While the public sector has the reputation for being less discriminatory than the private sector, a Danish study published in Academy of Management Discoveries found that both sectors have equally significant bias against job applicants with foreign names.

“The public sector is often thought of as a model employer that is more inclusive and more accepting of employees who might have difficulties finding jobs in the private sector. More ethnic and racial minorities tend to work in the public sector, compared to the private sector, both in Denmark and in other countries,” said Anders R. Villadsen of Aarhus University.

Villadsen and coauthor Jesper N. Wulff, also of Aarhus University, submitted 888 applications for 222 job openings using Danish and Middle-Eastern names from February to July 2015. The openings were for teachers, physiotherapists, office assistants, and financial controllers in public and private sector positions located in Copenhagen and Central Jutland.

“We found that applications with a Danish-sounding name had, on average, a 53% higher callback rate than those with a Middle-Eastern-sounding name. By contrast to previous studies, we found little to no indication of a difference in callback rates between the public and private sectors,” the authors wrote in their article, “Is the Public Sector a Fairer Employer? Ethnic Employment Discrimination in the Public and Private Sectors.”

Read more at AOM Insights