Released on January 26, 2021

A study of recruiters’ behavior searching for candidates on a jobs website in Switzerland found that rates of contact are 4% to 19% lower for job seekers from immigrant and minority ethnic groups. It also found that time of day has an impact — particularly just before lunch and at the end of the day.

The study was reported by the London School of Economics and Political Science and it was published Jan. 20 by the journal Nature.

Researchers developed a methodology for the study that tracked recruiters’ behavior on websites and machine learning. In the past, researchers studied discrimination by sending fictitious résumés that are identical except for a randomized minority trait to be tested (for example, names that are deemed to sound “Black” versus those deemed to sound “white”). The new methodology allowed for greater collection of data.

In the study, researchers used the Swiss public employment services online platform, which operates similarly to commercial websites.

“Our results demonstrate that recruiters treat otherwise identical job-seekers who appear in the same search list differently, depending on their immigrant or minority ethnic background,” said Dr. Dominik Hangartner, co-author of the study and associated professor in political science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “Unsurprisingly, this has a real impact on who gets employed.”

It also found that women were 7% less likely to be contacted by recruiters when applying for roles in professions dominated by men, such as construction. The same held true for men who were less likely to be contacted for professions dominated by women.

Another finding: There were only very small differences in the time spent by recruiters on profiles of job seekers from immigrant and minority ethnic groups relative to those from the majority population. This showed it was unlikely recruiters used ethnicity as a quick way to screen out these job seekers.

However, recruiters spent less time looking at all candidate profiles during certain times of day, and during these times members of minority ethnic groups faced up to 20% higher levels of discrimination. The times when recruiters looked at profiles more quickly were just before lunch, from 11 a.m. to 11:59 a.m., and at the end of the day, from 5 p.m. to 5:59 p.m.

“These results suggest that unconscious biases, such as stereotypes about minorities, have a larger impact when recruiters are more tired and fall back on ‘intuitive decision-making,’” Hangartner said.

Results from the study could be used to redesign job websites to reduce discrimination, he said.

“We are optimistic that at least part of the discrimination that we document in this study can be overcome by re-designing recruitment platforms,” Hangartner said. “For example, more relevant information such as a candidate’s work experience and education could be placed at the top, and details which might indicate ethnicity or gender, such as name or nationality, could appear much lower down the CV.”

Original author: Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) | Daily News