Duke Research Project Explores Assumptions Employers May Have About Veterans

A new research initiative is going to examine what type of assumptions employers might make about veterans seeking employment, reports Duke University’s student newspaper The Chronicle. The project, the Veterans Transitions Research Initiative (VTRI), will be housed in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and hopes to ultimately aid service members who are transitioning back into the workforce.

Digital Bluewhitetextnobordernotm300“We're approaching this more like behavioral scientists would approach an experimental study of sexism or racism,” Dr. Aaron Kay, the J. Rex Fuqua professor of international management and VTRI’s leading research contributor, told the student paper.

While veterans are generally respected by the general population, the project is going to study how employers might make unfair assumptions about veterans’ backgrounds and abilities.

“We are trying to understand stereotypes and prejudice, from the institution or from the other people's perspective,” Kay said. “What do people think about veterans, and how is that impacting the kind of jobs they think they're suited for?”

For one thing, Sean Kelley, an executive in residence at Fuqua with experience in the field of employment recruiting, told the Chronicle that he believes employers may not realize how well the military prepares veterans, who are more likely to work in intelligence than in combat, for jobs in tech. 

“I have a long track record of trying to drive change engagement of veterans at the highest level of opportunity outside of the service,” Kelley told the Chronicle. “For me, I’m able to look into the tech space with my background and address the huge amounts of veteran unemployment and the huge need for tech workers.” 

Ultimately, Kelley and Kay hope to use the VTRI’s findings to limit employer bias.