Evidence against Employers’ Assumptions about Race and Soft Skills

Hiring managers and segments of the American public believe that white, Black, and Hispanic job-seekers present distinct soft skills to employers. Structural theories maintain that different resources and networks inhibit racial groups from displaying similar non-technical skills and experiences, while cultural approaches posit that all groups can access and display a variety of soft skills.
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Nature and Context

Based on a content analysis of 1,124 applications that white, Black, and Hispanic job-seekers used to apply for the same job, we find little evidence supporting the belief in racial distinctions in soft skills. Instead, white, Black, and Hispanic applicants in our sample presented the same top reasons for applying, the same top personal characteristics, the same top college activities, and were equally likely to follow professional norms. To break down barriers in the work place, we need to reevaluate the bias present starting even at the entry point of interviewing and hiring process.

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