That is a conclusion of a research study by Joseph M. Stauffer and M. Ronald
Buckley reported in a recent Journal of Applied Psychology. The authors point
out that it is important to have performance criteria and supervisory ratings
that are free of bias. They cite a meta-analysis by Kraiger and Ford (1985) that
showed White raters tended to rate White employees more favorably than
Black employees, while Black raters rated Blacks more favorably than Whites.
They also cite a later study by Sackett and DuBois (1991) that disputed the
fi nding that raters tended to favor members of their own racial groups.
In their study, Stauffer and Buckley reanalyzed the Sackett and DuBois data
to pursue in more depth the possible interactions between rater and ratee race.
The data included samples of military and civilian workers, each of whom was rated by Black and White
supervisors. Their fi ndings are that in both samples White supervisors gave signifi cantly higher ratings to
White workers than they did to Black workers, while Black
supervisors also tended to favor White workers in their ratings.
Stauffer and Buckley advise caution in interpreting
these results as meaning that the rating differences are the
result of racial prejudice; instead they maintain that the
data aren’t suffi cient to address this issue. The researchers
call for additional studies designed to further examine
both the existence of bias in supervisory ratings and the
causes of such bias. In terms of workplace implications,
however, the authors are quite defi nitive: “If you are a
White ratee then it doesn’t matter if your supervisor is
Black or White. If you are a Black ratee, then it is important
whether your supervisor is Black or White