Priyanga Gunarathne, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Information Systems and Technology Management, Katz Graduate School of Business
Key Findings: This paper provides the first large-scale evidence of business-to-customer racial bias (B2C bias) on a digital platform, on which the perpetrators are individual employees who act on behalf of a company and the victims are customers. The authors found that African American customers are 12% less likely than similar white customers to receive a response from airline representatives when they complain on social media. The researchers did not find any differences in the airlines’ responsiveness to Asian or Hispanic customers when compared with similar white customers.
Recommendation: Businesses should conceal a customer’s profile photo from customer service employees to minimize discriminatory practices.
Researchers: Priyanga Gunarathne; Avi Seidman, Professor of Information Systems at the Questrom School of Business, Boston University; and Huaxia Rui, Xerox Professor of Computers and Information Systems at the University of Rochester.
Methodology: A variety of analytics techniques, including text mining and facial recognition, were used on 57,000 social media customer complaints to major U.S. airlines in 2014 and 2015.