When it comes to employee referrals, some people are more popular than others.
About one-third of new job offers go to people who received a referral — and the vast majority of them are white men, a major new study by PayScale, a company that collects data on salaries, concluded. White women are 12% less likely to have received a referral for their current position, men of color are 26% less likely to have received a referral and women of color are 35% less likely to receive a referral, the analysis of data from 53,000 hiring decisions found.
“While it can be tempting to lean on employee referrals as a primary recruiting source, it’s important for organizations to understand who isn’t getting referred.” said Lydia Frank, vice president of PayScale. “Relying too heavily on referrals can come at a cost to businesses and result in a homogenous culture with a deficit of diverse thinking.” The most common type of referral is from family members or close friends (14%), followed by former coworkers, colleagues or clients (11%).
Don’t miss: Fortysomething women are reversing a 40-year trend
Men are regarded as more valuable hires when it comes to these word-of-mouth recommendations, compounding a gender pay gap of 83 cents on the dollar. While the most valuable referral is one from a former co-worker, colleague or client, PayScale found that there is a dramatic difference in how this type of referral benefits men and women: Men can expect $8,200 a year more than their previous salary, while women receive an average increase of just $3,700.
Women are less likely to get hired for the top job, too. In fact, women accounted for just 18% of chief executive officer replacements in 2017, unchanged from the year before, according to recent data released by global outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Just 193 women CEOs accounted for 1,043 recorded replacements. Women currently hold just over 5% of CEO positions at those S&P 500 companies, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit supporting women.
Also see: Western men suffered a 50% decline in sperm count over four decades
A hiring process that appears to be less favorable to women and people of color likely begins long before people start their first job. For a start, people of color are less likely to attend the most exclusive schools where connections are made, according to Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce. And they’re under-represented in some of the fastest-growing and highest paying fields such as engineering and computer science.
And yet some men believe being white and male makes it more difficult to find a job. Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center asked a nationally representative sample of white men with jobs in science, technology, math and engineering (or STEM) fields whether they thought their gender made it harder for them to succeed: 14% said yes and, of those, over 1 in 10 said they had been affected by reverse discrimination. White men make up the vast majority of the STEM workforce.