Published: May 31, 2018

This paper found clear and consistent evidence that women and ethnic minorities who promote diversity in hiring are penalized in terms of how others perceive their competence and effectiveness. This might help explain why nonwhite job applicants who include experiences related to their ethnicity on their resumes are more likely to be passed over for jobs — even at companies that openly value diversity. The studies show clearly that it’s risky for low-status group members to help others like them. And this can lead to women and minorities choosing not to advocate for other women and minorities once they reach positions of power, as they don’t want to be perceived as incompetent, poor performers. The harsh reality discussed here highlights the importance of putting appropriate structures and processes in place to guarantee the fair evaluation of women and minorities. The challenge of creating equality should not be placed on the shoulders of individuals who are at greater risk of being crushed by the weight of this goal.

Heckman and Johnson

Figure 2 shows that when a male leader (solid line) engaged in diversity-valuing behavior, his performance ratings went up. But when a female leader (dashed line) engaged in diversity-valuing behavior, her performance ratings went down.

Hekman, David R., Stefanie K. Johnson et al. (2017), Academy of Management Journal

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