There is substantial evidence showing racial bias in firms' hiring decisions, but less is known about bias in career recognition or promotion, which may arguably be more important for the lack of diversity in upper-management positions and, ultimately, the racial wage gap. We construct a novel dataset of police nominations for awards to measure bias against minority employees in career recognition. Exploiting quasi-random variation in supervisor assignment, we find that white supervisors are less likely to nominate black officers for awards than white or Hispanic officers. Increased supervisor-officer interaction reduces, but does not eliminate, the black-white recognition gap. Furthermore, there are persistent benefits for white officers but not for black officers. We also conduct an online experiment and find respondents are less likely to acquire information about black officers relative to non-black officers. Our findings suggest bias in career recognition may be important for the black-white earnings gap and should be examined in further research. In regards to policing, our findings suggest that racial issues in policing are not just at issue between police and the public, but also within departments, and thus that simply hiring minority officers may be limited in its efficacy.
Second version, September 18, 2020
J71: Labor Discrimination
M51: Personnel Economics: Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
J45: Public Sector Labor Markets
J48: Public Policy