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For Some Candidates, Discrimination is Subtle

"Since Obama was elected, we don't have a diversity issue anymore," one HR consultant I know said recently. She was being sarcastic. And, indeed, a number of black professionals continue to face high hurdles as they search for work, even when they have experience with top firms and degrees from top schools.

Between January and October 2009 the disparity in joblessness between whites and blacks with college degrees was more severe than it was for those without them, writes Michael Luo in the New York Times. "Education, it seems, does not level the playing field - in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven," he says. He goes on: "The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates - 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent."

According to African-American job seekers who spoke with Luo, the discrimination they face is often subtle, evidenced by "surprised looks and offhand comments, interviews that fell apart almost as soon as they began, and the sudden loss of interest from companies after meetings. " One University of Chicago MBA told of an initial meeting with a money management firm: His two interviewers seemed stunned when they met him for the first time. "Their eyes kind of hit the ceiling a bit," he told Luo. "It was kind of quiet for about 45 seconds."

"Whether or not each case actually involved bias," Luo says, "the possibility has furnished an additional agonizing layer of second-guessing for many as their job searches have dragged on."

AUTHORMark Feffer Insider Comment
  • Ju
    Juan Cornejo
    11 December 2009

    As latino guy, I have felt some level of discrimination in interview processes. I think this is normal in the current economic environment; even as an MBA graduate from a top business school recruiters prefer native american or the best advice is to be very, very good prepared for the interviews and prey for the economic recovery

  • Th
    10 December 2009

    Irrationality is woven into the fabric of humanity and is part of our nature. This article is unfortunately a reality. Often times there are many variables involved in hiring decisions when considering candidates of both equal and un-equal standing. Most reasoning behind hairline decisions would suprise many of us. For some, the locus of control is imagined and whether or not one wants to recognize or admit such exists, discrimination is around and prevalent within our society. It is not imagined. The main players (i.e., race, gender, disability, religion, age, etc) are thriving in one way or another. There has been evolution, as with all things - it has become more covert. My suggestion - Do the best you can as an individual and within each circumstance, remember that perseverance is key.

  • be
    10 December 2009

    Does it really matter for black folks to prepare? No and absolutely not. They just don't want want and like us. Period.

  • Th
    The Dilettante
    9 December 2009

    They don't want to waste time. Regardless the above article, I guess in your case that if they called you for face to face interview-assuming your name sounds Indian- that just means they were interested in your application; but you may have rather failed your interview. Didn't think about that? Otherwise, they would be completely irrational. Advise of the day: Very very very well prepare interviews- even more given the current environment. Cheers

  • al
    2 December 2009

    I also experience the same shuttle discrimination. I am Indian. i don't understand why do the call for face to face interview when they don't want to select us.

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