What is it about?

Discrimination that occurs in context of either of hiring or promotion decisions is, by law, illegal in many developed countries. Discrimination either is implicit, that is, unconscious, or explicit. As anyone very well can imagine, in economies within which discrimination is explicitly illegal, it hardly ever is explicit or overt, rather typically is fudged or unconscious. Since introduction of illegality of discrimination in context of Title VII in the United States, and in other developed countries of the world, a legal rubric that is rooted in formal theoretical establishment of a process via which corporate rubrics that, themselves, seem objectively formulated, are infused with implicit (fudged or unconscious) discrimination had yet, prior to this study, to be established. Giving fudging of discrimination is difficult to prove, in the United States, the legal doctrine focuses on establishment of implicit (unconscious) discrimination. Discrimination feasibly can be implicit whenever hiring or promotion entities are predominantly of one race, or several races, and an applicant is of a race that does not have any representation within the hiring or promotion entity. Feasibility of discrimination does not, itself, however, establish occurrence of discrimination. Occurrence has to be established on basis of reasonable doubt that actions of hiring or promotion entities are not discriminatory.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This study provides a formal theoretical rubric for ascertainment of occurrence of implicit (unconscious) discrimination in context of either of hiring or promotion decisions. In this respect, the study establishes exactly how the legal process can go about ascertaining whether corporate evaluation tools for ranking of candidates for jobs or promotions yield outcomes that can be shown to be biased by presence of implicit (unconscious) discrimination within populations of recruiting or promotion committees of corporate organizations. If corporations within a spatial location all, typically are mainly of a specific race, a person belonging to another race can, absent any collusion across corporations, experience discrimination that turns out to be systemic. A person belonging to a different race, and who is characterized by a relatively unique portfolio of achievements is predicted to be more likely to encounter implicit discrimination. The source of implicit discrimination in the formal theoretical model is the 'natural empathy' that subsists between a hiring or promotion committee made up of persons from a particular race, and applicants who belong to same race. Absent any malice towards applicants from other races, this natural empathy has feasibility of translation into implicit discrimination that systemically denies opportunities to persons who are deserving, that is, who rank as highly as applicants whose profiles blend with those of the hiring or promotion committee, but who belong to other races.


The finding that persons who belong to minority races, and that are characterized by unique portfolios of achievements are more likely to encounter implicit discrimination, provides a formal theoretical basis for the finding, in other studies, that diversity of portfolios, which is linked to diversity of racial configurations, is associated with superior organizational performance within corporations. The reasoning is straightforward. In absence of diversity, corporations keep on loading up on exactly the same skills, upside of which, of necessity declines over time. In the decision to recruit for diversity, there is introduction of new skills or portfolios and opportunity for building of new competencies, resulting in boosts to corporate performance. Preponderance of empirical evidence establishing that hiring committees of organizations tend to hire to suit 'likings' of committee members, as opposed to relevance of candidates to organizations (see for example, Adkins et al. 1994) establishes ubiquity and seriousness of presence of implicit discrimination within job markets of the United States.

Dr Oghenovo A Obrimah
Fisk University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Absent Collusion, Can Micro Level Discrimination Aggregate into Macro Level Discrimination?, SSRN Electronic Journal, January 2019, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3399753.
You can read the full text:




The following have contributed to this page