White-Sounding Names Get More Job Callbacks Than Black Ones: Study

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Applicants with white-sounding names are more likely to get called back for a job than individuals with Black ones, according to a new study per NPR.

In a study published this month called "A Discrimination Report Card," researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago analyzed data from 83,000 fake job applications for 11,000 entry-level positions at various Fortune 500 companies.

Researchers found that the typical employer called back applicants with white-sounding names roughly 9 percent more than Black ones. The worst offenders called back presumably-white applicants 24 percent more than their Black counterparts.

The "Discrimination Report Card" published by the researchers names the 97 companies they included in the study and assigns each of them a grade to reflect their level of bias.

"Putting the names out there in the public domain is to move away from a lot of the performative allyship that you see with these companies, saying, 'Oh, we value inclusivity and diversity,'" Pat Kline, a University of California, Berkeley economics professor who worked on the study, said. "We're trying to create kind of an objective ground truth here."

The latest research is a follow-up to a watershed study conducted 20 years ago by two economists who responded to help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers with a set of fake names to test racial bias in the job market. They found that applicants with white-sounding names got 50 percent more job callbacks than Black ones.

The names used in the Discrimination Report Card included some from the 2004 study as well as others from a database of speeding tickets in North Carolina. Names were classified as "racially distinctive" if more than 90 percent of people who shared the name were the same race. For example, "Brad" and "Greg" competed for jobs against "Darnell" and "Lamar" in the fake applications.

Researchers found that companies in the auto industry, including Genuine Auto Parts (which distributes NAPA products) and the used car retailer AutoNation, were least likely to call back Black applicants. Companies including Charter/Spectrum, Dr. Pepper, Kroger, and Avis-Budget performed best in the discrimination report card.

Dorianne St Fleur, a career coach and workplace consultant who primarily works with women of color, said she wasn't surprised by the results as many of her clients hold the proper credentials and experience but aren't hired.

"They are sending out dozens, hundreds of resumes and receiving nothing back," she said.

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