Registration number: 1703118
The article analyses racial dynamics within the labour market, focusing in particular upon the phenomenon of “resume whitening” Kang et al., 2016, p.469()
. Resume whitening is defined by the authors as a process whereby black job candidates conceal or “dial back” racial cues on their resumes to make themselves be perceived more favourably in the labour market Kang et al., 2016, p.470()
. The article shows that resume whitening can potentially increase the chances of minorities in the job market and increase responses from employers (RT, 2016). The article also recognises the fact that organisations are increasingly embracing a pro-diversity platform, but argues that racial minorities continue to be well aware of the discrimination that they face and that, in fact, pro-diversity initiatives can often even be counter-productive Kang et al., 2016, p.498()
. To understand how the authors could arrive at such striking conclusions it is important to understand the structure of the article and the methodology upon which it is built. The article briefly begins by discussing some theoretical issues relating to race, stigma and self-presentation before moving on to present the findings of interviews, a laboratory experiment and a resume audit study and locating them within a wider theoretical framework. Near the end of the article there is a general discussion that highlights some core themes, such as bringing job seekers back in, the paradox of diversity statements and stigma management before a brief conclusion to the article is presented.
The research design is based upon a multi-method approach and the decision taken by the authors to use three different methods evolved as the study progressed (Zhang, 2016, n.p.). They realised that a diverse set of methods were required to satisfactorily answer their research questions and claim that “each step naturally flowed into the next” (Zhang, 2016, n.p.). Their claims are credible and the justification for their research design is largely convincing. Using a qualitative approach such as interviews of minority job seekers was appropriate, because the core aim is to measure the beliefs, attitudes and views of these minority job seekers Abell and Lederman, 2007, p.1072()
. The laboratory experimented focused upon how job seekers alter their resumes and it required a controlled environment in order to conclusively confirm the author’s findings (Zhang, 2016, n.p.). One of the core strengths of laboratory experiments is the ability to control the environment and the influence of extraneous variables and whilst it creates somewhat of an artificial environment this was necessary to assure control of the research setting and other variables Johnson and Christensen, 2010, p.285()
. Finally, an audit study was required in order to explore the consequences of resume whitening in the labour market and was directed at firms by sending fictious yet realistic job applications and...