African Americans With Strong Racial Identities Are Less Likely To Be Hired and Receive Lower Salaries

A new study from Texas A&M University has found that African Americans and members of other underrepresented groups with a strong racial or ethnic identity are less likely to get hired and are often paid less than their peers.

The researchers asked White people who have worked in the fitness industry to review the application of someone applying to be a club manager. Each fictional applicant had the same experience, work history, and education and pictures were used to indicate each applicant’s race. However, the researcher’s varied each applicant’s relevant affiliations and community service to suggest whether they had a strong or weak racial identity.

The results showed that most participants did use cues from the application file to form views of the applicant’s racial identity. A Black applicant who worked on the Obama presidential campaign would indicate a strong racial identity, whereas a Black applicant who was a member of a ski club would be perceived as not having a strong racial identity. The applicants perceived as identifying strongly with their racial group were less likely to be recommended for the job. When they were recommended, they received, on average, $2,000 less in suggested salaries than those with weaker perceived racial or ethnic associations.

Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that companies should be on the lookout for these biases that may lead to a less diversified workforce and take steps to overcome these biases during their hiring processes for new employees.

The study, “Bias Against Latina and African American Women Job Applicants: A Field Experiment,” was published in Sport, Business, and Management: An International Journal. It may be accessed here.


Comments (3)

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  1. Brian Walter says:

    As reviewed in the JBHE, this study appears to be deeply flawed. Researched were “White people who have worked in the fitness industry” means what? The receptionist, the janitor, accountants, trainers? If your researching hiring discrimination, interview those that do the hiring, like a manager or owner. But most important, industry has hiring preferences for those with industry experience. It would be expected that an active sports person would be more valuable over that of a campaign worker. Further, entry level hires are best good learners and follow instruction. The discipline of a demanding sport, one that demands planning and precision like skiing, differs markedly from an ambiguous campaign worker where one shows up and is slotted into positions oft characterized useful but menial.

  2. Jan says:

    Great research. I know, from personal experience, that this is true.

  3. Lonnie Fogle says:

    In the workplace, it should be incumbent for upper management to staff their organization with people that value diversity and relevancy.

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