A call for intervention: Lack of diversity in career pyramids

[We’re pleased to welcome author Claartje J. Vinkenburg of VU University, Amsterdam. Vinkenburg recently published an article in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences entitled, “Engaging Gatekeepers, Optimizing Decision Making, and Mitigating Bias: Design Specifications for Systemic Diversity Interventions.” Below, Vinkenburg discusses the motivation for pursuing this research, along with future applications. From Vinkenburg:]

3374725110_74426ba883_m.jpgWhat inspired you to be interested in this topic? I was triggered by the cover article of the July 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review which stated that diversity efforts fail. I have seen such failures, but also examples of quite successful diversity interventions in up-or-out systems such as academia and professional service firms that deserve a wider audience of researchers and practitioners. This journal and especially the special issue addressed questions around systemic change that provided a great fit with my story of design specifications for successful diversity interventions.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? I was surprised to discover in writing the article but also in presenting it in various forms to different audiences that so many people are unaware of the existence and effects of bias, and firmly believe that the way people are promoted in their organizations reflects meritocracy. Making them aware is one thing, but doing something about it is a wicked problem that requires working through paradox.

How do you see this study influencing future research? While the successful diversity interventions described may not challenge meritocracy directly, but they help to achieve ³true² meritocracy by reducing bias in the assessment of merit, focusing on the often capricious application of criteria in performance evaluation and/or reward allocation. Future action research or intervention studies could look at mediated sensemaking and other forms of working through paradox with gatekeepers, as well ways to de-bias our HR or people decision making such as selection and promotion.

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Diversity pyramid photo attributed to Ben Mason (CC).

Income Inequality and Subjective Well-Being: Assessing the Relationship

[We’re pleased to welcome author Ivana Katic of the Yale School of Management.  Katic recently published an article in Business & Society entitled, “Income Inequality and Subjective Well-Being: Toward an Understanding of the Relationship and Its Mechanisms,” co-authored by Paul Ingram of Columbia Business School. Below, Katic details the inspiration for the study:]

What inspired you to be interested in this topic? Inequality has always been a major topic in sociology. In the academic community and beyond, this interest in inequality simply exploded in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, as well as the Occupy protests around the world. Despite the amount of attention that income inequality has been receiving in empirical studies across psychology, sociology, economics as well as political science, my co-author Paul Ingram and I noticed that the literature was still quite mixed in regards to the effects of income inequality. In fact, extant studies had found positive, negative and neutral effects of income inequality on the subjective wellbeing and happiness levels of individuals. This lack of a consensus, we thought, was quite interesting, especially in contrast to the commonly held belief that inequality has exclusively negative consequences for individuals, as well as communities—ranging from lowered trust and health and increased crime levels to, ultimately, lower overall wellbeing. We decided that the time was ripe to pursue a comprehensive study that would allow us to better understand how income inequality affects subjective wellbeing (SWB). Such a study would also allow us to better understand the channels through which income inequality may affect SWB. We set out to answer these important, and particularly timely questions, by constructing a rich cross-country dataset including 65 countries from 1995 to 201B&S_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg1.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?Given the common notion that income inequality is always detrimental to human flourishing, we were initially surprised to see that income inequality had a strong and very robust effect on SWB in our analysis. On the other hand, this was not the first time a study had found a positive effect—so there was clearly precedent for our finding in previous literature on the topic. However, to be quite certain, we threw everything we could at our results in a variety of robustness tests (including different operationalizations of our key independent variable and our dependent variable, as well as a series of different estimation techniques). Our results never budged.

How might one use the study’s main finding of a positive main effect of income inequality on SWB to create policy? While our main effect suggests that decreasing income inequality may not increase SWB, we caution against using our study as justification for lowering taxes and increasing inequality. First, our results do not necessarily indicate that income inequality is never a negative for a variety of other life outcomes. Second, we cannot rule out that income inequality may increase beyond the range studied in our paper, and we similarly cannot guarantee that it would not have negative effects beyond that range. Third, in a separate working paper, we find that any changes in the level of income inequality are uniquely damaging to SWB, suggesting that fluctuating levels of inequality may be particularly psychologically taxing for individuals to adjust to.

However, our study has another way forward for policy. A particularly important aspect of our study is that it sheds light on the mechanisms of income inequality’s relationship with SWB. Specifically, we found that income inequality has more positive effects on individuals who are relatively better off, those that perceive the income generation process to be fair, and surprisingly, those that do not perceive a lot of social mobility in their society. It is with these mechanisms in mind that we suggest constructing policies that focus on increasing perceptions of fairness and reducing social comparisons to the superrich.

In terms of future research, we hope that our study paves the way for other work that might further unravel the complexity of income inequality’s effects. In particular, future scholars should continue to investigate how income inequality may impact individuals differently depending on who they are, and where they live. Finally, the role of organizations in affecting levels of income inequality (and consequently, SWB) is also a very promising area of study. Given the complexity of this social phenomenon, as well as its highly significant implications for policy, future work on all of these topics is direly needed.

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How to Promote More Inclusive and Equitable Ways of Managing

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[We’re pleased to welcome Stephen Allen of the University of Hull, UK. Stephen recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Learning from Friends: Developing appreciations for unknowing in reflexive practice.”  From Stephen:]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

The concept of ‘reflexivity’ (involving appreciating and exploring how our knowing about being in a world is situated historically, socially, culturally and materially) has been a key interest in my research over the past six years or so.  This article was developed around my interest in understanding more about what being reflexive can mean for our day-to-day practice.  From attending a Quaker meeting over the past four or so years I began to wonder how Quaker processes could be seen to offer images of what it means to practice reflexivity in how we conduct ourselves.  The potential to consider how the Quaker ‘Business Method’ can help us to embrace our inevitably limited view of the world, our unknowing, is fascinating.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

This is a conceptual paper so there are not really ‘findings’ as such.  However, through writing the paper I became increasingly surprised and impressed by the intellectual quality of Quaker ideas and processes for helping us to explore how we can better come together in the pursuit of equitable and democratic ways of working and living.  Understanding how we can interac
t with others in light of an awareness of our inevitably limited view of the world I see as a crucial challenge in how we go about organising ourselves.  The article hopefully offers some insight in this area.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

As mentioned the article is all about exploring reflexivity in practice.  It offers images of possible ways that we can hopefully make wise decisions together.  There are a lot of opportunities for future research in relation to Quaker processes – I mention some in the article – and so my hope is that these 350 year old ways of organising which have seen limited academic attention become more interesting to researchers.

 

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Who Does Referral-Based Hiring Help Most, and How?

9323706832_efbf0759ba_zReferral-based hiring is a commonplace practice for modern organizations, which holds considerable benefits for employees hired based upon a referral, including greater chances for upward mobility within the company. A recent paper published in ILR Review entitled “Lasting Effects? Referrals and Career Mobility of Demographic Groups in Organizations,” further studies the benefits of referral based hiring, and finds that the positive impact does not effect different demographic groups equally. Rather, authors Jennifer Merluzzi and Adina Sterling find that referral-based hiring provides the biggest increase in promotional opportunities for racial minorities. The abstract for the paper:

While prior research has suggested that network-based hiring in the form of referrals can lead to better career outcomes, few studies have tested whether such career advantages differ across demographic groups. Using archival data from a single organization for nearly 16,000 employees over an 11-year period, the authors examine the effect of hiring by referrals on the number of promotions employees receive and Current Issue Coverthe differences in this effect across demographic groups. Drawing on theories of referral-based hiring, inequality, and career mobility, they argue that referral-based hiring provides unique promotion advantages for minorities compared to those hired without a referral. Consistent with this argument, they find that referrals are positively associated with promotions for one minority group, blacks, even after controlling for individual and regional labor market differences. The authors explore the possible mechanism for this finding, with initial evidence pointing to referrals providing a signal of quality for black employees. These results suggest refinement to prior research that attests that referral-based hiring disadvantages racial minorities.

You can read “Lasting Effects? Referrals and Career Mobility of Demographic Groups in Organizations” from ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research from ILR Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to Cydcor (CC)

Learning to Lead: A Comparison of Women’s and General Leadership Development Programs

6109345368_004befc070_z[We’re pleased to welcome Keimei Sugiyama of Case Western Reserve University. Keimei recently published an article in Journal of Management Education with co-authors Kevin V. Cavanagh, Chantal van Esch, Diana Bilimoria, and Cara Brown entitled “Inclusive Leadership Development: Drawing from Pedagogies of Women’s and General Leadership Development Programs.” From Keimei:]

The importance of leadership development training focused on women has been well understood given the challenges of overcoming gender biases, stereotypes and unwritten rules that affect women in their leadership identity transition.  Yet there have also been shifts in how we think about the important qualities of leaders such that general programs include enhancing competence in self-awareness and emotional and social skills, making the work of leadership not just about meeting business demands but also about meeting the interpersonal needs of an increasingly globalized and diverse workforce.  If this is the case, then does there continue to be a need for women-focused programs or has our very understanding of leadership shifted enough to include women?

In this context, we were inspired to compare general and women’s leadership development programs in order to explore the following questions:

  • Are general and women’s leadership development programs becoming more similar or do they remain distinct in assumptions of what “leadership” is?
  • How do these assumptions affect how relating to others is addressed in developing as a leader?
  • How do these assumptions address the leadership identity transition of understanding both self and others to develop leadership capabilities?

What we found was that although General Leadership Development Programs JME(GLDPs) and Women’s Leadership Development Program (WLDPs) shared similar themes of leadership development, there was a stark contrast in what each type of program emphasized.  GLDPs were more likely to reflect assumptions of a leader as an independent self, separate from others, and manifested in more agentic and transactional leadership approaches.  WLDPs were more likely to reflect assumptions of a leader as a relational self, learning through connecting with others, and approaching the transition to leadership as relational and identity-based.  Given these contrasts and the challenges that continue to face women in the transition to leadership, we concluded that WLDPs do continue to offer significant value in supporting the advancement of women in leadership.

What surprised us in this study is that despite acknowledgement of the global context of the increasingly diverse workforce, both types of programs in their descriptions did not directly highlight how leadership involves being inclusive of multiple diverse identities and intersectionality (e.g., being a woman of color). We suggest that highlighting the importance of inclusive leadership that both values uniqueness and creates belonging for diverse multiple identities is important for any leadership development program.

We also developed a model that integrates pedagogies implicit in both types of programs to suggest a framework for inclusive leadership development. We anticipate that this framework will be helpful in better balancing and promoting more inclusive approaches to leadership in both types of programs. We also hope that this model helps to expand the research on inclusive leadership and informs new pathways for leaders to be developed in ways that value and enhance all their meaningful identities.

The abstract for the paper:

Trends in extant literature suggest that more relational and identity-based leadership approaches are necessary for leadership that can harness the benefits of the diverse and globalized workforces of today and the future. In this study, we compared general leadership development programs (GLDPs) and women’s leadership development programs (WLDPs) to understand to what extent program descriptions addressed inclusive leadership—leadership that draws on relational skills to value both the uniqueness and belonging needs of diverse identities to create business effectiveness for the long term. GLDPs predominantly reflected pedagogical assumptions of separate knowing, development of the autonomous self, and masculine leadership approaches of agentic and transactional leadership. In contrast, pedagogical assumptions of connected knowing, development of the relational self, and relational and identity-based leadership approaches were more prevalent in WLDPs. These findings suggest that WLDPs continue to offer significant value to supporting women leaders in their advancement, yet both WLDPs and GLDPs can do more to be inclusive of additional diverse identities to better develop leaders of the future who can lead with inclusive behaviors. We suggest a pedagogical framework for inclusive leadership development that may better balance and promote synergies between achieving business priorities and relating to others and their diverse identities.

You can read “Inclusive Leadership Development: Drawing from Pedagogies of Women’s and General Leadership Development Programs” from Journal of Management Education free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to be the first to know about the latest research published by Journal of Management EducationClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to aiesecgermany (CC)

What Factors Increase Gender Diversity in Management?

13887676297_d1da829ccb_zManagement 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 Current Issue Coverpositions. 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.

You can read the article “The View at the Top or Signing at the Bottom? Workplace Diversity Responsibility and Women’s Representation in Management” published in ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to keep current on all of the latest research published by ILR ReviewClick here to sing up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to Will Evans (CC)

 

Whitened Résumés: How Race and Diversity Impacts the Application Process

4818650660_8e0cfee0de_zWhat do employers look for in job applications? This is an essential question for job seekers, and depending upon how an employer represents their hiring practices, it may determine how job applicants choose to represent themselves in their applications. When it comes to race and diversity, this can be an especially complex matter, especially for applicants considering résumé whitening. In the recent Administrative Science Quarterly article, “Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market,” authors Sonia K. Kang, Katherine A. DeCelles, András Ticsik, and Sora Jun consider how the presentation of an employer’s hiring practices directly impacts how applicants choose to represent themselves. The abstract for their paper:

Using interviews, a laboratory experiment, and a résumé audit study, we examine racial minorities’ attempts to avoid anticipated discrimination in labor markets by concealing or downplaying racial cues in job applications, a practice known as “résumé whitening.” Interviews with racial minority university students reveal that while some minority job seekers reject this practice, others view it as essential and use a variety of whitening techniques. Building on the qualitative findings, we conduct a lab study to examine how racial minority job seekers change their résumés in response to different job postings. Results show that when ASQ Covertargeting an employer that presents itself as valuing diversity, minority job applicants engage in relatively little résumé whitening and thus submit more racially transparent résumés. Yet our audit study of how employers respond to whitened and unwhitened résumés shows that organizational diversity statements are not actually associated with reduced discrimination against unwhitened résumés. Taken together, these findings suggest a paradox: minorities may be particularly likely to experience disadvantage when they apply to ostensibly pro-diversity employers. These findings illuminate the role of racial concealment and transparency in modern labor markets and point to an important interplay between the self-presentation of employers and the self-presentation of job seekers in shaping economic inequality.

You can read “Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market” from Administrative Science Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Administrative Science QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

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*Career fair image credited to Michael Starghill, Partnership for Public Service (CC)