ILR Review Special Issue on Workplace Inequality

We’re pleased to announce the release of an ILR Review special issue on workplace inequality — offering important theoretical and practical insights for efforts to reduce inequality in organizations. Many thanks to guest editors Pamela S. Tolbert and Emilio J. Castilla.  Papers in the issue empirically examine the efficacy of a range of practices to reduce racial and gender disparities in hiring, promotion, and compensation.  They also identify key contingencies that affect the relationship between organizational practices and outcomes, showing differences in effects for women and minorities, for members at different hierarchical levels, and for members drawn from internal or external labor markets.

Rose Batt and Larry Kahn, Editors


ILR Review

January 2017; Vol. 70, No. 1


A Special Issue on Inequality in the Workplace


Editorial Essay: Introduction to a Special Issue on Inequality in the Workplace (“What Works?”)

Pamela S. Tolbert and Emilio J. Castilla


Equality for Whom? Organizational Policies and the Gender Gap across the German Earnings Distribution

Matt L. Huffman, Joe King, and Malte Reichelt

Abstract:  Work establishments are critical for the creation and maintenance of gender inequality. Organizational practices, most notably those that formalize personnel systems or target gender inequality, are often assumed to have uniform effects on inequality across the wage hierarchy. This assumption has eluded careful empirical scrutiny. The authors estimate unconditional quantile regressions with a unique German linked employer-employee data set to assess whether formalized human resource practices, female-friendly diversity measures, and the availability of workplace child care facilities affect wage inequality differently across the wage distribution. While these policies reduce gender inequality in general, they do so more strongly near the bottom of the earnings distribution. Policies that formalize personnel systems and explicitly promote female employees are particularly advantageous to women in low-wage jobs. These results suggest that gender policies have a more subtle effect on earnings inequality than previously recognized, requiring scholars and practitioners to investigate their unique effects at various points of the earnings distribution.


Mandating Change: The Impact of Court-Ordered Policy Changes on Managerial Diversity

Elizabeth Hirsh and Youngjoo Cha


Abstract:  Although complying with and monitoring court-mandated changes in organizations’ policies following employment discrimination lawsuits can be costly to both employers and taxpayers, little is known about the impact of such mandates on increasing sex and race managerial diversity in organizations. Using data on approximately 500 high-profile employment discrimination lawsuits resolved in U.S. federal courts between 1996 and 2008, the authors estimate the impact of court-mandated policy changes on shifts in the presence of white women, black women, and black men in managerial positions. Policies designed to reduce bias expand opportunities for white women but not for other demographic groups. By contrast, opportunities in management for all groups expand when policies are designed to increase organizational accountability by establishing specific recruitment, hiring, or promotion plans and monitoring arrangements. Policies designed to increase rights’ awareness are associated with declines in managerial diversity. Notably, compared with verdicts and settlements with modest penalties, those with the most costly monetary payouts do not expand managerial diversity; and in fact, they can backfire.


Gender Sorting and the Glass Ceiling in High-Tech Firms

Roberto M. Fernandez and Santiago Campero


Abstract:  With few exceptions, studies have conceived of the glass ceiling as reflecting internal promotion biases. In this article, the authors argue that glass ceiling patterns can also be the result of external recruitment and hiring processes. Using data on people applying by means of the Internet for jobs at 441 small- and medium-sized high-tech firms, they find evidence that the glass ceiling is produced by both internal and external hiring processes. On the supply side, females are sorted into lower-level job queues than males. On the demand side, screening biases against women also are evident, but a series of “what if” simulations suggest that demand-side screening processes play a comparatively minor role in producing the glass ceiling pattern. These results suggest that bias remediation policies designed to equalize gender differences in hiring chances are likely to be less effective than recruitment and outreach policies designed to improve gender disparities in candidate pools.


Lasting Effects? Referrals and Career Mobility of Demographic Groups in Organizations

Jennifer Merluzzi and Adina Sterling


Abstract:  While prior research has suggested that network-based hiring in the form of referrals can lead to better career outcomes, few studies have tested whether such career advantages differ across demographic groups. Using archival data from a single organization for nearly 16,000 employees over an 11-year period, the authors examine the effect of hiring by referrals on the number of promotions employees receive and the differences in this effect across demographic groups. Drawing on theories of referral-based hiring, inequality, and career mobility, they argue that referral-based hiring provides unique promotion advantages for minorities compared to those hired without a referral. Consistent with this argument, they find that referrals are positively associated with promotions for one minority group, blacks, even after controlling for individual and regional labor market differences. The authors explore the possible mechanism for this finding, with initial evidence pointing to referrals providing a signal of quality for black employees. These results suggest refinement to prior research that attests that referral-based hiring disadvantages racial minorities.


The Effect of the External Labor Market on the Gender Pay Gap among Executives

Cristina Quintana-García and Marta M. Elvira


Abstract:  To date, few empirical studies have explored potential differences in the effects of external labor market hiring on the compensation of male and female managers. Using longitudinal data from a sample of public high-technology firms on individual top executives’ total compensation in the United States, and the separate components of base and variable pay, the authors study the effects of being an external hire for men and women. The results suggest that women who are external labor market hires are disadvantaged, in both base and variable compensation, compared with internal placements. The analyses also provide some evidence that having greater representation of women in top positions reduces the disadvantaging effects for women of being an external hire.


Gender Diversity on U.S. Corporate Boards: Are We Running in Place?

Catherine H. Tinsley, James B. Wade, Brian G. M. Main, and Charles A. O’Reilly


Abstract:  Despite rhetoric supporting the advancement of women on corporate boards, meager evidence supports significant progress over the past decade in the United States. The authors examine archival board data (for more than 3,000 U.S. publicly traded firms) from 2002 to 2011 and find that a female is most likely to be appointed to a corporate board when a woman has just exited the position. A similar propensity occurs to reappoint a male when a man leaves, although the effect is smaller than for women. The authors argue that this “gender-matching heuristic” can impede progress in attaining gender diversity, regardless of intention, because it emphasizes the replacement of existing women rather than changing board composition. The authors replicate this effect in follow-up laboratory studies and show that “what works” to increase the representation of women on boards, irrespective of gender matching, is to increase the number of women in the candidate pool.


Women at Work: Women’s Access to Power and the Gender Earnings Gap

Anja-Kristin Abendroth, Silvia Melzer, Alexandra Kalev, and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey


Abstract:  Using a unique sample of 5,022 workers in 94 large German workplaces, the authors explore whether and how women’s access to higher level positions, firms’ human resources practices, and workers’ qualification levels are associated with gender differences in earnings. First, they find that having more women in management reduces the gender earnings gap for jobs with low qualifications, but not those with high qualifications. Second, they find that while men’s compensation is positively affected by having a male supervisor, women with a female supervisor do not receive such an advantage. Finally, they find that human resources practices and job-level qualifications moderate the association between gendered power and gender earnings inequalities. Integrating women into managerial and supervisory roles does not automatically reduce gender inequalities; its impacts are contingent on organizational context.


The View at the Top or Signing at the Bottom? Workplace Diversity Responsibility and Women’s Representation in Management

Mary E. Graham, Maura A. Belliveau, and Julie L. Hotchkiss


Abstract:  Women lag men in their representation in management jobs, which negatively affects women’s careers and company performance. Using data from 81 publicly traded firms with more than 2,000 establishments, the authors examine the impact of two management structures that may influence gender diversity in management positions. The authors find no association between the presence of an HR executive on the top management team—a structure envisioned in practice as enhancing diversity but which could, instead, operate merely symbolically—and the proportion of women in management. By contrast, the authors show a strong, positive association between a previously unexamined measure of commitment to diversity—the hierarchical rank of the individual certifying the company’s required, confidential federal EEO-1 report—and women’s representation in management. These findings counter the common perception that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations are too weak to affect gender diversity. The authors discuss the implications for diversity scholarship, as well as for management practice and public policy.


Book Reviews

Book Review: Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization

Reviewed by Marshall I. Steinbaum

Book Review: Labour and Transnational Action in Times of Crisis

Reviewed by Ines Wagner

Book Review: Transforming Relationships for High Performance: The Power of Relational Coordination

Reviewed by Timothy J. Vogus

Book Review: Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict

Reviewed by Jerry A. Jacobs

Book Review: Beyond the Beat: Musicians Building Community in Nashville

Reviewed by Ann Markusen

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