Jobseekers Still Face Racial Discrimination in Private Sector

Posted by

There is still so much improvement needed in Malaysia’s fair employment practices, as private sectors are still largely favouring to employ specific employees that relate to race, language or religion. According to the Centre for Governance and Political Studies(Cent-GPS), a KL-based behavioural and social science research firm conducted a study of racial bias in the private sector. Much of the studies are extended from a research paper by local academics from University Malaysia(UM) and University Kebangsaan Malaysia(UKM).


For the past several months, Cent-GPS submitted 3,829 job applications to more than 500 jobs. Each of these 500 jobs, 7 nearly identical resumes were submitted, the only difference is the fictitious ethnic group’s candidates which is comprised of 3 Malays, 2 Chinese and 2 Indians. All of the 7 resumes had the same qualifications, experience and language ability (Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin).

From the key findings:

  • both male and female Chinese candidates obtained more callbacks for interviews compared to their Malay and Indian peers combined.
  • despite its candidates being able to communicate in Mandarin at an “intermediate” level, a Chinese candidate is still likely to receive callbacks.
  • a Malay female candidate who is not wearing a hijab is more likely to get a callback compared to one who wear hijab.

Even though the study definitely shows that employers still discriminate, some of the slides did present some flaws that may have skewed the results. For instance, the “equivalent universities” are not identical, one candidate is from Inti, one from the United Kingdom, and one from Queensland which has been identified by a Twitter user that have reviewed the study. Moreover, the resume sample size is limited to 7 compared to the prior study which did 3,012 resumes and the previous research paper has proven that bias towards Chinese in the private sector does exist. The previous study entitled “Discrimination in high degrees: Race and graduate hiring in Malaysia” and was published in the Journal of Asia Pacific Economy by local academics Dr Muhammad Abdul Khalid and Hwok-Aun Lee.

From the key findings:

  • Found that in general, above average applicants get more callbacks than below average applicants. Interestingly, above average Malay have lower callback rate than below average Chinese.
  • Showed that Chinese resumes received a 22.1% callback rate on average while Malay resumes received 4.2% callback rate on average.
  • Malay applicants for engineering jobs get the lowest callback rate at 2.9%.
  • Malay graduates from private universities get the lowest callback.
  • Showed that UTAR graduates get higher callback rates, but there is no penalty for UiTM degrees.
  • Malay resumes stating proficiency in Chinese get higher callback rates.
  • English and Malay proficiency and good English in the cover letter have ā€˜negligible impact on call ratesā€™.
  • Calculated callback rates among Chinese, foreign and Malay-controlled companies. Malays get lower callback rates in ALL of them.
  • Even Malay-controlled companies favour Chinese applicants 1.6 times more than Malays.

For many employers who wish to put a stop on racial discrimination in the workforce. The playing field must be levelled equally across all races so even Malay and Indian candidates get an equal and fair chance in the job market too. For employers of all races, keep in mind that despite the negative bias towards specific races you are losing out on good candidates.

So what do you think about this study? Leave your thoughts and comments on what employers should do to curb the stigma of racial discrimination across all job sectors. Follow us for more daily career insights and new hirings to land your dream job. Head over to and unveil your next job opportunity.

You Jing is a content writer who writes careerĀ and lifestyle contents to inspireĀ job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

Reach me at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *