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Study finds recruiters discriminate Muslim women in hiring at entry-level jobs

New Delhi:  A study done by Ledby Foundation has found significant discrimination against Muslim women across industries in entry-level jobs, even when they are equally qualified for the role.

Founded by Dr Ruha Shadab in 2019, the Ledby Foundation is a professional leadership incubator for Muslim women which works with the aim to raise their representation in the country’s workforce.

Released in June, the report titled —  Hiring Bias: Employment for Muslim women at entry-level roles —   was done in association with the Maulana Azad National Urdu University’s Centre for Development of Policy & Practice in collaboration with Centre for Development of Policy and Practice.

Dr Ruha Shadab along with Vanshika Sharan and Deepanjali Lahiri are the authors of the report.

“We embarked on this study is because we heard a lot of anecdotal stories about the challenges and discrimination that Muslims and Muslim women face in our country, in a host of aspects of life, including employment. Employment was particularly important to us because it is such a gigantic waste of Indian talent to not select people based on implicit and explicit biases. We wanted to be able to have hard facts to take to people in possession of power and show that the anecdotal stories are statistically significant in numbers and the need to take corrective action for this,” Dr Ruha Shada told ThePrint

For the purpose of the study conducted over a period of 10 months, 2,000 job applications were sent through 1,000 job postings on sites such as LinkedIn and Two equally qualified profiles — Habiba Ali and Priyanka Sharma — were created matching the market standards for entry-level positions. The profiles didn’t carry any photograph.

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‘Bias towards Hindu women’ 

The report noted that while Habiba received only 103 positive responses, Priyanka got 203 which is nearly double of what the Muslim woman’s profile got. The net discrimination rate stood at 47.1 per cent, which was evident across industries, based on the responses received.

“The net discrimination rate for Indian Muslim women relative to Hindu women then becomes 47.1% representing a massive discrepancy between call-backs for Muslim and Hindu women and proving that a significant hiring bias favouring Hindu women is present across industries,” the study observed.

Habiba received only a rare follow up call, whereas a large proportion of Priyanka‘s responses were call backs, according to the study.

It also noted the recruiters were more cordial to the Hindu profile (candidate) and that while 41.3 per cent of them connected on phone calls with Priyanka, only 12.6 per cent opted for it with Habiba.

“This research proves that a contributing factor to such a stark disparity in labour market participation is discrimination within the hiring process. Equal access to opportunities for Muslim women is vital to their social and financial equality in society and tackling biases in the hiring process is one of the most important mechanisms by which one can level the playing field,” the report stated.

Additionally, the report found that North India had a lower discrimination rate of 40 per cent compared to West and South India where the figure stood at 59 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively.

Commenting on the report findings, Rituparna Chakraborty, Co-Founder & Executive Director, TeamLease told ThePrint that she was yet to experience such trend in her career while “observing trends clinically about the private sector”.

“However, it is possible that we were fishing in a different pond from what was sampled to carry out this survey,” said Chakraborty, who has worked with over 3,500 companies across industries.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Mapping unpaid women’s work is India’s next challenge in its vexed jobs scenario

Source: The Print

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