"It seems that the more individualized process of evaluating each worker on his or her merits — rather than using blanket criteria such as position or tenure — creates awareness and accountability among executives and motivates them to think deeply and creatively about who they should keep during downsizing," said study author Alexandra Kalev, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University.
"This outcome of performance-based downsizing is not only good for managerial diversity, but also for the future of the company because the best performers are kept."
Titled, "How You Downsize Is Who You Downsize: Biased Formalization, Accountability, and Managerial Diversity," the study, which appears in the February issue of the American Sociological Review, focuses on white and black employees and considers data on 327 private U.S-based companies that downsized between 1980 and 2002. The companies, from manufacturing, service, and retail industries, had at least 50 workers prior to layoffs.
"In an average downsizing organization where layoff decisions considered workers' position, the shares of white women and blacks in management declined by almost 25 and 20 percent, respectively," said Kalev. "Downsizing by tenure reduced the share of white women in management by more than 20 percent. Notably, two-thirds of companies in my sample used position or tenure as criteria for layoff decisions."
Making matters worse for white female and black managers is that position-based downsizing, the most harmful type of downsizing for those groups, became increasingly prevalent over the course of the study period, Kalev said. In the early 1980s, downsizing companies made position-based layoffs less than 30 percent of the time. By 2002, however, downsizing companies made position-based layoffs more than 50 percent of the time.
In addition, Kalev found that companies increasingly used external lawyers to guide them through the downsizing process, which also didn't bode well for managerial diversity.
"There is a difference between the effect of an attorney who is part of the company and one that the company hires to handle a special task," Kalev said. "While in house attorneys helped minimize damage to managerial diversity during downsizing, outsourced legal experts did not."
This was true even when position or tenure were used in downsizing decisions. "I was surprised by the finding that an internal legal counsel made such a big difference in the results of downsizing," Kalev said. "I discovered that an in house attorney raised awareness of diversity issues among executives and this motivated them to use tools such as repositioning and retraining to maintain managerial diversity."
In terms of the importance of her research, Kalev said, "This study is a wake-up call. Downsizing is increasingly done in ways that hit managerial diversity the hardest, while downsizing practices that help protect diversity have become less and less common. If these trends continue, women and minorities will become increasingly rare in management jobs."
About the American Sociological Association and the American Sociological Review
The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society. The American Sociological Review is the ASA's flagship journal.
The research article described above is available by request for members of the media. For a copy of the full study, contact Daniel Fowler, ASA's Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel Fowler | EurekAlert!
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences