North American customers biased towards white male service providers

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Toronto, July 20 (ANI): A new study suggests that customers in North America are more likely to be satisfied when white males provide them with any service, instead of a woman or minority.

University of British Columbia researcher Karl Aquino revealed that in anonymous customer feedback surveys, female and minority employees who exhibited the same behaviours as their white male counterparts were found to be rated lower.

The researcher who teaches at the university's Sauder School of Business said that the results took him and his fellow researchers by surprise.

"We had thought there would be some bias going on in the sense of people who were males or whites would be rated more positively," the Globe and Mail quoted him as saying.

"But we didn't anticipate that for performing the same behaviours, the women and minorities would actually be rated lower," he said of the study, to be published in the Academy of Management Journal.

Working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, and the United States Military Academy at West Point, Aquino focused on customers in a health maintenance organization, a bookstore, and at golf courses.

He said that the research team analysed over 12,000 patient reports on 113 doctors from the health maintenance organization.

He further revealed that it was not just that female and minority physicians were rated less favourably for providing similar service, but that the harder they tried, the lower they scored.

"It seemed like doing more actually penalized them," he said.

As to why they observed that finding, the researcher guessed that it might be possible that white male doctors who exhibited certain behaviours were considered attentive or conscientious, while someone who didn't fit the prototype of a doctor was considered overbearing and annoying.

In the bookstore study, university students watched videos of clerks interacting with customers before they were asked to evaluate each employee's performance.

They observed that a white male clerk's service, for the same pre-scripted actions, was rated 19 per cent higher than the service from a female or black male.

In the golf sample, the researchers looked at feedback from more than 3,600 golfers, and found that clubs with higher rates of female and minority employees were rated less favourably.

"In these different samples we demonstrated that customer ratings are biased against women and racial minorities," says the study report. (ANI)

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