Should You Disclose Your Race On A Job Application?

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/30/2014 | 11:30 AM EST

Not filling in your ethnicity could give you a greater chance of nabbing an interview

If you’re Black in America, you know that race is most certainly not something of the past. Systematic racism still exists, especially in corporate America where diversity feels like more of an obligation than an embraced concept, which is why for many African-Americans choosing to not to disclose their race on a job application is often a strategic decision just to get their foot in the door.

But does purposely omitting your race actually strengthen your chances of getting an interview or job?

It’s not as if the lack of Black professionals in many boardrooms is because they’re not qualified for the job. However, proving that Blacks are overlooked because of their race isn’t exactly something that’s able to be proven - though there have been a plethora of stories of Black applicants who reported a peak in callbacks when they either omitted their ethnicity or said that they were White.

Making that decision always comes down to the applicant and whether or not they believe their race will actually play a factor in the success or unsuccess of the application process. While some feel revealing their race will garner negative opinions and stereotypes from an employer, others actually think they have a greater chance at landing the job because of company diversity policies. However, if the company has already met his “quota,” so to speak, would an applicant still get the same attention?

Others, however, do not check in their ethnicity because they feel race is a non factor and should not matter to an employee  - the skills and qualifications should speak for themselves. And while such a utopian idea is legitimate, it’s not always the case.

Stacey Patton, the senior enterprise reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education, says she conducted a survey among African-American scholars who attended a conference hosted by the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, to see of the 324, how many actually disclose their race. Of them, a majority - 272 - said that they do, while 52 left the box unchecked.

Patton also points out that there are practical, and more so logistical reasons for that “race box,” such as ways for HR departments to applicant flow, and to monitor how successful they are at recruiting and hiring diverse applicants.

Regardless, choosing not to disclose your race may get you an interview, but it surely does not guarantee you’ll get the job. The best policy to be open and honest - the employer is going to find out about your race anyway, and if he or she is going to discriminate against you, they’ll do it regardless. The real task at hand is tackling racial discrimination. If you feel you’re being discriminated against because of your race, make a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Take a stand.

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