How to Increase Workplace Diversity? Start by Asking for Diverse Candidates

Many firms have set ambitious goals to increase diversity among their employees, but there is a dearth of empirical evidence on effective ways to reach these goals. Despite significant education gains among underrepresented groups, and substantial resources devoted to enhancing employee diversity in high-profile occupations, many firms still struggle to increase diversity in the workforce.

Jeffrey Flory, Andreas Leibbrandt, Christina Rott, and Olga Stoddard used a natural field experiment to test several hypotheses on effective means to attract minority candidates to top professional careers. They randomly varied the content in the recruiting materials of a Fortune 500 financial services corporation with more than 10,000 employees. Potential applicants received messaging that specifically mentioned the value of diversity to the firm, while another group received neutral messages with no mention of diversity.

The team found that signaling explicit interest in employee diversity more than doubled the interest in openings among racial minority candidates, as well as the likelihood that they apply and are selected. Impacts on gender diversity were less precise, and generally not significant.

Read the full study in the Journal of Human Resources: “Increasing Workplace Diversity: Evidence from a Recruiting Experiment at a Fortune 500 Company,” by Jeffrey A. Flory, Andreas Leibbrandt, Christina Rott, and Olga Stoddard.

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Jeffrey A. Flory (@JeffreyFloryEco) is at Claremont McKenna College. Andreas Leibbrandt is at Griffith University. Christina Rott is at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Olga Stoddard (@OlgaStoddard) is at Brigham Young University.

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