The Adverse Impact of Web-Based Hiring on Minorities
I have come to believe that businesses have a lot of the most interesting and useful data around. Here is yet another example of how, with the right data, an incredibly simple analysis can make an important point in an extremely convincing way.
JobApp Network helps other companies to hire. Applications can be made either over the phone or online. Edgar Johns, an employee at JobApp Network, analyzed data his company had on over 25,000 applicants to restaurant and retail job positions.
Looking at means in the data, he found something striking. Of those job seekers applying by phone, more than 40 percent were minorities. When it came to applying over the web, the share of minorities fell to less than 20 percent. His conclusion: as firms move more and more toward taking only online applications, there could be an adverse impact on minority applicants.
You can read the whole analysis here.
I’ve heard people argue this point without data before, but I’ve never been convinced. While minorities, overall, do have less high-speed internet access at home, it would seem conceivable that internet access would not be that different among the types of people applying for similar jobs. Also, in principle, access to internet at places outside the home (e.g. schools or libraries) might be sufficient.
Data make the point in a way conjecture and anecdote cannot.