The University of Sydney proves recruiters in Australia are racist

The University of Sydney proves recruiters in Australia are racist

Chinese people are routinely discriminated against in the labour market in Australia when applying to jobs with CVs.

In May 2020 University of Sydney researchers published their research ‘Racial discrimination and white first name adoption: a field experiment in the Australian labour market’ in the Institute of Labor Economics as a discussion paper.

The compelling and thorough experiment conducted by the paper’s authors by Shyamal Chowdhury, Evarn Ooi & Robert Slonim, demonstrated widespread discrimination against people with Chinese names in Australia when applying for jobs.

Background to the experiment

The University of Sydney researchers wanted to understand if there was any discrimination against people with Chinese names when applying for jobs in Australia.

The authors decided to use Chinese minorities to study in Australia because:

  • Their significant presence in the labour market
  • Their distinctly identifiable names
  • Their widespread adoption of white-sounding names
  • Their similar levels of human capital to other local workers

Showing racism in Australia’s labour market

To test if there was discrmination, they devised a fascinating experiment.

They applied to more than 1000 jobs with a variety of fictitious CVs to various open positions in Australia. They applied to a wide range of both low and high skilled roles.

The CVs were split into 3 groups:

  • Group 1: Anglo first & last names (e.g. David Smith)
  • Group 2: Chinese first & last names (e.g. Xiaopeng Wang)
  • Group 3: Anglo first name & Chinese last names (e.g. David Wang)

They then applied to more than 1000 roles, using these different CVs, selecting them on a random basis. Of course, the employers did not know the CVs were fictitious and screened them like any other CV.

The researchers then measured the interview callback rate they received across the 3 groups, and the results were shocking, if perhaps not entirely surprising.

  • Group 1 Callback Rate: 12%
  • Group 2 Callback Rate: 4.4%
  • Group 3 Callback Rate: 8.1%

This means that someone with a Chinese first name and Chinese last name has only the chance of getting a call back to a job as someone with white first and last names. This is truly appalling, and should not be allowed to go on.

Key learnings for organisations

Of course, race is only one dimension that can be used to discriminate against candidates. The issue is that organisations typically start their hiring process by requiring candidates to submit a document that reveals their gender, ethnicity, age, religion and numerous other irrelevant factors. The traditional hiring approach is fundamentally flawed, and it’s up to all of us to change it and move to a more objective hiring approach.

Getting rid of CVs and adopting a skills-based hiring is a great step forward and a reasonably quick win.

Tired of the BS? Check out our definitive guide to diversity hiring.

Hear from leading Alooba customers who have already said no to discrimination

We were very quickly quite surprised with the quality of candidates we would get from Alooba. We ended up hiring eight different analysts via Alooba in about a year's time, which is quite extraordinary for us because we actually have almost never used a recruitment agency for any role. It has been our best outsourcing solution by far.

Oz Har Adir, (Founder & CEO)

Ready to replace CVs with skills-based screening?