Management structure can have a large impact on the representation of women in management, but which structure is most effective in promoting gender diversity? The answer may surprise you. In the article “The View at the Top or Signing at the Bottom? Workplace Diversity Responsibility and Women’s Representation in Management,” from ILR Review, authors Mary E. Graham, Maura A. Belliveau, and Julie L. Hotchkiss investigated what correlations could be found between different management structures and gender diversity in management. Surprisingly, they found that having an HR executive on the top management team did not necessarily equate to more women in management. The abstract for the article describes their findings:
Women lag men in their representation in management jobs, which negatively affects women’s careers and company performance. Using data from 81 publicly traded firms with more than 2,000 establishments, the authors examine the impact of two management structures that may influence gender diversity in management positions. The authors find no association between the presence of an HR executive on the top management team—a structure envisioned in practice as enhancing diversity but which could, instead, operate merely symbolically—and the proportion of women in management. By contrast, the authors show a strong, positive association between a previously unexamined measure of commitment to diversity—the hierarchical rank of the individual certifying the company’s required, confidential federal EEO-1 report—and women’s representation in management. These findings counter the common perception that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations are too weak to affect gender diversity. The authors discuss the implications for diversity scholarship, as well as for management practice and public policy.
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*Image attributed to Will Evans (CC)