Katherine DeCelles, a professor at Harvard Business School, along with colleagues from the University of Toronto and Stanford University, recently studied this phenomenon in “Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market” (pdf). “Discrimination still exists in the workplace,” said DeCelles. “Some applicants were willing to lose what could be seen as valuable pieces of human capital because they were more worried about giving away their race.”
Although the practice sounds demeaning and reductive in the year 2017, apparently it works. In one study, researchers sent out whitened résumés and nonwhitened résumés to 1,600 employers. Twenty-five percent of black applicants received callbacks when their résumés were whitened, compared with 10 percent of the job seekers who left their ethnic details on the same résumés.