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Do Black Lives Matter to Employers?


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Did Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer yield tangible benefits to racial progress and reduce discriminatory practices in the US? New experimental research by LCDS researchers Dave Kirk and Marti Rovira reveals that at least temporarily, levels of employment discrimination against Black applicants to entry-level jobs declined in the aftermath of the 2020 protests.


In the study, Kirk and Rovira combined an audit field experiment with a natural experiment, and submitted applications from fictitious White and Black job candidates to real job openings in two periods: prior to Mr. Floyd’s murder and immediately afterwards.


Prior to Mr. Floyd’s murder, 24.5 percent of White job applicants received a call, text, or email response from sampled employers to discuss the job opening or to interview for the position, in comparison to 17.9 percent of otherwise similar Black applicants. Following Mr. Floyd’s death, the racial gap in employer responses reversed; 22 percent of White job applicants received a response from the employer to their job application vs. 26.6 percent of Black applicants.

Professor Kirk adds: "Findings suggest that the death of Mr. Floyd and the protests that immediately ensued may have raised consciousness about racial inequalities among employers, leading some to reduce exclusionary practices against Black job applicants."


The full reference for study, published in PLoS ONE, as well as an earlier study from the same project, is as follows:


Kirk, David S., and Marti Rovira. 2022. “Do Black Lives Matter to Employers? A Combined Field and Natural Experiment of Racially Disparate Hiring Practices in the Wake of Protests against Police Violence and Racial Oppression.” PLoS ONE 17(5): e0267889. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0267889.


Kirk, David S., and Marti Rovira. 2021. “An Audit Experiment to Investigate the ‘War on Cops’: A Research Note.” Journal of Experimental Criminology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-021-09458-x.

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