Women and minorities received lower scores than white males,
regardless of performance, on anonymous customer satisfaction surveys in a
recent University of B.C. study.
Aquino said while researchers need to expand
the study to see if the pattern is repeated across a greater number of
industries, companies need to reconsider how anonymous customer feedback is
“What we found in our data is there’s some kind systematic
bias that works to the disadvantage of women and minorities,” he said.
The findings may also help explain why women and minorities
in the United States reportedly earn about 25 per cent less on average than
white males doing the same jobs, Aquino added.
The study, which will be published in the Academy of
Management Journal, asked participants to watch videos that showed interaction
between a book store customer and a sales clerk that was either a white male,
black male or a white female. Although all clerks performed similarly, the
white male clerk’s rating was 19 per cent higher.
Researchers also looked at more than 12,000 patient reports
on 113 U.S. doctors and again found that white male doctors scored higher.
“Companies need to be aware of how relying on customer judgment,
if it’s not tempered with other forms of judgment, can potentially disadvantage
certain employees,” Aquino said.
When anonymous evaluation forms for 66 American golf clubs
were examined, the clubs that employed more Latinos and women were rated lower,
even though all other factors were similar.