Discrimination in the Job Market

Civil Rights issues and discrimination in the job market. Taking a look at statistics on the availability of employment and advancement for women and minorities like in the early twenty first century.

Discrimination in the Job Market
by Sharon Mooney

Society has made progress since the civil rights movement, however there is no way to deny racism and similar prejudice exists, not excluded from within the modern job market. I felt a worthwhile place to start proving this point would be through statistics.

First taking a look at discrimination against women, we can gather the majority of poor in America are females, many being of minority status.

Poverty Among Women

There are more women in the total population of the United States than men and there are more poor women than poor men in the United States. The total population of the United States is 266,218,000 and of that number 135,865,000 are females and 130,353,000 are males. The total population of poor in the United States is 36,529,000 which is 13.7% of the total population. There are 20,918,000 females that are poor which is 15.4% of the total female population and 57.2% of the total poverty population. There are 15,611,000 males who are poor which is 12.0% of the total population of males and 42.7% of the total poverty population. [...] gender plays a role in the poverty profile and women are more likely to be poor than men.

In a report by Sam Middlemiss, Senior Lecturer in Law, The Robert Gordon University states: "The term coined in the United States to cover this type of behaviour is lookism and in the UK is aesthetic labour." [...] Defined in the sixth edition of the Collins English Dictionary as “the hiring of employees for their appearance or accent in an attempt to enhance the image of the company."

Middlemiss goes on to state:

“A survey of skills needs in hotels, restaurant, pubs and bars, indicated that 85% of employers ranked personal presentation and appearance in third place - above initiative, communication skills or even ability to follow instructions.”

Far too much emphasis is placed upon appearances of individuals, whether it be their race, gender, their attractiveness or lack thereof, in the job market. [This would include one's skin color]. People should be judged as individuals based on their qualifications versus their exterior appearance. Perhaps, as the old saying has it, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Meaning, individuals who know their opportunities for employment in a stable and rewarding career are limited, perhaps feel less motivated to attempt acquiring the skills necessary to compete."

According to an expirament that was performed by Poverty Action Lab, with race in mind, the final results revealed an overwhelmingly apparent discrimination based on race. Resumes were submitted for the jobs listed in newspaper classifieds under sales, administrative, and clerical positions. Part of the resumes submitted contained information leading the employer to believe the submission was from a minority applicant, for instance submitting the application under a name likely to belong to a minority "Lakisha Washington or Jamal Jones". Poverty Action Lab concluded:

1. Resumes with white names received 50% more callbacks than those with black names.

2. There is evidence that the returns to improving credentials for whites is much higher than for blacks. Specifically, for resumes with white names, higher quality resumes received 30% more callbacks than low quality ones. For resumes with black names, the higher quality resumes did not receive significantly more callbacks.

3. Federal contractors and employers who list "Equal Opportunity Employer" in their ad discriminate as much as other employers.

4. Whites living in richer, more educated, or whiter neighborhoods have higher callback rates, but blacks do not benefit from this neighborhood effect.
In Chicago, employers located in black neighborhoods discriminate less against blacks.
Source: www.povertyactionlab.com

In an interview with Chandra Prasad, author of Outwitting the Job Market: Everything You Need to Locate and Land a Great Position, Mrs. Prasad suggested tactics which may help women and minorities work around the discrimination obstacles that exist in the job market.

Chandra's first suggestion, for those who are in search of employment is for college students to ask their career service center about any potential companies that may be stopping by campus to interview potential employees, and to submit a resume in advance. "Also ask what scholarships and internships are available specifically for women and/or minorities."

Her second suggestion for locating a company that is truly diversity-friendly "is to speak with someone within the organization." If you know somebody who works in the organization you can ask questions, otherwise be "observant". Some of the questions Chandra advises to ask:

1. Look around as you’re on your interview—do you see a diverse staff or a homogenous one?

2. Are the executive level and board of directors comprised of only white men? That should send you a message right there.

3. If you establish a comfortable rapport with your interviewer and decide you want to out-and-out ask about diversity within the company, listen carefully to his response. Does your interviewer give a pat and insubstantial answer? Or does he provide real and compelling proof that the company is committed to diversity by citing actual percentages of women and minorities who are employed or by offering details on programs and initiatives aimed at the recruitment and retention of these groups?

4. Another way to check on a company is to scan the web site of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Each month the site posts reports on major litigation settlements by various employers.

Chandra also covers the importance of mentors for women and minorities in the job marker, as experienced workers may have contacts that lead to more job opportunities, and can offer the encouragement necessary to achieve one's career goals. The article states:
A survey by Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization focusing on women in business [...] found that of 368 women of color, 69% who had a mentor in 1998 had at least one upward career move by 2001 compared to 49% of those who didn't have a mentor.

Chandra concluded her interview with IM Diversity to say:
The future looks very bright. Many companies are getting the message that the American demographic has shifted and will continue to shift. According to “Futurework: Trends and Challenges for Work in the 21st Century,” a report from the Department of Labor, by 2050 minorities will rise from being one in every four Americans to one in every two. Of course, smart companies know that to serve a diverse clientele they need a diverse staff. That is why we see minority and female hiring on the rise and why this trend will certainly continue. The next test, I think, is not women and minorities succeeding in the workplace, but climbing to the highest ranks in substantial numbers—and helping others up.

Source: www.imdiversity.com

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