The New York Times’s performance review system has for years given significantly lower ratings to employees of color, an analysis by Times journalists in the NewsGuild shows.
The analysis, which relied on data provided by the company on performance ratings for all Guild-represented employees, found that in 2021, being Hispanic reduced the odds of receiving a high score by about 60 percent, and being Black cut the chances of high scores by nearly 50 percent. Asians were also less likely than white employees to get high scores.
In 2020, zero Black employees received the highest rating, while white employees accounted for more than 90 percent of the roughly 50 people who received the top score.
The disparities have been statistically significant in every year for which the company provided data, according to the journalists’ study, which was reviewed by several leading academic economists and statisticians, as well as performance evaluation experts.
…Management has denied the discrepancies in the performance ratings for nearly two years…
And from the economists:
Multiple outside experts consulted by the reporters consistently said the methodology used in the Guild’s most recent analysis was reasonable and appropriate and that the approach used by the company appeared either flawed or incomplete. Some went further, suggesting the company’s approach seemed tailor-made to avoid detecting any evidence of bias.
Rachael Meager, an economist at the London School of Economics, was blunt: “LMAO, that’s so dumb,” she wrote when Guild journalists described the company’s methodology to her. “That’s what you would do if you want to obliterate signal,” she added, using a word that in economics refers to meaningful information.
“This is so stupid as to border on negligence,” added Dr. Meager, who has published papers on evaluating statistical evidence in leading economics journals.
Peter Hull, a Brown University economist who has studied statistical techniques for detecting racial bias, also questioned the company’s approach and recommended a way to test it: running simulations in which bias was intentionally added. The company’s method repeatedly failed to detect racial disparities in those tests.
Here is the full article, prepared by the NYT Guild Equity Committee, including Ben Casselman. Of course we now live in a world where very few people will be surprised by this. Where exactly does the moral authority lie here for making editorial judgments about content concerning race?