Can Signaling Assimilation Mitigate Hiring Discrimination? Evidence from a Survey Experiment

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Flavia FOSSATI, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Fabienne LIECHTI, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Daniel AUER, IDHEAP Lausanne & nccr - on the move, Switzerland
Giuliano BONOLI, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
With increasing numbers of people with migration backgrounds worldwide, a pressing question is whether the ethnic penalty they oftentimes face can be mitigated. We focus on integration in the labor market as participation in this domain is both an essential prerequisite for and an important outcome of successful integration into the host country. Using a survey experiment, we test whether HR managers’ discrimination against candidates with a non-native background can be counteracted by these candidates signaling assimilation into the host society. In our study, HR managers evaluate descriptions of fictitious CVs in which we vary the nationality of the candidates and different signals of cultural attachment to their background or to the host country. The findings reveal that candidates with Polish- and Turkish-sounding names are evaluated worse than candidates with Swiss- and Spanish-sounding names. More interestingly, however, signaling civic engagement within a traditional Swiss volunteering organization increases the opportunities given to individuals born to Polish and Turkish parents, while engagement in an organization connected to their parents’ background dramatically damages their evaluation by prospective employers. We also show that candidates born to Polish or Turkish parents, who ʻwhitenʼ their CVs and who indicate fluency in only the local language (either Germany or French) fare much better than those who convey a cultural attachment to their country of origin. We conclude that there are limited opportunities to ameliorate the evaluation of a CV by signaling assimilation into the host country; conversely, non-whitened CVs and CVs that convey multiple signals of attachment to one’s parents’ culture of origin are heavily sanctioned by assessments of lower productivity.