The issue of minorities and potential discrimination in hiring and recruiting practices is not a new area of focus in the study of business; however, it is an area that continues to have relevance today. While previous focus generally fell upon racial minorities (particularly African Americans) and gender (women), today’s definition of minorities in business has been greatly expanded. Minorities still seem to face greater challenges in the job market, and some would say that company hiring and recruiting practices are directly to blame for this. In essence, it is widely thought in popular conception that racial bias plays a large role in who gets hired and who does not.
This issue has been under study and scrutiny for decades, and the issue of minorities in business has not been resolved, in fact it has been expanded to include such groups as gay and lesbian men and women, and people with disabilities as minorities that may be passed over in the hiring process for their minority status. The issue has several perspectives and is continuing to be studied with greater emphasis on minority groups that were previously overlooked even by studies of potential discriminatory hiring practices.
According to a study on hiring practices, it may not necessarily be race or minority status that affects hiring processes but rather a perceived necessity within an organization to hire those that will fit in well in the company, who can be controlled by superiors with ease, this is also known as a power or political perspective on hiring practices (Cohen & Pfeffer, 1986). Although not directly related to race or minority status, perhaps recruiter perceptions of “sameness” (racial, gender, sexual orientation, etc…) being easier to control plays into this means of hiring, though it also may not be an underlying reason. Such issues of personal perceptions among hiring agents and recruiters can be difficult to account for and document. In spite of this, some studies indeed have shown that interviewers often rate interviewees that they see as similar to themselves higher than those perceived as different (Stoney Adler & Gilbert, 2006).
Another study, too, provides firm evidence that the race of the person in charge of hiring has a direct correlation to the number of African American applicants that get hired. On the whole, when white hiring agents are in charge African American applicants are far less likely to be hired than at companies where the hiring agent is African American (Stoll et al., 2004). This is somewhat disheartening in considering how hiring and recruitment practices affect minorities, as African Americans are one of the more well-known minority groups which makes one wonder then about statistics involving other, less discussed minority groups. One could even say this is a question of ethics in business practice, ethics and legality. Given the laws including the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disability Act, how or why is it that these situations are still so prevalent as to continue to warrant study and discussion?
To avoid the issue of discrimination against minority groups, many companies have taken to using various standardized assessments in hiring practices including cognitive ability tests. While cognitive skills tests and other such pre-screening assessments are useful tools in the hiring and recruitment process, they may only give the illusion of fairness. It is widely known that in cognitive skills tests, for example, that great sore differentials exist between white and black test-takers, which may lead to unintentional discrimination (Stoney Adler & Gilbert, 2006). While these assessments may be unintentionally racially biased, when it comes to other minority groups, such as homosexual applicants or older applicants, these assessments may prove useful in avoiding the pitfalls of hiring agents’ biases. In fact according to one study, implications that ageism, for example, in hiring practices is rampant has little substantiation (Morgeson et al., 2008). This could be due in part to these pre-screening assessments put into place at many business.
The only minority group discussed here not protected as a group by law is the LGBT community. Though much debated in popular culture, this minority group has not be focused upon widely in hiring and recruitment literature until recently. Clear evidence exists for discriminatory hiring practices against openly gay men according to studies (Tilesik, 2011), though the research is based largely upon self-assessments by employees and candidates leaving large room for error and bias.
All-in-all the issue of whether or not hiring and recruitment practices are discriminatory against minority groups is still an issue of concern. While legal measures have been taken to ensure against discrimination for a large number of minority groups some remain unprotected by law. And even with laws in place, it can be argued that recruiting agent bias (whether intentional or unintentional) may still have an effect upon which candidate gets hired and which does not. Then again, some studies indicate that bias and discrimination may be greatly exaggerated and that in fact other unrelated factors may account for hiring practices (particularly in regards to ageism). Thus, what we can glean from this subject is that it continues to warrant further exploration and discussion. As hiring and recruitment is a human venture, there is always room for subjectivity and personal bias to leach into the task, though it is important to try to make the process as objective as possible. Therefore, this issue of potential discrimination against minority groups in hiring and recruitment practices is an area that requires continued study for the foreseeable future.
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Stoll, M.A., Raphael, S., & Holzer, H. (2004, Jan.). Black Job Applicants and the Hiring
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