Companies may seek to dismantle prejudice among their employees – but psychologists question whether these courses effect lasting change
Here’s a fact that cannot be disputed: if your name is James or Emily, you will find it easier to get a job than someone called Tariq or Adeola. Between November 2016 and December 2017, researchers sent out fake CVs and cover letters for 3,200 positions. Despite demonstrating exactly the same qualifications and experience, the “applicants” with common Pakistani or Nigerian names needed to send out 60% more applications to receive the same number of callbacks as applicants with more stereotypically British names.
Some of the people who had unfairly rejected Tariq or Adeola will have been overtly racist, and so deliberately screened people based on their ethnicity. According to a large body of psychological research, however, many will have also reacted with an implicit bias, without even being aware of the assumptions they were making.
David Robson is the author of The Intelligence Trap: Revolutionise Your Thinking and Make Wiser Decisions (Hodder & Stoughton, £9.99), which examines many strategies to overcome biased reasoning. To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.