rate of receiving calls is significantly lower at higher skill levels: they receive 59 percent fewer callbacks for high-skill jobs, 46 percent fewer for low-skill jobs. Employers may respond less favourably to Asian-named and foreign-qualified applicants for higher-skill positions because in those jobs, more is at stake, and assessing foreign credentials is more difficult than checking local sources. Avoiding the issue by not calling applicants to an interview is apparently viewed as the safer option.

Finally, we asked whether having a higher level of education than Anglo-Canadian-named applicants would lessen the negative effect of having an Asian name. We found that Asian-named applicants with Canadian education including a Canadian master’s degree were 19 percent less likely to be called in for an interview than their Anglo-Canadian counterparts holding only a Bachelor’s degree. For Asian applicants with foreign qualifications and a Canadian master’s degree, the likelihood of a callback was 54 percent lower than the rate for less-educated Anglo-Canadian-named applicants. Acquiring a higher level of education in Canada did not seem to give Asian-named applicants much of an edge.

Overall, we found that employers both large and small discriminate in assessing Asian-named applicants, even when the applicants have Canadian qualifications; and they show even more reluctance to consider Asian-named applicants with foreign qualifications. These biases are particularly evident in hiring for jobs with the highest skill levels. However, there is a substantial difference between larger and smaller organizations. Larger organizations are more receptive to Asian-named applicants than smaller ones, whether or not the applicants have Canadian qualifications.

In order to fully understand the disadvantages that racial minorities experience in the Canadian labour market, it is crucial to go beyond surveys, in which discrimination may be hidden and difficult to identify. Audit studies like ours capture “direct discrimination” by observing actual employer responses to simulated resumés. This form of discrimination is particularly significant since the inability to get an interview may prevent potentially qualified job-seekers from finding appropriate work. Its effect may be compounded in promotions and other stages of the career process and in turn exacerbate ethno-racial income inequality in Canada.

Meanwhile, employers might also be unwittingly disadvantaged, because it can prevent them from finding the best-qualified applicants. Small employers are particularly disadvantaged since they may lack the resources and expertise to fully tap more diverse segments of the workforce.

A number of measures may help to reduce name-based discrimination in the hiring process. First, a relatively low-cost measure would be for employers to introduce anonymized resumés. They could simply mask the names of applicants during the initial screening, and then track whether this results in more diverse hiring. Second, employers should ensure that more than one person is involved in the screening and interview process and that the process of resumé evaluation is open and transparent. Lastly, hiring managers should receive training on implicit bias and how to recognize and mitigate their own biases when recruiting job applicants.

Source: Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name

No simple fix to weed out racial bias in the sharing economy

Two options to combat implicit bias and discrimination: less information (blind cv approach) or more information (expanded online reviews). The first has empirical evidence behind it, the second is exploratory at this stage:

One of the underlying flaws of any workplace is the assumption that the cream rises to the top, meaning that the best people get promoted and are given opportunities to shine.

While it’s tempting to be lulled into believing in a meritocracy, years of research on women and minorities in the work force demonstrate this is rarely the case. Fortunately, in most corporate settings, protocols exist to try to weed out discriminatory practices.

The same cannot necessarily be said for the sharing economy. While companies such as Uber and Airbnb boast transparency and even mutual reviews, they remain far from immune to discriminatory practices.

In 2014, Benjamin Edelman and Michael Luca, both associate professors of business administration at Harvard Business School, uncovered that non-black hosts can charge 12 per cent more than black hosts for a similar property. In this new economy, that simply means non-white hosts earn less for a similar service. This sounds painfully familiar to those who continue to fight this battle in the corporate world – although in this case, it occurs without the watchful eye of a human-resources division.

In the corporate world, companies have moved from focusing on overt to subconscious bias, according to Mr. Edelman and Mr. Luca, but the nature of the bias in the sharing economy remains unclear.

It’s either statistical, meaning users infer that the property remains inferior based on the owner’s profile, or “taste-based,” suggesting the decision to rent comes down to user preference. To curb discriminatory practices, the authors recommend concealing basic information, such as photos and names, until a transaction is complete, as on Craigslist.

Reached by e-mail this week, Mr. Edelman stands by that approach.

“Broadly, my instinct is to conceal information that might give rise to discrimination. If we think hosts might reject guests of [a] disfavoured race, let’s not tell hosts the race of a guest when they’re deciding whether to accept. If we think drivers might reject passengers of [a] disfavoured race, again, don’t reveal the race in advance,” he advised.

While Mr. Edelman feels those really bent on discrimination will continue to do so, other, more casual discriminators will realize it’s too costly.

An Uber driver who only notices a passenger’s race at the pickup point might think to himself he already has driven about five kilometres. If he cancels, not only will he be without a fare, but also Uber might notice and become suspicious, Mr. Edelman surmised.

Not everyone agrees that less information is the best route to take to combat discrimination in the sharing economy. In fact, more information may be the fix, according to recent research conducted by Ruomeng Cui, an assistant professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Jun Li, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and Dennis Zhang, an assistant professor at the John M. Olin Business School at Washington University in Saint Louis.

The trio of academics argues that rental decisions on platforms such as Airbnb are based on racial preferences only when not enough information is available. When more information is shared, specifically through peer reviews, discriminatory practices are reduced or even eliminated.

“We recommend platforms take advantage of the online reputation system to fight discrimination. This includes creating and maintaining an easy-to-use online review system, as well as encouraging users to write reviews after transactions. For example, sending multiple e-mail reminders or offering monetary incentives such as discounts or credits, especially for those relatively new users,” Dr. Li said.

“Eventually, sharing-economy platforms have to figure how to better signal user quality; nevertheless, whatever they do, concealing information will not help,” she added.

Still, others believe technology itself can offer a solution to the incidents of bias in the sharing economy, such as Copenhagen-based Sara Green Brodersen, founder and chief executive of Deemly, which launched last October. The company’s mission is to build trust in the sharing economy through social ID verification and reputation software, which enables users to take their reputation with them across platforms. For example, if a user has ratings on Airbnb, they can collate it with their reviews on Upwork.

“Recent studies in this area suggest that ratings and reviews are what creates most trust between peers. [For example] when a user on Airbnb looks at a host, they put the most emphasis on the previous reviews from other guests more than anything else on the profile. Essentially, this means platforms could present anonymous profiles showing only the user’s reputation, but not gender, profile picture, ethnicity, name and age and, in this way, we can avoid the bias which has been presented,” Ms. Brodersen said.

Regardless of the solution, platforms and their users need to recognize that combatting discriminatory practices is their responsibility and the sharing economy, like the traditional work force, is no meritocracy.

“This issue is not going to be smaller on its own,” Ms. Brodersen warned.

Source: No simple fix to weed out racial bias in the sharing economy – The Globe and Mail

USA: The black-white wage gap can be explained in a word: discrimination : NPR

The latest of studies showing the impact of discrimination:

Racial discrimination, it seems, is like the salt that’s left in a pot after water boils away — much easier to identify in the absence of the other things.

That was one of the big takeaways from a report released this week by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Researchers were studying the longstanding black-white wage gap, and their findings were grim: The distance between what white Americans and black Americans earn is larger than it’s been in almost 40 years.

I talked to Valerie Wilson, who analyzes race and the economy for the institute. She told me that the wage gap has grown and shrunk over the years and has lingered in both boom and lean times. While it once varied by region — smallest in the Midwest and largest in the South — the gap is now more or less uniform across the country. It’s been a chronic blemish on our economy.

And the major reason, Wilson said? Not education. Not work experience. Not whether you live on a farm or in a downtown apartment complex. It’s discriminationand it’s borne out in the data.

I was curious when she said this. How would you even measure discrimination when the people doing it don’t tend to advertise it, and the people being discriminated against often don’t know it’s happening? How do you detect something that is essentially invisible?

“The way that we measure discrimination in this report,” Wilson said, “is that it’s the portion of the gap that remains after we control for all the other factors that would reasonably influence one’s earnings.”

Here’s the crux of the matter via the report:

“During the early 1980s, rising unemployment, declining unionization, and policies such as the failure to raise the minimum wage and lax enforcement of anti-discrimination laws contributed to the growing black-white wage gap. During the late 1990s, the gap shrank due in part to tighter labor markets, which made discrimination more costly, and increases in the minimum wage. Since 2000 the gap has grown again.”

The researchers didn’t try to describe the ways widespread discrimination caused the wage gap, but we have some ideas. There’s the much-cited 2003 study where applicants with resumes boasting “black-sounding” names — Lakisha, say, or Jamal — were less likely to get callbacks for jobs. And then there’s this 2014 study by three prominent economists that analyzed the job searches of nearly 5,200 newly unemployed people in New Jersey:

“First, black job seekers were offered significantly less compensation than whites by potential new employers. Second, blacks were much more likely to accept these lower offers than their white counterparts.”

Interestingly, the economists also found that the racial gap in pay narrowed over time if employees stayed at the same company; that is, once the company became more comfortable with those black hires. But that also means that black folks have to stay with one employer longer to catch up with the wages of their white coworkers.

That finding dovetails with data from the EPI study, which pointed out that black college graduates enter the workforce making less than white college graduates. Taken together, black people are starting their work lives with potential employers deciding whether their names disqualify them, with fewer job prospects and with lower entry-level wages. Discrimination, then, is part of the experience of black workers long before and long after they’re hired.

Source: The black-white wage gap can be explained in a word: discrimination : Code Switch : NPR

Jobseekers resort to ‘resumé whitening’ to get a foot in the door, study shows

Further to earlier studies by Oreopoulos (How an ethnic-sounding name may affect the job hunt), additional confirmation of bias in resumé callbacks and the strategies being used by some visible minority applicants to improve their chances:

It’s a disturbing practice called “resumé whitening” and involves deleting telltale signs of race or ethnicity from a CV in the hopes of landing a job.

And it happens more often than you’d think.

According to a two-year study led by University of Toronto researchers, as many as 40 per cent of minority jobseekers “whiten” their resumés by adopting Anglicized names and downplaying experience with racial groups to bypass biased screeners and just get their foot in the door.

It’s when “Lamar J. Smith” becomes “L. James Smith” or “Lei Zhang” morphs to “Luke Zhang” — and the callback rates soar.

“It’s really a wake-up call for organizations to do something to address this problem. Discrimination is still a reality,” said Sonia Kang, lead author of “Whitened Resumés, Race and Self-Presentation in the Labour Market,” to be released in the Administrative Science Quarterly Journal Thursday.

“It shows us that racial minorities aren’t just passively receiving this discrimination. They are trying to do something about it.”

In the study, only 10 per cent of black job applicants — created by researchers based on real candidate profiles — received callbacks for job interviews if they stuck to their African names and experience with black organizations. However, the callback rate went up to 25.5 per cent if their names were “whitened” and their black experience was removed from their resumés.

In the case of the Asian applicants, only 11.5 per cent received callbacks if they used their Asian-sounding names and experience, compared to 21 per cent using whitened resumés.

When seeking jobs with employers known to have a pro-diversity image, minority job applicants were less likely to “whiten” their resumes, the study found.

But, perhaps most surprising, even with pro-diversity employers, the odds of getting called in for an interview were greater when a minority applicant took steps to hide their race, the research shows.

….In the third part of the research, 1,600 fictitious resumés — with no whitening, a whitened first name, whitened experience or a whitened first name and whitened experience — were sent in response to job ads.

In total, 267 or 16.7 per cent of the applications led to a job interview request. For black applicants, the callback gap between unwhitened resumés and those for which both the name and the experiences were whitened was 15.5 percentage points; for Asians, the gap was 9.5 percentage points.

Kang, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour and human resources management, said employers must go beyond the rhetoric of how they appreciate diversity in their workforce. “By creating a false sense of security, these (diversity) statements merely provide an illusion of diversity that might end up making things worse for minority applicants.”

How minority job applicants ‘whiten’ their resumés:

Unwhitened: Name of a black applicant on resumé appears as “Lamar J. Smith”;

Whitened: Changed to “L. James Smith”;

Unwhitened: Name of an Asian applicant on resumé appears as “Lei Zhang”;

Whitened: Changed it to “Luke Zhang”;

Unwhitened: Lists involvement as vice-president of Aspiring African American Business Leaders and peer counsellor of Black Students’ Association;

Whitened: Removes those organizations and replaces with causes such as “Give Kids a Smile Day” and first-year student orientation;

Unwhitened: Lists volunteer experience and interests that are exclusively within Korean community organizations;

Whitened: Removes them and replaces with hiking, snowboarding and activities common in Western culture;

Unwhitened: Being the political action chair of Black Students Association;

Whitened: Changes that to member of a generic minority business and entrepreneur group.

Source: Jobseekers resort to ‘resumé whitening’ to get a foot in the door, study shows | Toronto Star