Racial Discrimination Practices in Recruitment and Selection

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 15
Words: 4151
Reading time:
17 min
Study level: PhD


Unequal treatment of persons based on color of skin or races, especially in workplaces is known as racial discrimination. Many studies indicate that the black people are broadly known to be victims of racial discrimination, especially in multicultural work environments. Some of the contributing factors to racial discrimination include stereotyping and demeaning of black people among others. It can be seen as an act, exclusion, distinction, restriction, and/or preference that is done based on race, color of the skin, nationality, and/or ethnic background with an aim of belittling some individuals or groups. Facilitators of such acts usually infringe the rights and freedoms of other people based on the above factors. Racism in the employment domain is on the rise due to the increased rate of animosity that is caused by the differences in skin color or particular behaviors where black people are perceived as minorities globally. This act is an indication of the failure to embrace proper multiculturalism tenets and diversity inclusiveness across the employment sectors. The thesis presents an investigation of racial discrimination practices in recruitment and selection in workplaces by focusing on the case of Forbes, Burton, and an applicant who was discriminated against his skin color.

Literature Review

This section presents the works of other researchers on racial discrimination at workplace by viewing the following topics.

Direct Racial Discrimination

According to Price and Wolfers (2010), direct racial discrimination is mostly depicted in situations where Black employees are denied job opportunities in companies that are owned by other races. The situation is also evident where such persons are granted lower job groups as compared to their counterparts from different races, especially the Whites (Price & Wolfers 2010). For instance, various cases have been witnessed where managers in companies that are owned by the Whites decline to employ people of the Black origin because of racial and geographical disparities regardless of the possession of the set job requirements.

García‐Izquierdo, Moscoso, and Ramos-Villagrasa (2012) attest that discrimination in the work place leads to incurrences of losses in organizations. In addition, it tends to make the companies have staggering productivity because the qualified persons are denied chances to secure jobs due to discrimination (García‐Izquierdo, Moscoso, & Ramos‐Villagrasa 2012). Various sources have also revealed that Black people can be discriminated through exposure to filthy or unhealthy work conditions. In other cases, some employers establish job specifications that discriminately target certain groups. In such cases, skin color can be considered a disqualifying factor (Sellers & Shelton 2003).

According to Sellers et al. (2006), the Blacks also experience payment disparities where they earn less as compared to their White counterparts in the same job categories. For instance, Sellers et al. (2006) note a case where a Black person is offered a promotion in a company owned by a White person. However, the employee is assigned a monthly salary that is incomparable with those of their White counterparts with the with the same job qualifications. Matters that pertain to sick leaves and other privileges that the White employees enjoy can be denied to the Blacks (Sellers et al. 2006). This situation can bring about demotivation and eventually result in reduced productivity both at the individual and organizational levels.

Indirect Discrimination

Some companies provide policies and practices that are aimed at denying particular gender equal opportunities regardless of whether they are applied to all the workers. This situation is evidenced where a company seeks to employ masculine candidates who have gained a height of six feet (Sellers et al. 2006). Inclusion of Black employees leads to diverse ideas that are implemented in an attempt to accomplish a common goal. This situation boosts the company’s returns because results in overall improvement in production. However, such personnel are unavailable in a discriminative setup; hence, a dwindling productivity is feasible in organizations that hold such prejudicial practices (Sellers et al. 2006).

Harassment in the Workplace

Racial harassment and abuse of employees in the workplace can be viewed as a form of direct discrimination. It usually occurs when an uncouth and unacceptable action is executed based on race. This practice is done with an aim of intimidating or degrading a person of a particular race (Deitch et al. 2003). Some employers portray behaviors that violate the dignities of other employees. Such behaviors also cause intimidation, humiliation, and embarrassment; hence, they make the less privileged employees look inferior. For example, some bosses discriminate their Black women secretaries while at work to a point of threatening to fire them if they defy their interests (Krieger et al. 2006). Such employers create a fearful work atmosphere that leads to discomfort. As a result, lower productivity is inevitable due to confusion, work pressure, and fear of losing jobs (Deitch et al. 2003). Harassment can also result in stereotyping, especially where male workers of a particular race dominate the labor force. The minor race can be undermined due to their less numbers that can match that of their majority counterparts. In the event of evaluation, such employees score low than their white counterparts even when they work harder. This situation lowers their self-motivation towards accomplishment of both personal and organizational objectives (Buchanan & Fitzgerald 2008). Such employees can end up resigning or seeking employment in other organizations where diversity inclusion is highly regarded. As a result, higher turnover rates are inevitable in such organizations where prejudicial practices are dominant. This situation leads to loss of time, money, and other resources that can be used to develop the company (Deitch et al. 2003).

Existence of Racism

Racism has been exhibited in many scenarios in education, healthcare, and civil service sectors among others. The education systems have occasionally portrayed the incidences of racism throughout their history. This situation has been seen in terms of segregation and discriminatory aspects and behaviors (Van Dijk 2006). Cultures that comprise the minority groups, especially the Blacks are said to be behind the dominating races (Millner 2006). Racism is also portrayed in education systems through various theories. For example, purely Eurocentric theories fail to promote diversity inclusion in organizations (Henwood 2000) affirms that the feminist theory that focuses on the empowerment of women in the society is silent on their skin color. Most institutions have strived to make both ends meet by integrating multiculturalism into the curriculum. However, there is inadequate work that has been done to comprehend the complexities of racism deeply (Harper, Patton, & Wooden 2009). This situation has led to rampant cases of racism in the present-day civilized society. For instance, in the case of Forbes and Burton, a manager refused to employ a Black person to make coffee for the White customers (Thomsen 2014).

Critical examinations of racism incidences in the health sectors have also been noted. Ridley (1995) observed the behavior of therapists who were assigned to counsel minority clients. To some extent, it was noted that the therapists used powers that led to poor delivery of treatment to the patients. In another case, a supervisor in a mental healthcare center assigned a patient to an intern for a counselling session. In this case, the patient was denied an opportunity to receive excellent healthcare service from the experienced therapist (Rollock & Gordon 2000). Another study involving 27 nurses that was conducted by Beck et al. (2005) in three care homes for elders revealed that Black people were treated differently as compared to the whites. The blacks were not cleaned up and were denied medicine. Furthermore, the supervisors, administrators, residents, and families in the place were practicing racism (Beck et al. 2005). Instead of appreciating the different cultural diversities and backgrounds that exist in the modern society, the field of psychology only tends to widen the gap that exists among races. This situation has increasingly led to stereotyping of cultures, especially those of the minority groups. As a result, researchers should handle issues that concern cultural diversity, races, and social backgrounds among others with more vigilance and a broader view of societal integration, especially in the workplaces (Beck et al. 2005).

The business sector is yet another area where racism is exhibited enormously. Racism is depicted in terms of the management systems, promotional techniques, operational procedures, and criteria for job selection among others. In a research that was conducted by Van Dijk (2011) to investigate racism in businesses, it was noted that the top-level managements of the Whites highly supported typecasting based on races more as compared to the Black counterparts. This set of circumstances led to a conclusion that the top management level was minimally in contact with the employees; hence, they were less concerned with issues that pertained to cultural diversity that existed within their organizations. For that reason, there was a heightened tendency of maintaining a stereotyping culture (Van Dijk 2011). A similar research that was conducted by Spencer, Zannar, and Fong (2005) revealed that the Black interviewees were perceived to receive non-verbal communication as compared to those of their white counterparts. In addition, the interviewers also perceived blacks as less skilled; hence, they were deemed inadequate for the job opportunities (Spencer, Zanna, & Fong 2005).

Racial discrimination in the workplace is on the rise worldwide. This problem is experienced in many organizations irrespective of the well-stipulated legislations that prohibit the behavior. For example, a report that was released by the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) in the USA showed that approximately 3,000 charges in courts were race-based discriminations in 2008 (Hammond, Gillen, & Yen 2010). In another instance, a research that was conducted by Hirsh and Kornrich (2008) revealed that revealed that workplace discrimination is primarily based on ethnicity, racial, and gender groupings. Asakura et al. (2008) echoed the same sentiments by reiterating that members of same gender, races, and/or minorities frequently reported cases of mistreatment and discrimination in their workstations.

A separate research that was conducted by the University of Chicago in 2004 indicated that there was a higher percentage of discrimination against the Black employees in most workplaces. The applicants whose names depicted some Black orient had less than 50-percent chances of securing jobs as compared to their fellow white applicants (Corrigan 2004). Barnes et al. (2008) attested that individuals who are treated unfairly due to their racial origin or personal traits are more likely to suffer from mental disability and other deteriorating conditions such as anxiety, distress, cardiovascular problems, and low birth weight to infants among others (Barnes et al. 2008). Racial discrimination in workplaces is seen to heighten the emotional demands of employees who are victims. Netterstrom et al. (2008) confirmed that issues that concern job strains lead to higher emotions that posed adverse effects to the wellbeing of the workers.

A study that was conducted by Bendick (2009) in the USA to investigate employment patterns indicated that the White people were given higher privileges in the workplaces as compared to the Blacks. They further elaborated that in restaurants, the minorities had less than 50 percent likeliness of securing jobs as compared to the Whites (Bendick, Rodriguez, & Jayaraman 2009). Upon getting the jobs in the premises, the employees faced varying treatments based on the color of the skin and origin. For instance, the White employees were more likely to be given offs and shifts as compared to the Blacks. The employers also had notions that the White employees were more competent in contrast to the Blacks (Bendick, Rodriguez, & Jayaraman 2009; Bhui et al. 2005).

Bendick, Rodriguez, and Jayaraman further conducted tests to evaluate the articulation of soft skills with a view of seeking how they influence the hiring trends of the employers. The research was based on vocalization of English. The tests made were 24 on pairing. Participants were combined as ‘whites without accent’ and ‘whites with slight accent of French’. Eight tests were also carried out. Pairing was done to those with ‘skin color without accent’ and ‘skin color with accents’. The results indicated that more Whites tend to have success in their job applications as compared to the black-skin color individuals (Bendick, Rodriguez, & Jayaraman 2009; Brief & Barsky 2000).

According to Moss and Telly (2001), racial discrimination in the workplace is exhibited among employers who tend to hire the Whites due to their skills in spoken English. They reasoned that the White employees were highly skilled. As a result, they were more reliable than the other races. They further clarified that the employees organized themselves in teamwork with the help of their supervisors. This situation was not practiced for the Blacks who were just expected to work independently (Moss & Tilly 2001).

A study that was conducted by Pager (2002) to analyze the handling of job applicants by most employers in the states of Milwaukee and Wisconsin revealed a high degree of favoritism based on color and race. The study focused on the probability of an applicant being called back for a job interview (Pager 2002). The applicants were issued with resumes that were sent to same employers. Both the Black and White applicants were also separated in based on criminal records. The result indicated that the Whites without criminal records had 34-percent callbacks as compared to the Blacks without records whose probability stood at 14-percent. It was evident that the Whites with criminal records scooped 17 percent. They were more likely to be called back as compared to the blacks without criminal records (Pager 2002).

Stage 1: Focus Group and Convergent Interviews

Focus group and convergent interviews were chosen in the research because various employees were willing to participate and discuss their ideas and perspectives concerning the interactions and behaviors of the management on the issue of racial discrimination in the workplace. The focus group is essential in cases of data collection that are based on qualitative research. This strategy enabled the researcher to see the expressions, attitudes, and depth of the respondents during the session (Hughes & DuMont 2002). The focus group revealed a lot of information when individuals in the group were stimulated to review the topic of discussion (Rao & Perry 2003).The purpose of the focus group was to get the views of employees on issues regarding discrimination in the workplace (Hughes & DuMont 2002).

The following procedure was used to collect information on the focus group. The information was deemed essential in the data analysis process:

  1. The respondents who accepted a video tape record session to be included in the process gave assigned permission to the researcher.
  2. The topic questions were availed in time to ensure that participation was encouraged. This step was done a week before the day.
  3. The participants, especially the victims and other employees, were interviewed.
  4. Attention was paid to gather all details during the session.
  5. All data was then included in the report.
  6. A comparison between the ideas and views of the groups was done with a view of analyzing discrimination in workplaces and selection processes (Hughes & DuMont 2002).

Questions discussed during the focus group and convergent interview sessions

Introduction to the session

The researcher introduced himself to the focus groups and respondents at the site where the interview was conducted. The following are the questions that were discussed by the focus groups.

What is “Race discrimination”?

Race discrimination is an action that is based on culture, skin color, texture, and facial features among others that are associated with an individual (Williams & Mohammed 2009).

Probe: How did you learn that this act is a form of racial discrimination?

What is color discrimination?

Color discrimination is the presentation of an unfair act towards a person based on the color pigment of the skin, shape, and/or tonal voice. Such kind of discrimination in the workplace is seen in a case where an employer declines to employ an African-American because of the skin color (Williams & Mohammed 2009). The example involved the Forbes and Burton Café where a Chinese employer refused to recruit a Black Brazilian employee who was supposed to be making coffee for White customers in Sydney.

Probe: If you are discriminated upon, how will you feel?

Are you protected against discrimination by your employers?

Probe: What actions do your employers prohibit against discrimination?

Have you ever heard of intentional discrimination? What is it?

A phenomenon where formulated decisions infringe the rights of an individual based on race and color attributes is known as intentional discrimination. This set of circumstances encompasses stereotyping and racial animosities. The impact is seen on the individual’s performance and traits among others (Williams & Mohammed 2009).

Probe: Do you think that your employers carry out intentional discrimination? Elaborate.

An example is seen where a White employer declines to employ a Black person who possesses the relevant qualifications. Based on inexplicable stereotyping, the manager claims that the person has an ugly image and does not speak English eloquently. This situation is a clear implication of racial discrimination. Both customers and employees can also contribute to intentional discrimination. For instance, White customers can develop a tendency to reject Black employees who are supposed to offer services to them. This situation is seen in the Forbes and Burton Café case where the manager reasoned that most of his customers were Whites who did not prefer Blacks to make them coffee (Thomsen 2014).

Do you have neutral policies in your premise?

Probe: Are these policies perceived as discriminative?

Some practices cannot be clearly stipulated in the policies of a business. However, they tend to discriminate some employees. For example, a policy that is implemented in a restaurant can silent about long hair or beards. This reasoning can lead to discrimination of individuals who have long beards against visiting the premise.

Do your employers practice racial discrimination when recruiting, selecting, and hiring employees?

Probe: What do your employers do to eliminate incidences of discrimination in the premise?

Case Research

Case studies are used to gather data qualitatively. These studies focus on identified situations with a view of seeking sufficient information concerning behaviors and judgments among others. Case studies are also useful where court reasoning is required. Based on racial discrimination in the workplace, the case studies are always useful where a deeper understanding of such situations is required (Holgate 2005).

The following procedures were used in the case study to gather information about discrimination. First, case information that was relevant was searched. The cases were then categorized in terms of state and federal groupings to ensure comparison and judgment. Determination of the criteria was accomplished based on the court’s reasoning to investigate whether such a case was racial discrimination. The variables were then analyzed. Other relevant data sources that were used included secondary and administrative materials. Direct observations were also paramount to data collection (Holgate 2005).

Example of a Case Study: Racial Discrimination by a Manager of the Forbes and Burton Café

The Fair Work Ombudsman is currently investigating the case stated above case. The victim, Mr. Nilson Dos Santos, reported that the owner of the Forbes and Burton Café in Darlinghurst, Mr. Steven Hu, denied him a job opportunity at the café due to his skin color. Mr. Dos Santo is a 39-year-old Brazilian-born who lives in Australia while Mr. Steve is a Chinese who recently moved to Australia in the last nine months where he opened the café (Thomsen 2014). Mr. Steve’s comment on Mr. Nilson was, “But you are Black, I don’t think you will be able to work in the shop. My customers are white and they do not like to have black people making coffee for them” (Thomsen 2014). Upon reception of such comments, Mr. Dos Santos addressed the patrons in the café and asked them if they had been facing problems when a Black served them. At that point, a staff member had to quit his job immediately. Other customers also walked away from the café (Thomsen 2014).

To defend his sentiments, Mr. Hu told Channel 10 that the majority of the baristas were either Asians or Whites and was just trying to provide his customers with the best service. Mr. Dos Santos has been working in Australia for over nine years as a barista; hence, he has adequate experience in the service. Many people in various social media supported Mr. Dos Santos. As a result, they were against the incident. The majority categorized the incident as racial discrimination in the workplace. Customers also threatened to keep off the premise. Many of the workers at the place further reported that they were unable to return to the place for their usual services of coffee if Mr. Hu continued to be the manager (Thomsen 2014). The Fair Work Act of 2009 prohibits discrimination against existing and prospective employees based on color, race, sex, sexual preferences, disability, age, mental status, family, religion, and socio-political opinions among others (Thomsen 2014).

Case Research Data Analysis

The Australian government is critical on matters that pertain to racism. The Racial Discrimination Act forbids discrimination against anybody based on the skin color. For this reason, most prejudicial circumstances end up in court proceedings. Dr. Tim who tweeted that the act was unacceptable under the RDA affirmed the Act saying that it was unlawful for one to discriminate against another on racial basis, especially during employment. Mr. Tim further commended people for their action against racism by condemning the incident. However, he cautioned people that they should not respond to comments of racism with narrow-mindedness (Thomsen 2014). The café was closed afterwards due to the pending investigation.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is currently investigating the incident. If Mr. Steve will be found guilty of committing the crime of racial discrimination, a maximum penalty of about $ 51, 000 for the premise and $10,200 per contravention to Mr. Steve Hu will be issued (Thomsen 2014). Based on the anti-discrimination commission, one is not allowed to deny an employee job opportunity because of religion and race among other prejudicing factors. Managers are not allowed to ask discriminative questions to candidates (Thomsen, 2014). Data that was obtained from focus groups was used in the analysis of the case. The researcher primarily reviewed data, compared, and contrasted the perceptions of the participants’ experiences on racial discrimination in workplaces. A coding technique was devised to the questions that were administered during the focus group. In the case, tree nodes were used to reflect information that had some relationships (Thomsen 2014).

The Basis of Claim on the Victim’s Perspectives

Mr. Dos Santos was directly discriminated by the manager: Mr. Steve Hu. From Mr. Dos Santos’ narration of the incident, it was both direct and indirect. First, the manager told him about his skin color. He felt despised by the manager. As a result, the customers prompted him to go ahead and ask the patrons if they experienced any problem when Black people served them. Mr. Dos Santos is an experienced barista who has worked in Australia for almost nine years and has never experienced such incidences of discrimination. This set of circumstances prompted him to seek justice since it was the first experience. The bitter feeling was because of anger. Instead of reacting to the employer, he chose to seek opinions of the patrons and customers in the premise (Thomsen 2014).

The Basis of Action of the Manager

The manager, Mr. Steve Hu, was only concerned with quality service delivery to the White customers at his premise. He did not take into consideration the issues of discrimination and implications of such actions. Presently, there is no room for ignorance since the RDA Act against discrimination exists in the Australian constitution and employment Acts (Thomsen 2014).

Conclusion and Implications

The thesis focused on the investigation of racial discrimination practices in recruitment and selection with reference to the Forbes and Burton Café case where the manager denied an employee a job opportunity because of his color of the skin. The collected qualitative data enabled the researcher to note various incidences of racial discrimination in a number of workplaces. In-depth convergent interview and focus groups helped in determining whether the managements, especially at the top level, practice racial discrimination in the workplaces. In cases where it exists, the thesis sought to highlight the relevant actions that they put in place to curb such problems. Many court proceedings are launched to handle cases of racial discrimination in workplace in an attempt to extend justice to victims. In the scenario of the Forbes and Burton Café case, the Fair Work Ombudsman is currently investigating the case to ensure that justice is administered to the victim, Mr. Nilson Dos Santos. Based on the media comments on the case, it can be seen that the case will be handled diligently. However, there is still a need to update the Australian policies concerning racial discrimination in the workplace. Organizations should stipulate strict regulations that should be followed to the later to curb incidences that arise due to racial discrimination. Racial discrimination prohibits appreciation of cultural diversities and teamwork among employees.


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