Fighting Bias in the Workplace


Many people around the globe today find themselves cutting out pieces of their identity to have a better shot at landing a job due to discrimination or bias. No one should have to alter or hide parts of themselves to be successful in life. But this is the reality for those who don’t fit the description of a white, middle-aged man.

Discrimination on paper

At a diversity symposium event, Amy Carlene and Greg Head discussed how to prevent being discriminated against by an employer. When hunting for a job, biases first develop on paper with the applicant’s resume. Employers are quick to start making assumptions on many aspects of a person, including the person’s name, level of education, home address, past work experience, gender, age and race.

Statistics have proven that “since 1989, whites receive on average 36% more callbacks than African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos.” Until discrimination and bias in the workforce is erased, there are some ways people can modify their resumes that will work in their favor.

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Relevance is key

A resume should not be a tell-all book but rather a mini-story. The most essential elements to include is their skillset in the workforce and a brief description about their education history. However, every case is contextual and depends on where the person is applying. You may want to include more details if it is relevant to the hiring employer. The employer does not need to know where you sleep at night. Thus, a city and state location is sufficient. Home addresses can reveal a person’s income level and invite biases.

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Different cultures have different names that may be harder to pronounce in another country. It may be advantageous for a person to shorten their name to just first and middle initials and a last name. Employers sometimes make biased assumptions about race from names on resumes.

In a study conducted at the University of Chicago, “white-named [applicants] got 50% more callbacks than the black names, regardless of the industry or occupation.” It may feel uncomfortable for someone to change their name, but it is simply just a suggestion to increase their chances of getting an interview.

Changing from within

In a perfect world, employers would hire applicants based on their work ethic and not their uncontrollable physical characteristics. However, this is not the case and some action should be taken by employers. In-depth staff training about discrimination and bias in the workplace would be highly beneficial. Furthermore, eliminating categories like race, age, and gender from an application before a manager sees it would be a step in the right direction.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

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