A new study suggests that people give higher customer satisfaction ratings to white men than to women and members of minorities, even when their performance is the same.We've often heard it said that women and minorities have to work twice as hard to do as well as white men, and this study seems to offer some empirical support for that proposition. It reminds me of a discussion I had with a representative of George Washington University over an advertisement they place in Politico.com, with a lone white man as their example of what it means to be a political science specialist. When I asked her why the ad featured a lone white man instead of a polychromatic and bi-gendered group, she said that the number of responses they get to the ad is greater when that lone white man is there.
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“The findings suggest that the customer is always wrong,” said David R. Hekman, the lead author and an assistant professor of management at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. “Everyone — white, black, men, women — think the white man is more valuable. Someone needs to call customers out on their biases.” New York Times
Of course this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more advertisements present the lone white man as a symbol of leadership, the more the public will perceive the lone white man as a symbol of leadership.