There is substantial evidence showing racial bias in firms’ hiring decisions, but less is known about bias in career recognition. We construct a novel dataset of police award nominations to measure bias against minority employees. Exploiting quasi-random variation in supervisor assignment and randomized timing of annual evaluations, we find that white supervisors are less likely to nominate black officers than white and Hispanic officers leading up to and during the evaluation period. Further, the black-white nomination gap widens with the number of arrests. These patterns suggest that the disparity is not due to in-group favoritism towards white officers but rather bias against black officers. We conduct an online experiment to examine evaluator engagement and find that evaluators are less likely to engage with black officers vs. white officers. Our findings suggest bias in career recognition may have important implications for the black-white promotion gap, the lack of diversity in upper-management positions, and, ultimately, the racial wage gap.
Fourth version, February 15, 2021
J71: Labor Discrimination
M51: Personnel Economics: Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
J45: Public Sector Labor Markets
J48: Public Policy