Tools & Tips

Hiring Discrimination – Callback rates nearly 50% higher for applicants with “white” names

A different name alone can dramatically decrease the chances of being invited to a job interview. In the United States, a pioneering study found that the callback rate for a job interview was nearly 50% higher for applicants with “white” names (Emily Walsh and Greg Baker) than for otherwise similar persons with African-American names (Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones).

Callback rates nearly 50% higher for applicants with “white” names

Similarly, evidence from Sweden finds 50% more callbacks using a Swedish name than a Middle Eastern name when sending out otherwise equal applications to real job offers.

Application photos can aggravate the problem. When résumés of the same fictitious female character, differing solely in her name and application photo, were sent out in Germany, callback rates were strikingly different. In this study, the character’s first version with a German name (Sandra Bauer) had a callback rate of 18.8%, its second version with a Turkish name (Meryem Öztürk) a callback rate of 13.5%, and its third version with the same Turkish name, but additionally wearing a headscarf on the photo, a very low callback rate of just 4.2%.

Hiring discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation or religion is thus well documented. This is not only unfair and costly for the victims, but it also has substantial economic costs for society. So what if the key information categorising individuals into minority groups was removed from the application?

Innovative recruitment processes

Nowadays, more and more employers try to overcome prejudices and biases by relying on innovative recruitment processes. And new possibilities are becoming available. For example, GapJumpers, a Silicon Valley start-up, offers employers anonymous screening of job applicants. The idea is to reverse conventional hiring. Before submitting any documents or personal information, applicants take custom-tailored anonymous tests that take the specific job requirements into account. And just with the resulting test scores at hand, hiring firms decide whom to invite for interview.

This is just one example how to take advantage of technological progress to combat hiring discrimination. In the future, digital recruitment methods may even become standard. For example, LinkedIn has just announced to use artificial intelligence features in the hiring process. And unless human programmers insert prejudices and stereotypes in the underlying algorithms, there is hope for objective recruitment decisions.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Blind hiring is curbing biased decisions — using algorithms and AI

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