UK has a discrimination problem when it comes to hiring


British employers appear more likely to racially discriminate than the Germans and Dutch. (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
British employers appear more likely to racially discriminate than the Germans and Dutch. (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

A person with a non-white name is more likely to be racially discriminated than others during hiring in the UK, a new study has revealed.

The study looked at 200,000 job applicants across nine countries and found the advantage of having a white-sounding name. Researchers analysed data from 97 previously conducted field experiments in Canada, the United States, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Norway and Germany for the study.

“In every country we consider, nonwhite applicants suffer significant disadvantage in receiving callbacks for interviews compared with white natives with similar job-relevant characteristics,” the study authors wrote. “This difference is driven by race, not immigrant status.”

Discrimination levels were highest in France and Sweden and Germany ranked low on the hiring bias chart.

Job applicants in Germany have to submit a lot more documents, including their school results, and “we suspect that this is why we find low discrimination in Germany — that having a lot of information at first application reduces the tendency to view minority applicants as less good or unqualified,” said Lincoln Quillian of Northwestern University in the US.

In France, it is illegal to ask applicants about their race.

“The French do not measure race or ethnicity in any official — or most unofficial capacities, which makes knowledge of racial and ethnic inequality in France very limited and makes it difficult to monitor hiring or promotion for discrimination,” said Professor Quillian.

Quillian said that the nine nations studied were the only ones with enough data to support systematic comparisons across countries.

“I don’t think it’s the case that the countries that aren’t in our analysis have lower discrimination… in fact, if anything, it may be the opposite,” said Quillian.