Panel Paper: The Organizational Bases of Hiring Discrimination

Friday, November 9, 2018
Harding - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

David S. Pedulla, Stanford University and Devah Pager, Harvard University

A significant body of social science research provides compelling evidence that hiring
discrimination exists by race, gender, and parental status as well as other social positions. Much
of this scholarship has relied on audit study techniques, where the researcher sends matched pairs
of job applications to apply for real job openings while varying only the key characteristic of
interest between the applications (e.g., race or gender). While research utilizing this method has
provided compelling evidence about the existence of hiring discrimination, it has left open
important questions about the organizational features that may exacerbate or mitigate
discrimination at the hiring interface. How do formalized hiring practices, the use of technology,
and the demographic composition of management – for example – influence the biases that may
emerge during the hiring process? In this paper, we present findings from an original dataset that
matches direct measures of hiring discrimination from an audit study with detailed surveys about
the policies, practices, and demographic composition of the organizations that were part of the
audit study. This unique data structure enables us to open up the “black box” of hiring
discrimination and probe the organizational-level forces that are involved in shaping inequality at
during the hiring process.