Title

Actions speak louder than words: Outsiders' perceptions of diversity mixed messages

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

9-2016

Abstract

To attract a gender diverse workforce, many employers use diversity statements to publicly signal that they value gender diversity. However, this often represents a misalignment between words and actions (i.e., a diversity mixed message) because most organizations are male dominated, especially in board positions. We conducted 3 studies to investigate the potentially indirect effect of such diversity mixed messages through perceived behavioral integrity on employer attractiveness. In Study 1, following a 2 x 2 design, participants (N = 225) were either shown a pro gender diversity statement or a neutral statement, in combination with a gender diverse board (4 men and 4 women) or a uniform all-male board (8 men). Participants' perceived behavioral integrity of the organization was assessed. In Study 2, participants (N = 251) either read positive or negative reviews of the organization's behavioral integrity. Employer attractiveness was then assessed. Study 3 (N = 427) investigated the impact of board gender composition on perceived behavioral integrity and employer attractiveness using a bootstrapping procedure. Both the causal-chain design of Study 1 and 2, as well as the significance test of the proposed indirect relationship in Study 3, revealed that a diversity mixed message negatively affected an organization's perceived behavioral integrity, and low behavioral integrity in turn negatively impacted employer attractiveness. In Study 3, there was also evidence for a tipping point (more than 1 woman on the board was needed) with regard to participants' perceptions of the organization's behavioral integrity.

Keywords

Diversity, mixed message, employer attractiveness, women on board, behavioral integrity

Discipline

Human Resources Management | Organizational Behavior and Theory

Research Areas

Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources

Publication

Journal of Applied Psychology

Volume

101

Issue

9

First Page

1329

Last Page

1341

ISSN

0021-9010

Identifier

10.1037/apl0000107

Publisher

American Psychological Association

Additional URL

https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000107

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