Insights / Research BriefApr 08, 2024

A Discrimination Report Card

Patrick Kline, Evan K. Rose, Christopher R. Walters
A new statistical methodology is used to grade the race and gender callback gaps of large US employers and shows that firms assigned the worst grade are estimated to favor white applicants over Black applicants by 24%, while those assigned the best grade favor white applicants by only 3%. Gender discrimination is rare at the interview stage and concentrated in certain industries.

Twenty years ago, Chicago Booth economists Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan published a seminal paper that studied racial discrimination in the labor market by sending fictitious resumes to help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers. They revealed that equivalent resumes with distinctively white names like Emily and Greg received 50% more callbacks for interviews than those with distinctively Black names like Lakisha and Jamal.

In 2021, Chicago economist Evan Rose, along with Patrick Kline and Christopher Walters, expanded Bertrand’s and Mullainathan’s work to a massive scale. Their experiment, detailed in “Systemic Discrimination Among Large U.S. Employers,” measures the callback rates from over 83,000 fictitious job applications sent to 11,000 entry level job openings at more than 100 Fortune 500 Firms. The research revealed a surprising fact: A small number of companies are responsible for a substantial amount of the contact discrimination measured.


Who are these firms?
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