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An under-the-radar sign of employment discrimination

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Discrimination And Harassment

As a jobseeker in California, the process of finding a job in line with your qualifications and experience can sometimes be frustrating. Often, one of the most difficult steps is breaking through the initial barrier of getting a callback when sending out your resume.

Unfortunately, research demonstrates that discriminatory practices start at the very first phase of a job search. Many businesses exhibit racial bias when evaluating resumes and determining who they might call back for an interview.

Evaluating resumes based on applicant names

Most resumes include neither the applicant’s race nor a photo or other way to identify that information. But in many cases, an applicant’s name itself can cause employers to exhibit prejudice.

Several researchers conducted studies to determine the prevalence of race-based discrimination sent out tens of thousands of resumes to businesses all over the country and tracked the rate at which they received callbacks on those applications.

They included a sample of resumes with “white-sounding” names and “Black-sounding” names. To do this, they chose names that correspond with a given race at least 90% of the time.

Consistently, these studies have discovered that employers are less likely to call back resumes with Black-sounding names. The prejudice ranged anywhere from 9% to 24%, depending on the company and industry.

The effect of this type of employment discrimination

This type of racial discrimination often flies under the radar because its effect is hard to see from the outside. And even within a company, it may be difficult to perceive that it’s happening.

But by making it more difficult for qualified Black job applicants to make it past the first step in applying for a job, this skews the racial makeup of a workforce. Fewer callbacks mean fewer interviews for minority candidates, and it also means that minority job seekers will tend to struggle more to find work. This can lead to discouragement, as it forces many to settle for jobs below their qualification levels.

While some forms of employment discrimination are overt and highly noticeable, others are more subtle. Receiving callbacks based on a name on a resume is a way that minority job applicants face an uphill battle.