Friday, January 05, 2007

CAN'T A BROTHER GET A JOB

I don’t consider myself to be one of those people who blogs about news stuff. I figure that any currentish thing I know iscommon knowledge and there are people who are much better at news blogging than I. I came across a post about a study that came out of Princeton at Rachel’s Tavern (an excellent blog about racism, sexism, and other isms that you should check out) and realized that I just had to write about it too. I suppose it doesn’t qualify as real news because the study is over a year old so I can still be a non-news blogger type.

You can read the full study here and I’ll sum up. A group of White, Black, and Latinos were sent out to look for entry-level jobs. They were all well-spoken, 22-26 years old, most were college educated, between 5ft10in and 6ft, similarly attractive (though who judged that I’m not sure), and were assigned fictitious similar resumes. They all presented themselves as High School graduates with a steady work history in entry-level jobs. In some cases they also claimed they had a felony conviction. Getting either a callback or an on-the-spot hire was seen as a positive outcome. 23% of Whites had positive outcomes, 19% of Latinos, and 13% of Blacks. Pretty depressing numbers in general but particularly for Black job seekers. Guess what? That’s who I work with. I was utterly depressed. Not surprised though.

The study just got worse the further I read. They did a second test group and looked at the figures comparing white applicants with a felony vs. Latino and Black applicants with no record. 13% of White Felons had positive outcomes (much lower than the White participants with no record), 14% of Latinos with no record were called back and 10% of Blacks with no record were called back. Although it isn’t a huge statistical difference it showed that Whites with a felony were still more likely to get called back than Blacks with no record.

Finally, they looked at how often people were offered a job different than that which they had applied for. It was seen if they were recommended to take either a lower, higher, or lateral position than which they had initially applied for. Black applicants were often channeled into lower positions and were never channeled upward. Latinos were channeled down in fewer cases than Blacks and were also never channeled upward. White applicants were channeled down the same amount as Latinos but only when reporting a felony conviction. The White applicants were often channeled up to positions they hadn’t done before and on one occasion asked to take a management position.

We aren’t talking about rocket science here people. We are talking about Sales Associates, Waitstaff at casual restaurants, and manual laborers. These are the types of job that just about anyone should be able to handle. These are the jobs that people are always telling unemployed people to go get. These are jobs at McDonald’s. I would imagine it gets worse when you go up the corporate ladder. It really makes you think.

If anyone has been in the job market in the past 6 years (and the way things are going most people have) you may have noticed it is getting harder out there in general. To go into a tight market with such a marked disadvantage is incredibly daunting. It almost makes someone want to just say screw it all and sit at home on their asses. Eventually, they won't have a home to sit in and they'll be out on the streets and the same people will be telling them to get a job never realizing that getting a job drove them to homelessness in the first place. Ok that may be extreme but who knows.

I also realize the study only dealt with men. From my experience as a job counselor, Black women seem to have an easier time of finding work than Black men. I haven’t done an in-depth study about it but my years of experience point me in that direction.

Unfortunately, the study didn't really give any suggestions on how to counteract this trend. I guess sociologists don’t often give solutions, that is more of a public policy paper or something. A lot has been said about taking people’s names and addresses off resumes before a hiring manager gets to them. That ALMOST makes sense unless you have ever done hiring. When you hire for a position you generally get 100+ resumes. Think of the hours it would take for someone to sit and black out the names and addresses on 100 resumes. If everything was done by computer (and we seem to be moving that way) it would be much easier, just a few lines of code. Of course, eventually we get to a face-to-face interview and then all bets are off.

99 Problems, Jay-Z- One of the teachers my sister works with played this song for his class because he was trying to prove some point that I don’t remember. She was mystified as to why a song with bitch in the chorus was used to teach. She had a good point. She thinks the teacher wanted to look cool and that was the only rap song he knew.

Miss Misery, Elliott Smith- Once when Monica and I were walking home from the Belle and Sebastian concert she was talking about how stupid and selfish Elliott Smith was for killing himself. People around us got a little sassy. Whatever, she had a good point.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Beach Boys- This really reminds me of Belmont Apartment and Monica and Jamie. I think they were really on Pet Sounds for a while. It is possible that I just made that up completely. I am not really sure. It still reminds me of them.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

you know, may be Elliott didn't kill himself, we don't know the whole story, and believe me there are a lot things that make people suspicious.

Kiyotoe said...

appreciate you sharing that study. Unfortunately it's nothing new, but if they're conducting studies on it, maybe one day like 10 years from now, someone will start to act like thay care about a remedy...

'ya think?

Mood Indigo said...

ugh, racism. At Christmas my nephew was watching a movie and he came running into the room to tell us about it. He kept referencing the really bad "black" character - and my mom and I were trying to figure out if it was someone in a black costume, or simply a black person. Either way (we never saw the character in question), the message the show sent was chrystal clear - black is bad. My nephew is being raised in a home where that would never be an acceptable interpretation - but it was amazing to see how clearly this one show painted that picture for a small child. I don't know how we'll ever put prejudice to rest if we allow such stereotypes from such an early age. Clearly it's just a small part of the problem - but startling, none the less.

Morgen said...

Now I have "wouldn't it be nice" stuck in my head, thankyouverymuch. I almost forgot what I was going to comment about: racism in hiring.
As a former HR manager for a large national retail chain, I can tell you that male white hiring managers were FAR more racist in general than women of any color. I prided myself in the exclusion of that - probably because I'm gay - but I saw first hand that not only hiring managers but upper management (especially when they sat in on an interview) tended to hire people they could identify with or were not threatened by.
Oh, and in corporate retail, it's called "diversity" hiring, not racist. Right...
Excellent post, as always, Nat!
Now, if I can only get that blasted song outta my head...

Katrina said...

Great post. It's so sad that in this day and age it's still so bad out there.

I watched a news show where they were talking about white vs. black people looking for rentals. How the "voice" of one race would either hinder or help them. It was very interesting.

Mom said...

To quote Stevie Wonder (1980), "You might have the cash, but you can... not cash in your face." He was talking about not being able to get housing, but the principle is the same. And the studies keep on studying. And we need to keep on teaching anti-racism, trying to get people to take action. Because racism is alive and well in 2007, and is still killing people every day.

notfearingchange said...

yeah that's actually a pretty popular study. Did you know that height also plays as a predictor in jobs and job promotion...go figure.

Have you ever experienced age-ism? That is not fun either....

thethinker said...

These kinds of studies are scary. I see no reason why people of equal capabilities can't get the same opportunities offered to them.

(By the way, I love the Beach Boys song.)

Monica said...

I don't know if Jamie had a Pet Sounds period but I definitely did. I guess you might be referring to when she and I used to sing "God Only Knows" constantly and dance on the counter at work when it came on.

Oh man I remember those Eliot Smith kids when we were coming out of the Belle and Sebastian show. I thought I just started going on about suicide in general when they were irritatingly mourning him...then they got surly.

ShadowFalcon said...

I've been trying not to believe this.

It's sad but I work in a very "white" profession and despite this being a multi cultural city there are only two people of non-white decent in my office (including me). Moving jobs is a nightmare task cos I know even though it shouldn't my name has a lot to do with the lack of call backs. My husband suggested I change my name to his (he's Irish), cos in the long run chances are I'll have more luck. I didn't want to believe him...

Natalie said...

Kiyote- Yeah nothing new at all. Unfortunately too few people think about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone cared to do something?

Mood- It is so hard to change anything so pounded into people as racism and it is so widespread it's had to do anything without encountering it. Hopefully more homes where it isn't acceptable will pp up and it will slowly become less of an issue.

Morgen- Sorry about the song. I think people in general want to hire people they feel comfortable with but come on, are folks of color all that scary? Glad to know you were bucking the trend, not that I would expect anything less from you.

Katrina- Voice does make a difference. I can't say how many times I call a client and whoever answers the phone will say "there's some white lady on the phone". It never fails to make me mad but I have a great apartment so....

Mom- Good song. You are right that we need to keep teaching otherwise people can decide it's been solved.

Notfearing- It was interesting that in this study they actually only let tall people participate I guess to eliminate other biases. As a short brown person it is amazing that I have a job at all. Ageism is a whole nother story. I get it about music sometimes but rarely experience it. Maybe cause I am so mature hahaha.

Thinker- Cause that would be too much like right.

Monica- Sounds about right on both accounts.

Shadow- It is one of those sad realities. I have had clients who use other names on resumes and sometimes are more successful. People just shouldn't have to.