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Increasing Workplace Diversity: Evidence from a Recruiting Experiment at a Fortune 500 Company

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffrey A. Flory
  • Andreas Leibbrandt
  • Christina Rott
  • Olga Stoddard

Abstract

The persistent lack of workplace diversity in management and leadership may lead to organizational vulnerabilities. White males occupy most high-profile positions in the largest U.S. corporations whereas African Americans, Hispanics, and women are clearly underrepresented in leadership roles. While many firms and other organizations have set ambitious goals to increase demographic diversity, there is a dearth of empirical evidence on effective ways to reach them. We use a natural field experiment to test several hypotheses on effective means to attract minority candidates for top professional careers. By randomly varying the content in recruiting materials of a major financial services corporation with over 10,000 employees, we test different types of signals regarding the extent and manner in which the employer values diversity among its workers. We find that signaling explicit interest in employee diversity can reverse the ethnicity gap in rates of interest and applications, and that it has a strong positive effect on interest in openings among racial minority candidates, the likelihood that they apply, and the probability that they are selected. These results uncover an effective method for disrupting monocultures in management through a minor intervention that influences sorting among job-seekers into high-profile careers.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & Christina Rott & Olga Stoddard, 2018. "Increasing Workplace Diversity: Evidence from a Recruiting Experiment at a Fortune 500 Company," CESifo Working Paper Series 7025, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7025
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp7025.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2015. "Do Competitive Workplaces Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Job Entry Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 122-155.
    2. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, September.
    3. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 2005. "Would the Elimination of Affirmative Action Affect Highly Qualified Minority Applicants? Evidence from California and Texas," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 416-434, April.
    4. Thomas Buser & Muriel Niederle & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2014. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Career Choices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1409-1447.
    5. Buser, Thomas & Ranehill, Eva & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2017. "Gender differences in willingness to compete: The role of public observability," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2017-203, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    6. Cadsby, C. Bram & Servátka, Maroš & Song, Fei, 2013. "How competitive are female professionals? A tale of identity conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 284-303.
    7. Olga Shurchkov, 2012. "Under Pressure: Gender Differences In Output Quality And Quantity Under Competition And Time Constraints," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(5), pages 1189-1213, October.
    8. Peter Hinrichs, 2012. "The Effects of Affirmative Action Bans on College Enrollment, Educational Attainment, and the Demographic Composition of Universities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 712-722, August.
    9. Francine D. Blau & Janet M. Currie & Rachel T. A. Croson & Donna K. Ginther, 2010. "Can Mentoring Help Female Assistant Professors? Interim Results from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 348-352, May.
    10. Muriel Niederle & Carmit Segal & Lise Vesterlund, 2013. "How Costly Is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, May.
    11. Dickson, Lisa M., 2006. "Does ending affirmative action in college admissions lower the percent of minority students applying to college?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 109-119, February.
    12. Buser, Thomas & Geijtenbeek, Lydia & Plug, Erik, 2015. "Do Gays Shy Away from Competition? Do Lesbians Compete Too Much?," IZA Discussion Papers 9382, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    14. Núria Rodríguez-Planas, 2012. "Longer-Term Impacts of Mentoring, Educational Services, and Learning Incentives: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in the United States," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 121-139, October.
    15. Balafoutas, Loukas & Davis, Brent J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2016. "Affirmative action or just discrimination? A study on the endogenous emergence of quotas," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 87-98.
    16. Jordi Brandts & Cristina Rott, 2017. "Advice from Women and Men and Selection into Competition," Working Papers 1007, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    17. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:136-40 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2018. "Do Equal Employment Opportunity Statements Backfire? Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment On Job-Entry Decisions," NBER Working Papers 25035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    diversity; experiment; field experiment; gender; race;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis

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