Private sector still hiring based on racial lines

The study reveals that a female candidate with a Chinese ethnicity received the highest amount of callbacks and interviews


Preferences and marginalisation over certain races are still apparent in the private sector’s present hiring processes, according to a study by the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS).

The study, Racism in Recruitment: A Study on Racial Bias For Entry Level Jobs in Malaysia, revealed that a female candidate with a Chinese ethnicity received the highest amount of callbacks and interviews compared to respondents of similar background and qualification, but different ethnicities.

The social experiment-like study submitted 3,829 fabricated resumes with similar qualifications and backgrounds to about 500 job vacancies and analysed the number of callbacks and interviews offered for each candidate.

It observed the responses of companies in the private sector to seven resumes of candidates with different ethnicities.

Each of the resumes described a candidate with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of second class upper in Bachelor in Business from the local private university, internship history at reputable institutions and intermediate Mandarin language skill.

The study found that Malays and Indians would have more difficulties to get interviews compared to Mandarin-speaking Chinese applicants.

Cent-GPS senior researcher Zaidel Baharuddin said racial inequality should be addressed as it will create an imbalanced labour market.

“The study shows us just how discriminatory our private sector really is. Even if candidates have similar qualifications, education and experiences, the ethnicity still plays a vital role in the success of job application,” he said.

“There is still an imbalance in terms of hiring activities, especially for the fresh-entry level jobs and it will close the doors of opportunity for the young candidates to even pre-sent themselves,” he added.

“If the trend continues, many more will be marginalised simply due to the heritage, and hardworking candidates will not get the opportunity that they deserve, which will create a dangerous future of inequality and social instability.”

Zaidel proposed that the government should look into introducing tax reduction for firms to encourage multiracial employment and neutralise the racial imbalance.

He also pointed out that such imbalance is fairly seen in the unlisted public companies.

“It could not be addressed in a mandatory manner such as (setting) a target to be achieved by a certain amount of time, I do not think it will work.”

“But what the government can do if they are interested to address this issue is to provide incentives such as tax reduction to motivate companies to take action,” he said.