In the digital age, many corporations communicate with their publics via online channels. Among many channels, a corporation’s official Web site is often used for informing publics of its performance and other corporate-related information and for shaping a positive corporate image. This study quantitatively analyzed corporate Web sites, particularly the “About us” Web pages of Fortune 500 corporations based on symbolic convergence theory (SCT), which describes the formation of symbolic reality and the shared meaning of that symbolic reality among the public. A content analysis revealed that economic corporate management was the dominant rhetorical vision, and the fantasy, in the context of SCT, of being a superior company was emphasized by the 500 examined corporations. Such symbolic reality was constructed using corresponding structural tools of Web content, such as dramatis personae, plot line, and scene. In addition, the rhetorical vision and fantasy themes created by the Web sites turned out to be contingent on business classifications (retailer/distributor, manufacturers, and financial/informational/recreational services). Companies that pursued other types of fantasy themes (such as admirable, futuristic, and competent/stable) and rhetorical visions (such as socially responsible corporate management) were also identified. Some suggestions for corporate communicators are provided based on the results of this analysis.
What 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 Quarterlyarticle, “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 targeting 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.