RIGHTS BLOG: Updates from the Department of Human Rights


“Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” - Name bias in Employment Applications the topic of a Senate Bill

Posted on 4/22/16

This week, during a Minnesota Senate hearing, the Tax Committee heard a bill to help address bias in hiring based on the applicant’s name.

Senator Kari Dziedzic (DFL – Minneapolis), introduced SF 3450, a bill that would provide a tax credit to employers for implementing a nameless job application review process when seeking candidates for an open position. This bill brings attention to an issue that has been well documented in social scientific research and is connected to Minnesota’s broader conversations about racial and gender based disparities in employment.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) conducted one of the most well-known research experiments on this issue. In the NBER study, research fellows sent resumes with either African-American- or European-sounding names and then measured the number of callbacks each resume received for interviews.

To see how the credentials of job applicants affect discrimination, the authors varied the quality of the resumes they used in response to a given ad. Higher quality applicants were given more labor market experience on average and fewer holes in their employment history. They were also portrayed as more likely to have an email address, to have completed some certification or degree, to possess foreign language skills, or to have been awarded some honors.

In total, the authors responded to more than 1,300 employment ads in the sales, administrative support, clerical, and customer services job categories, sending out nearly 5,000 resumes. The ads covered a large spectrum of job quality, from cashier work at retail establishments and clerical work in a mailroom to office and sales management positions.

The study, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination”, found a 50% gap in callbacks between European and African-American sounding names.  According to the authors, compared to a white applicant a black applicant needed an additional 8 years of experience on their resume to receive as many callbacks, and whites with higher quality resumes received 30% more callbacks than whites with lower quality resumes. The positive impact of a better resume for those with African-American names was much smaller.

Some additional findings from the study:

  • If the fictitious resume indicates that the applicant lives in a wealthier, or more educated, or more-white neighborhood, the callback rate rises. However, the effect does not differ by race.
  • Discrimination levels are statistically uniform across all the occupation and industry categories covered in the experiment. Federal contractors, sometimes regarded as more severely constrained by affirmative action laws, do not discriminate less. Neither do larger employers, or employers who explicitly state they are "Equal Opportunity Employer" in their ads.
  • Employers located in more African-American neighborhoods in Chicago were slightly less likely to discriminate. There is also little evidence that social background of applicants – suggested by the names used on resumes – drives the extent of discrimination.

In 2014, four researchers conducted an experiment, “An Examination of Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market for Recent College Graduates: Estimates from the Friend”, to understand the job market for recent college graduates in the wake of the Great Recession.

They submitted 9,400 fake resumes of nonexistent recent college graduates through online job applications for positions based in Atlanta, Baltimore, Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, Boston, and Minneapolis. They sent four resumes per job and randomly changed certain variables in the applications, such as college major, work experience, gender, and race.

White applicants received one call back per 10 resumes, applicants with African American names received one call back per 15 resumes; this gap of 50% is statistically significant. The discrimination gap existed in all seven cities, the lowest gap was in Baltimore and Portland, and the gap was consistent with those with business-related degrees.

The study found black applicants faced major discrimination when applying for jobs with a customer focus. Researchers looked for jobs with words like “customer,” “sales,” “advisor,” “representative,” “agent,” and “loan officer” in the description.

For jobs with descriptions that lacked those terms and were instead focused on interaction with coworkers, the level of discrimination collapsed. For job descriptions with terms such as “manager,” “administrator,” “coordinator,” “operations,” and so forth, the difference in callback rates based on race dropped.

These studies and others highlight bias, including implicit bias, which continues to exist in the labor market. Looking at hiring practices to minimize bias, such as nameless review of applications, are steps employers can take to ensure their hiring process is truly driven by the skills and experiences of the applicant.

To learn more about your rights under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, visit the MDHR website.

Equal Pay Day: Department releases first report under new law

Posted on 4/11/16

Today, as America recognizes Equal Pay Day, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights released its first Equal Pay Report, which is required under the 2014 Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton.

Equal Pay Report CoverNationally, Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year women on average have to work to catch up to men's earnings from the previous year.  Women in Minnesota make 81.5 cents to every dollar made by white male workers. The difference is more pronounced for women of color in Minnesota. For every dollar made by a white male worker:

  • Asian-American women make 70.6 cents.
  • African-American women make 61.5 cents.
  • Native-American women make 58.5 cents.
  • Latina women make 51.1 cents.

Because the wages of women play an increasingly prominent role in the income of families, equal pay for women has a significant impact across all of Minnesota’s society.

Under WESA, Minnesota law now requires that certain contractors of the State of Minnesota and metropolitan agencies obtain an Equal Pay Certificate from the Department and ensure their compensation practices have no disparate impact upon their female workers. MDHR is responsible for processing Equal Pay Certificate applications, issuing Equal Pay Certificates and auditing state contractors. For more information on the Equal Pay Report, visit the MDHR Website.

Financial Capability Month: Achieving Economic Stability in Minnesota by Eliminating Economic Disparities

Posted on 4/5/16

African America family and their houseThe statistics show Minnesota is experiencing a demographic change. People of color currently make up about 20 percent of the population and, in 20 years, that number will increase to 40 to 45 percent of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

If Minnesota is to achieve economic stability and maintain its position in the world market place, all Minnesotans must be positioned to succeed and achieve financial stability. As Minnesota celebrates Financial Capability Month in April, we must examine the issues facing the state.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is highlighting elements of financial stability, wealth creation, homeownership, and minority entrepreneurship throughout April. MDHR will celebrate success stories in Minority entrepreneurship including MAG Mechanical Chief Manager Tody Goze, and Element Boxing and Fitness, LLC founder Dalton Outlaw.

Becoming Fiscally Fit

In MDHR’s Chatcast on the Camphor Fiscally Fit Center, Commissioner Kevin Lindsey interviews Gloria Roach Thomas, Pastor of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church and Karen Carey-Bonner, Program Manager of Camphor Fiscally Fit Center. They discuss the center's work to help people facing financial challenges, build wealth and achieve the American dream of homeownership.

In MDHR’s program On the Margins: People and Communities Locked out of the American Dream, a panel of experts discuss the cultural differences regarding money, credit, and financial skills. The program discusses how Minnesotans can overcome barriers including reestablishing or rebuilding their credit, creating a family budget and preparing for homeownership.

Homeownership and its relationship to building wealth

In the United States, many people have been able to build wealth and pass it to their children through home ownership. Not all have benefited equally however. In Minnesota, 75 percent of the white population are homeowners, yet less than a quarter of African-Americans own their own homes.

“If we are going to have any effect on the reduction of poverty for future generations, we have to remedy things like wealth creation in the form of homeownership,” -Warren Hanson, President and CEO of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund

Commissioner Lindsey and a panel of experts discuss discriminatory practices such as predatory home lending, payday loans and credit discrimination in the MDHR program On the Margins: People and Communities Locked out of the American Dream.

Minnesota Conversations discusses the community’s response to this crisis in MDHR’s Minnesota Conversations: Housing – Opportunity, Equity and Wealth.

The Role of Minority Entrepreneurs in Minnesota’s Future Economy

From 2007 to 2012, there was a drop in business startups in all but one category – Entrepreneurs of color. Entrepreneurs of color employ more employees than Mayo Clinic (39,000) with 47,565 people employed. They created 63,000 jobs. Entrepreneurs of color are an untapped resource for Minnesota, and will drive the future growth of the state. These businesses are providing employment opportunities for individuals to become gainfully employed and in the future become entrepreneurs themselves. We must now examine how we can support these entrepreneurs going forward.

Listen to Minority Businesses in Minnesota: Report and Conversation with renowned Minnesota economists Dr. Bruce Corrie and Dr. Samuel Myers. They discuss the latest data on minority businesses in Minnesota with community leaders at Concordia University-St. Paul in September 2015.

Also worth viewing are:

On the Margins: Entrepreneurs (episode 1) –This half hour program, hosted by Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey, explores how all small businesses experience many of the same challenges, but minorities and women face additional barriers. The conversation also touches on why it's important for everyone that these entrepreneurs are able to succeed.

On the Margins: Entrepreneurs (episode 2) –Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey focuses on solutions to the challenges facing entrepreneurs, particularly people of color and women, in starting and growing their businesses in Minnesota.

Governor Mark Dayton supports a strong economy for all Minnesota and the expansion of economic opportunities and elimination of disparities for Minnesotans of color. As part of a statewide effort to eliminate racial and economic disparities, Governor Dayton has included $900,000 in his 2016 supplemental budget for MDHR to improve enforcement of state law.

As Minnesotans, we all have a role to play both individually in teaching our children financial skills and as a community to build Minnesota’s future as an economically stable and vibrant business community.