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Rainbow-Effect Bias: How to network in a white job market14 Jan 2016 08:50 am

rainbow.jpegFrom time to time, I along with many of my colleagues get unsolicited job leads from recruiters and from people in our social networks, both on and off line.

In most cases it’s clear they’re reaching out because of our experience and expertise, but are they also reaching out because of our ethnicity or race?

Turns out, that may be one of the main reasons.

A new study put out by Rice University - “Race, Place and Unsolicited Job Leads: How the Ethnoracial Structure of Local Labor Markets Shapes Employment Opportunities,” - found that:

“The flow of job leads changes based not on you as an individual but on the race of people doing your job,” said James Elliott, an associate professor of sociology at Rice University and co-author of the study.

In other words, jobs flow like an ethnoracial rainbow, perpetuating the make up of an occupation, a workplace.


“Presumably, this is due to a preference — conscious or subconscious — for white workers,” said Steve McDonald, an associate professor of sociology at N.C. State and lead author of the study.

Some other key findings from the research:

  • The results held true for workers of all races, even when researchers controlled for things like gender, age and the size of each worker’s social network.
  • Employers in white labor markets are more likely to use social networks and informal approaches to recruit workers.
  • And when minority workers do receive unsolicited job information, it tends to lead to employment where that type of unsolicited information then dries up.

“One of the things this drives home is that,” McDonald noted, “if businesses take diversity seriously and want to diversify their workforce, they need to look beyond their social networks for job candidates.”

These findings are important because they show that the more a job market is dominated by white people (more…)

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