Ethnic minorities may lose job opportunities if they are not connected to work-related social networks, according to a new ESRI study on combating racial discrimination in the labor market.
A report published today by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that “people from minority ethnic groups and immigrants may face significant discrimination in employment. Several field experiences indicate a significant level of discrimination in employment, particularly of non-Western immigrants and/or ethnic minorities, Although the effects vary across countries.”
To combat this, ESRI analyzed international research on racial discrimination in the workplace, including legislative and legal remedies, as well as affirmative action and equal opportunity policies and the use of new technologies, such as algorithms in the hiring process.
Among its findings, it found that “social networks play an important role in hiring and understanding labor market inequality,” which is particularly true in areas such as the hospitality and retail sectors that may rely more on word of mouth than job advertisements, according to ESRI. Investigator and lead author of the report Dr. Frances McGinnetti.
“Social networks are very important in hiring but ethnic minorities may not hear about networking if employers are hiring informally,” she told The Independent.
Noting that a significant number of the cohort between the ages of 24 and 30 are recruited by word of mouth or networking, members of ethnic minorities who are not included in these outreach groups may lose employment or employment opportunities in which recruitment practices are practiced Informality can harm minorities, she said.
The report is entitled Measures to combat racial discrimination and promote diversity in the labor market: a review of the evidence, It found that, “It is not surprising that efforts to address the lack of minority applicant networks have proven very effective. This includes interventions such as university outreach, internships and training, all of which will provide people from minority ethnic backgrounds with networks to access social capital. Along the same lines, That mentoring and sponsorship across groups have positive effects in terms of providing trainees/trainees with knowledge and access to aspects of the labor market.”
Among other findings, the authors found “there is little evidence that short-term training in unconscious bias leads to sustainable changes in behavior and outcomes in the workplace: changing employment and work practices is likely to be more effective.”
They also found that “diversity initiatives in organizations (such as diverse training programs) are most effective when people understand why they are being offered and when they are supported by majority and minority workers.”
Anti-discrimination legislation has also been cited as a positive step that “sends important signals about acceptable behavior and attitudes within society. However, such legislation is not self-enforcing: implementing the legislation is challenging and it is difficult to assess its effectiveness in deterring discrimination.”
The study also examined the use of new technologies, such as the use of algorithms and machine learning in recruitment and selection processes, which indicated “the ability to reduce discrimination in the labor market and increase diversity, as long as the algorithms used do not replicate past biases in hiring.”
“Our review shows that there is no single solution to combating discrimination in the labor market,” said Dr. McGinty.
“Ireland’s most effective strategy will include introducing and evaluating a set of actions, as well as clear communication of its objectives and effectiveness.”