Diversity at work has become a bigger and bigger focus — and not just for employers. Employees are increasingly interested in the issue, with 69% of millennials and Gen Z-ers saying they would be much more likely to work for an employer for more than five years if it had a diverse workforce.
A new study finds that job seekers are even willing to explore jobs with lower salaries when companies are more diverse. It finds that sharing information about diversity makes job postings more attractive to job seekers, even when pay is lower.
To conduct the study, the team partnered with an online job listings platform which emails postings relevant to individuals and their job search criteria. For the course of the 11-week study, the platform emailed job listings to 178,862 users placed in one of two conditions. In the baseline condition, participants saw emails in the normal format, with no information on diversity; in the diversity condition, participants saw a numerical diversity score for each listing: information about the race, gender, education, and language skills of a company’s workforce compared to others in the same sector and location. Information was then gathered on whether the email was opened, and which job listings were clicked on by each user.
Participants in the diversity condition tended to click on job listings from companies with slightly higher diversity scores than those in the baseline condition: that is, participants seemed to be paying attention to information about diversity, and using this when deciding whether to click on the listing. And the team also found that participants were willing to look at listings with lower salaries if they came from companies with a higher diversity score.
In a follow-up survey, participants overall indicated that they felt a diversity score would be useful in their job search. Women and people of colour were most likely to believe this would be helpful. As for why they felt it would be helpful, 50% agreed that diversity is an important social issue and wanted to know whether a potential employer agreed; 45% believed that a score would indicate how much they would enjoy working at the company; and 37% believed it would help them assess the prospects of working for such an employer.
Overall, the research suggests that diversity is an important factor for those looking for employment, up to the point that some would sacrifice money in order to work somewhere with a diverse workforce. However, the team notes that click-through rate may not represent actual willingness to lose salary in exchange for diversity — it may be that participants clicked out of curiosity or, if offered two jobs, would still take the one with the higher salary. Future research could look more closely at the relationship between interest in and dedication to working for a diverse organisation and salary.
On the whole, though, the results suggest that diversity continues to be a priority for jobseekers. To attract the best candidates, therefore, companies could look to further disclose such statistics — something which may prompt them to make more significant efforts in making their workforces more diverse.
Written by Emily Reynolds is a staff writer at BPS Research Digest
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