Research / BFI Working PaperFeb 16, 2023

Customer Discrimination in the Workplace: Evidence from Online Sales

Erin Kelley, Gregory Lane, Matthew Pecenco, Edward Rubin

Many workers are evaluated on their ability to engage with customers. We measure the impact of gender-based customer discrimination on the productivity of online sales agents in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using a novel framework that randomly varies the gender of names presented to customers without changing worker behavior, we find the assignment of a female-sounding name leads to 50 percent fewer purchases. Customers also lag in responding, are less expressive, and avoid discussing purchases. We show similar results for customers around the world and across workers. Removing customer bias, we find women would be more productive than their male co-workers.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Feb 25, 2024

Long-Range Forecasts as Climate Adaptation: Experimental Evidence from Developing-Country Agriculture

Fiona Burlig, Amir Jina, Erin M. Kelley, Gregory Lane, Harshil Sahai
Topics:  Energy & Environment
BFI Working Paper Feb 29, 2024

Competitive Job Seekers: When Sharing Less Leaves Firms at a Loss

Gaurav Chiplunkar, Erin M. Kelley, Gregory Lane
Topics:  Employment & Wages