White Job Applicants Received More First-Round Interview Invitations Than Equally Qualified Black Applicants

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Experts say racial bias is to blame for qualified Black applicants receiving fewer interview invitations than their white peers. (Photo by Steve Cole/Getty Images)

The U.S. hiring market hasn’t changed much for Black applicants in the last 25 years, according to a new analysis.

A study examining résumé responses and hiring practices found that white applicants were nearly a third more likely to be invited for first-round interviews than equally qualified Black applicants in 2015, Cetus News reported. That figure hasn’t changed in nearly 25 years and experts say racial bias in the U.S. job market is to blame.

Analyzing 30 separate studies on hiring outcomes between 1989 and 2015, researchers from Northwestern University, Harvard University and two European institutes saw proof that Black American applicants have made little progress in tackling discrimination within the job market.

“Even for well-intentioned employers who think about treating all applicants the same, bias is entering into their decisions,” said Lincoln Quillian, a lead researcher and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research.

Some of the studies featured responses to fictionalized résumés of matched candidates from different racial and ethnic backgrounds sent via mail or online, according to the news site. All of the résumés had similar education and work experience and differed only in the name on the application. Some applicants had ethnically identifiable names and other clues that pointed to the applicant’s race.

Some of the other studies examined how frequently companies followed up with people who applied for jobs in person and posed as equally qualified candidates of different races and ethnicities.

Despite a widespread push by corporate America to make diversity a top priority, companies’ efforts aren’t reflected in the numbers, as qualified Black applicants are still less likely to receive invitations for interviews. Quillian called the results surprising and pointed to surveys showing how whites are increasingly in favor of equal treatment for nonwhites.

Researchers did find a silver lining for minorities, however.

In 2015, Latino applicants were called in for interviews 10 percent fewer times than white white applicants with similar educational and professional experience, compared to 23 percent in 1990. They cautioned, though, that not enough studies included Latinos to come to a concrete conclusion.

Researchers said the results of the studies were all similar, regardless of the applicant’s gender, education and previous work experience.

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