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Mentoring and Diversity

  • Susan Athey
  • Christopher Avery
  • Peter Zemsky

This paper studies the forces which determine how diversity at a firm evolves over time. We consider a dynamic model o a single firm with two levels of employees, the entry level and the upper level. In each period, the firm selects a subset of the entry-level workers for promotion to the upper level. The members of the entry-level worker pool vary in their initial ability as well as in their type,' where type could refer to gender or cultural background. Employees augment their initial ability by acquiring specific human capital in mentoring interactions with upper level employees. We assume that an entry-level worker receives more mentoring when a greater proportion of upper-level workers match the entry-level worker's type. In this model, it is optimal for the firm to consider type in addition to ability in making promotion decisions, so as to maximize the effectiveness of future mentoring. We derived conditions under which firms attain full diversity, as well as conditions under which there are multiple steady states, so that the level of diversity depends on the firm's initial conditions. With multiple steady states, temporary affirmative action policies can have a long-run impact on diversity levels.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6496.

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Date of creation: Apr 1998
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Publication status: published as Athey, Susan, Christopher Avery and Peter Zemsky. "Mentoring And Diversity," American Economic Review, 2000, v90(4,Sep), 765-786.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6496
Note: LS
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  1. A Rosen, 1992. "An Equilibrium Search-Matching Model of Discrimination," CEP Discussion Papers dp0097, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  3. Coate, S. & Loury, G.C., 1992. "Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Papers 3, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  4. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
  5. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1994. "Comparing Equilibria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 441-59, June.
  6. Stephen J. Spurr, 1990. "Sex discrimination in the legal profession: A study of promotion," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(4), pages 406-417, April.
  7. Cornell, Bradford & Welch, Ivo, 1996. "Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 542-71, June.
  8. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1988. "Incentives in Academics: Why Is There Tenure?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 453-72, June.
  9. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  10. Prescott, Edward C & Visscher, Michael, 1980. "Organization Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 446-61, June.
  11. Bergmann, Barbara R, 1989. "Does the Market for Women's Labor Need Fixing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 43-60, Winter.
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