Survey analysis of data reveals evidence of job race segregation in most metropolitan areas of the United States. A whopping 60 percent of the Whites work in jobs where most of their co-workers are whites. Conversely, only a third of the African-Americans, Hispanics and other non-whites do work in jobs that are mostly white collar. It is noteworthy that this racial segregation in employment is not limited to a specific level of employment. Indeed, it is also embedded at the establishment level with the average establishment percent of the minority being significantly higher for African Americans and Hispanics at 70 percent than it is with 43 percent for the whites. With regard to compensation, the pay benefits for African Americans and the Hispanics are comparatively lower compared to the whites even at the same occupation and level of employment. There is evidence to the effect that employers remunerate workers in predominantly lower minority settings with lower compensation as compared to those working in white settings. This is so even in the event where there is no difference in human capital between the two settings. This differential access to employment, compensation and other benefits as well as the nature of work portends a case of racial inequality in the United States which is the subject of study in this paper. This report discusses the extent of the problem of racial inequality subsisting in the United States as briefly described herein above. The report shall also examine the causes of this problem of racial inequality as well as endeavor to offer practical solutions to the problem towards the end of the paper. In this quest, the report discusses findings from interviews conducted from three persons who work in the United States and who have had a firsthand experience of racial segregation. Additionally, the paper also explores debates that have ranged over the issue in the public discourse. In conclusion, the report shall make practical solutions to rid the nation of the problem of racial inequality in employment.
Having found that minority establishments have on average, low pay and benefits rewards level, we then examine the situation in these establishments. It is the case that occupations in these minority establishments require low cognitive skills, have lower unionization rates and are less likely to have internal labor markets as compared to the white establishments. Working from this premise, it may then seem justified to conclude that the pay levels are justified and do not indicate any racial segregation in terms of remuneration. However, this is not the case. As shall be seen from this report, this is not the significant cause of the differential wages among the workers from the two establishments as workers possessing similar skills but of different race is rewarded with differential salaries and benefits. To illustrate the level of racial inequality and in a bid to demonstrate the scope of the problem in the United States, I present findings of interviews of three workers in the United States whom I interviewed with respect to the problem. I employed the multistep method in conducting this interview where I began with a random sampling of the individuals to interview. It is from this sample of individuals that I was able to generate an establishment sample by asking the individuals to identify their place of work or employment and then went on to interview the employer of the place. In particular, I found this method attractive over the others as it is more representative avoids the complicated process of identifying an establishment frame for sampling, and generates a sample that also subsumes the informal establishments. Further, there are fewer chances that the data as collected will be compromised since employers usually report on the organizational characteristics. In addition, it also enables the researcher to gain information about a significant range of information that may be unknown to the worker such as the hiring practices and other recruitment techniques at the workplace.
The first interviewee was a worker working in an informal establishment in the mining industry as a manual worker. He stated that a majority of his co-workers were persons of the African-Americans and Hispanics descent with only two Whites. Though he was not aware of the other worker’s remuneration levels, his salary was comparatively low compared to other workers in other companies working at the same occupational level. The second interviewee was the human resource manager of the workplace of the first interviewee as I sought to know the hiring practices and remuneration of its workers. I found that the management of the mining company recruited workers based on the skills of the particular worker though he hinted that the company prefers the African-Americans as manual workers as they were more likely to agree to the terms of condition and were better equipped to do the work owing to their relatively heavier build. The surprising thing with the human resource manager was his candidness despite being a white. The third interviewee was a manager at a top professional services firm where the entire upper echelon of the workplace is inundated with Whites. On interviewing the human resource manager at the firm on the remuneration levels, I found remarkable wage levels with the majority of the workers being Whites with a few workers of the African-American and Asian descent.
The data that I was able to acquire from the interview only served to vindicate the generally held perception that racial segregation at the workplace in the United States continues and is deeply embedded in the system. It cannot be a mere coincidence that workers in informal establishments are non-whites and have lower compensation while at the other end of the spectrum ,there are whites with relatively higher benefits. Be it as it may, reasons have been advanced for the same phenomenon. There are arguments to the effect that this phenomenon has been brought about by the relatively lower education levels of the African Americans and the Hispanics as compared to the Whites. Though this may be true to some extent, it is not entirely the case. In recent years, the education gap between the various races has narrowed down. More so, this same argument is negated by the fact that there are differential wages offered to workers of the same occupation and possessing different skills but who are of different races. Indeed, African American men who are on a full time job earn an average of 72 percent of the earnings of white men holding similar jobs. In addition, the unemployment rate among the Blacks is estimated at nearly double that of the whites. It may well be stated that this gap has narrowed down in recent years, but racial inequality in the United States still pervades the nation.
Having examined the scope and extent of the problem of racial inequality in the United States, I then explore the causes of this racial inequality. In explaining the cause of the racial inequality in the employment brackets in the United States, I shall use the sociological perspective or theory of the stereotype threat as articulated by social psychologist Claude Steele in explaining racial segregation at the workplace. In their article on stereotype threat, Aronson and Quinn make the case that African Americans have tended to underperform in school as compared to the whites. They then argue that this disparity in academic achievement is to blame for the racial inequalities witnessed in the workplace. Claudia Steele described stereotype threat as the pressure that is brought to bear on an individual when they are at risk of fulfilling a negative stereotype about their group. He argued that when these individuals are faced with this pressure, they usually become anxious and consequently behave in a manner that lends credence to the stereotype. Applying this theory as expounded by Steele to an education setting, it follows that the stereotype threat can have the effect of affecting the intellectual or educational performance of the particular individual to whom the stereotype is ascribed. A group may be targeted by some stereotypes such as one that faults the intellectual ability of the group in a particular field or specialization. We argue in line with this sociological perspective, the stereotype threat may undermine the academic achievement of the individual by affecting task performance. This may also occur by way of causing the individual to disengage from the particular task or field which they are of the view that they will feel threatened owing to the stereotype.
Using this stereotype threat perspective, Steele found out that the African American students in college performed dismally compared to the whites in a standardized exam when the same was classified as one of testing or diagnosing the ability of the student. On the other hand, Steele found out that both the African American college students as well as the whites performed in a similar level when the same standardized test was given as a problem solving task. This reinforces the argument by Steele that it is a stereotype threat that hampers the performance of an individual, rather than his ability. Students that care a lot about their performance may be adversely affected by a stereotype which implies that they may not have the ability to perform. It is notable that Steele stated that it is not necessary for the particular individual to view the stereotype ascribed to them as valid so as to be affected by it. It therefore follows that using this sociological theory that African American students perform poorly in college owing to the stereotypical threat, but less on their ability to perform consequently ending up in minority establishment jobs with lower compensation and requiring low cognitive skills. We also argue that perceptions about intelligence and behavior accruing to race may have an effect on the educational experience of the youths. It is the case that indicators of race are usually associated with negative perceptions about the particular race resulting in stigmatization of such race. The specific experience of the different races more so the minority groups in the United States such as the African Americans, the Latinos, the Hispanics and the Asians vary greatly with those of the Whites and this may explain the difference in educational attainment and the consequent racial segregation at the workplace. At the moment, debates range about this phenomenon of racial inequalities at the workplace. In some quarters, some are of the view that the minority groups such as the Blacks or the African Americans are too lazy to work or have low cognitive skills required for effective work. Other persons opposed to racial inequalities argue that the differences in wages and jobs held by the whites and the non-whites is merely as a result of racial discrimination and nothing more.
In conclusion, I examine the potential practical solutions to alleviating racial inequalities in employment in the United States. It is the case that employers have been shown to recruit more regularly in the White neighborhoods as opposed to the African American neighborhoods. Evidence also suggests that automatic cognitive activation of stereotypes causes the employers to discriminate on the basis of race in an unconscious manner. Given this, I am of the view that anti-discrimination legislation should be put in place to proscribe the employment of a certain proportion of a similar race in jobs so as to curb the tendency for racial discrimination. Further, sanctions should be put in place against employers found in breach of this regulation. In addition, there should be a development of an education policy that targets the minority groups to aid in their progression especially with higher education. This will have the effect of uplifting the education levels and the cognitive skills of the minority groups who have been traditionally disenfranchised. As such, these minorities such as the Hispanics and the African Americans will have the opportunity to obtain high end jobs that are at the moment primarily occupied by whites.
Bok, Derek and William Bowen. Historical Context." The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2008.
Elliot, James R and Ryan A Smith. "Race,Gender and Workplace power." 14 3 2006. Tulane Education Website. 20 11 2013 <http://www.tulane.edu/~jre/Elliott_%26_Smith_Race_Gender_%26_Workplace_Power_ASR_2004.pdf>.
Kao, Grace and Jeniffer S Thompson. "Racial and Ethnic Stratification in Educational Achievement and Attainment." Annual Review of Sociology 29 (2009): 417-442.
Kmee, Julie A. "Race in the Workplace and Labor Market Inequality: Dissertation Summary." UpJohn Institute for Employement Research (2007): 1-62.
Spenser, Steven J, Claude M Steele and Dianne M Quinn. "Stereotype Threat and Women’s Math Performance." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2009): 4-28.
Steele, Claude M. "A Threat is in the Air: How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance." American Psychologist 52:6 (2006): 612-629.
Steele, Claude M and Joshua Aronson. "tereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69 (5) (2012): 797-811.