Auditing ethnic preference in Hong Kong’s financial job market: The mediation of white privilege and Hong Kong localism

Yao-Tai LI*, John Chung En Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Using the case of Hong Kong’s finance-related industries, this article examines whether preference or discrimination based on job applicants’ ethnic background manifests in Hong Kong employers’ hiring practices. The authors took an audit approach and compared applicants of three distinctive ethnic groups: Anglo-Saxons, local Hong Kongers, and mainland Chinese. They found that in Hong Kong, local applicants receive the highest callback rate, followed by mainland Chinese, and then Anglo-Saxon applicants, regardless of their gender. The findings counter existing literature and suggest white privilege and colonial legacy is not visible in the hiring for college graduate positions in the financial industries. Instead, language (Cantonese) fluency and business ties to China are of greater importance to employers/HR in Hong Kong’s finance-related industries. In other words, white privilege may still hold true in socio-cultural spheres or everyday interactions, but the effects can be mediated by Cantonese language proficiency when it comes to hiring practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-90
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Sociology
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Audit study
  • ethnic discrimination
  • ethnic preference
  • Hong Kong
  • localism
  • white privilege

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