Members of SAP SuccessFactors’ Value Realization Research team are constantly reading up on the topics most important to you, your employees, and your managers. Each week we will be sharing an interesting finding we’ve read about to give you innovative and data-based ideas on how to better structure your HR processes and more effectively manage your workforce.

This week: Informal job candidate interactions may be hindering your company’s ability to build a diverse workforce  


There has been a lot of research on formal recruiting processes and how they impact the extent to which people of different ethnicities, nationalities, genders and backgrounds enter organizations. Less understood is the impact of the informal ways potential candidates interact with organizations before getting to the formal recruiting stage, and the discrimination they may face there. In their recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Milkman (Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania) and colleagues looked at whether discriminatory behavior occurs at this informal stage. They sent messages to over 6,500 university professors coming from fictional prospective students seeking information about the doctoral program and mentorship opportunities. These messages were identical except for the student names, which were randomly assigned to represent different ethnicities and genders. They found that professors were overwhelmingly more likely to respond when the student had a typically White male name, and this effect persisted even in universities where minorities and females were well-represented, and worsened in higher-paying disciplines. In a world where organizations are seeking to build diverse, competent workforces, it is troubling that job candidates may face discrimination before they’ve even had a chance to formally express interest in working for a company. This suggests that organizations that think through the potential impact of not only their formal recruiting processes but also their informal job candidate interactions will be more successful in attracting and engaging a diverse talent pool.

For more information, access the research abstract and full article here.

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