Diversity and Inclusion: What We’ve Been Getting Wrong

Diversity and Inclusion: What We’ve Been Getting Wrong

The workplace is not always a welcoming place for women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. Differences in career opportunities and wage disparity have led to uneven participation in economic activity. In the U.S., this has been noted particularly in gender differences. Women account for 47% of the labor force but occupy only 17% of the board seats[1]. Of the firms represented in the S&P 500, only 24 have a female CEO[2]. The situation is not much different with respect to race. While Hispanics comprise 17% of the US labor force and have a higher labor participation rate than any other race, they occupy less than 10% of management roles[3]. Race has been linked to unequal access to the most critical drivers of economic success, namely power, privilege, and control. ​

Business and institutions can do more to create a fair and equitable society. A rising focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) has become a step in the right direction. However, the real impact of existing programs is minimal, primarily due to ill-informed practices or lack of full commitment from organizational leaders. Below is a list of the biggest missed opportunities resulting from making misplaced investments in D&I. ​


Nurturing a diverse workforce is not only a good societal practice but also good for business. As evidenced by a number of studies, a diverse workforce has been associated with superior business performance. According to a McKinsey study, firms that are in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians[4]. Similarly, firms that are in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform their industry peers. In general, firms with greater racial diversity are associated with increased sales revenue, a higher number of customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits. Despite the purported benefits of increasing diversity efforts, organizations across the world struggle to attract and retain a diverse workforce. ​


Achieving racial, ethnic, and gender diversity has been a tough challenge. Despite the investments, in many areas advancements have halted or even regressed. In the United States, women’s participation in the labor force had been rising, reaching a high of 60.04% in 1999. However, since the year 2000, women’s participation in the workforce has been declining[5]. Women comprise 47% of the U.S. labor force and 51% of the management and professional occupations. This gender balance steadily declines as we look higher up in the organization, with women holding only about 17% of corporate board seats[2]. Indeed, many researchers and organizations alike have been interested in this “glass ceiling” effect, or the decline of women’s representation as we move higher up the chain of management. ​

The picture is similarly grim concerning race and ethnicity. In the United States, there is an uneven racial and ethnic representation in management roles. Asians are typically over-represented in management and related roles (51%), Hispanics are under-represented (22%). Hispanics work longer hours in lower-paying jobs, such as service (24.4% Hispanic) and construction (32%)[3]. ​

Regarding generational differences, for the first time since the great depression, US parents believe their children will not be better off than them[8]. Furthermore, the workforce is rapidly aging. Retired workers over the age of 55 are expected to make up more than 1 in 4 of all workers in the U.S. by the year 2022[9]. Longer lifespans coupled with economic declines have led many to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 years. Such demographic shifts make for new and interesting concerns for organizations as they face the rising tide of diversity. ​


Despite a great deal of talk about diversity and inclusion in many industries, investments in D&I efforts have often been misplaced. Most efforts are narrowly focused. The intervention themselves either lack efficacy or are severely underpowered. Given the scale of the challenge and the inevitability of diversity at work, organizations that lean on evidence-backed ways to promote D&I stand to gain in substantial ways. Here are four practices that have received significant empirical support.

First, organizations must shift their efforts from running isolated programs to adopting an integrated talent management focus, one that addresses the entire life cycle of an employee. The vast majority of diversity programs focus on hiring. In the United States, this is partly due to a legal system where practices are based on precedence. The infamous lawsuit between Griggs vs. Duke Power put a spotlight on the impact of hiring discrimination[10]. Even today, many D&I efforts fixate entirely on avoiding similar lawsuits by solely focusing on hiring practices. A recent survey from the Boston Consulting Group shows that the primary barrier that women face is less related to hiring[11]. A bigger challenge is in finding meaningful advancement opportunities. To fully address the diversity and inclusion challenges, organizations must take an integrated approach, one that addresses the entire employee life-cycle. Furthermore, once an organization has a diverse group of employees, they must invest in engaging, retaining, and promoting these employees, as well as creating opportunities for advancement.

Second, organizations must look to make long-term investments in workplace flexibility programs, a practice that has been linked to affecting substantial improvements in gender diversity. Compared to men, women are more likely to be the primary caregivers and bear a disproportionately higher share of familial responsibilities. As a result, women are more likely to withdraw from the workplace when the challenges of balancing professional and personal lives become difficult. In one of the most influential studies on what works in advancing gender diversity, Australian researchers Kateryna Kalysh, Carol Kulik, & Sanjeewa Perera gathered panel data across twelve years from a random sample of 675 organizations involving over 600,000 employees[12]. They found that organizations that consistently invested in work-life practices for eight years saw an increase in the proportion of women in leadership positions. However, this pattern of the relationship was true only for firms where at least 43% of the employees were female. This study further highlights the importance of taking an integrated talent management approach to promote D&I. Assembling the right bundle of practices is an important consideration. The study found that when company efforts included multiple options such as flexible schedules, parental leave arrangements, and provisions of services for caregiving, it was associated with a higher proportion of women in management. Importantly, this relationship was found only after a time lag of eight years of investing in such work-life programs. Organizations must keep in mind this caveat and prepare to commit to long-term diversity initiatives.

Third, organizations must take a hard look at their programs that emphasize differences rather than bringing people with differences together to work toward a common goal. Many traditional diversity training initiatives focus on what makes us different from each other. There is growing evidence that these traditional diversity training efforts have backfired and increased negative feelings towards certain minority groups[13]. In a way, it’s similar to the adage of “don’t think about pink elephants.” When someone is told not to think about a pink elephant, the very first thing to capture their thought is a pink elephant. Likewise, if organizations tell employees that they are different but do not focus on these differences, it may only increase division[14]. Leading social psychologist, Dr. Susan Fiske recommends a better approach to diversity training. Enabling and empowering employees to work toward a common goal can be a great equalizer. Such efforts enable teams to connect based on similarity in purpose rather than the differences of demographic diversity. Experts agree that for diversity and inclusion efforts to be successful, they must meet four important conditions. First, the effort must result in equalization of status. Second, it must bring employees together to focus on common goals. Third, work must be structured such that is requires cooperation among members of diverse groups to achieve the common goal, and fourth, there must be consistent leadership support using rewards and punishments. In sum, forming diverse but equal work teams and focusing on common goal achievement through teamwork will produce significantly better D&I results than utilizing more traditional training sessions.

Fourth, adopt habit-breaking interventions which bear significant promise in reducing biased thinking[17]. A habit is an implicit bias against another group that has been formed unconsciously over time. Thus, bias and discrimination are like unwanted bad habits. Because these biases, or habits, exist in all of us and are formed without our conscious knowledge, they must be addressed consciously to be altered. Habit-breaking focuses on reducing biased ways of thinking through a combination of techniques similar to learning a new skill. It begins with gaining awareness of the existence of bias in one’s thinking and reflecting upon how it affects minority groups. Once these patterns are detected and made conscious, it requires practicing strategies to reduce the biases. This technique of “breaking the habit” of implicit bias is effective because it requires learning about the contexts that activate the bias and findings ways to replace the biased responses with responses that reflect one’s non-prejudiced goals. The efficacy of this method has been well documented. However, learning to monitor for one’s own biased thinking and replacing it with a non-prejudiced way of thinking requires concerted practice over an extended period. One study compared the hiring rates of women faculty at two departments, one used the habit-breaking method, and the other did not. Over three years, the department that utilized a habit-breaking intervention saw a 52% increase in the number of women hired compared to the control’s 28% increase towards the same goal.

This blog presents a set of well-tested ideas for advancing diversity and inclusion in organizations. While the approaches call for taking a holistic view of talent, the outcomes are not restricted to D&I alone. Companies can expect to reap benefits that go much beyond talent outcomes including better employer branding and positioning with customers leading to the upside of better business outcomes. By writing this blog, we hope to have put a spotlight on those practices that are backed by strong evidence, thereby sifting out the popular and widely available information from those that have a higher probability of driving success. For savvy HR leaders, our hope is that these evidence-based guidelines present a viable approach to managing human capital risks and returns. ​

Author notes

I am grateful to Alyssa Perez for the research support and help in writing this blog.



1| Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm

2|   CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/06/these-are-the-only-women-ceos-left-among-sp-500-companies.html

3|   Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018). Race, Economics, And Social Status. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2018/race-economics-and-social-status/pdf/race-economics-and-social-status.pdf

4| McKinsey and Company (2015). Why Diversity Matters? Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters

5| Brookings, (2017. 10 Facts about American Women in the Workforce. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2017/12/05/10-facts-about-american-women-in-the-workforce/

8| Pew Research Center (2006). Once Again, the Future Ain’t What It Used to Be. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2010/10/BetterOff.pdf

9|   Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017). Older workers: Labor force trends and career options
Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2017/article/older-workers.html

10|  Griggs v. Duke Power Co. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griggs_v._Duke_Power_Co.

11| The Boston Consulting Group. (2017). From Intention to Impact. Retrieved from https://media-publications.bcg.com/BCG-Bridging-diversity-gap-workplace-Nov2017.pdf

12| Kalysh, K., Kulik, C. T., & Perera, S. (2016). Help or hindrance? Work–life practices and women in management. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(3), 504-518.

13| Dobbin, F., & Kalev, A. (2016). Why diversity programs fail. Harvard Business Review, 94(7), 14.

14| Gaertner, S. L., Dovidio, J. F., Anastasio, P. A., Bachman, B. A., & Rust, M. C. (1993). The common ingroup identity model: Recategorization and the reduction of intergroup bias. European review of social psychology, 4(1), 1-26.

17| Devine, P. G., Forscher, P. S., Austin, A. J., & Cox, W. T. (2012). Long-term reduction in implicit race bias: A prejudice habit-breaking intervention. Journal of experimental social psychology, 48(6), 1267-1278.

How to Fail Less in Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

How to Fail Less in Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

The practice of setting New Year’s resolutions is most prevalent in the western world.  It can be traced back to ancient Babylonian times more than 4000 years ago. The original practice involved making promises to repay debts and return borrowed objects [1]. In modern days resolutions are more personal.  According to a survey by YouGov, the most popular New Year’s resolutions in the US for 2018 were eating healthier (37%), getting more exercise (37%), and saving money (37%) [2]. The top 10 resolutions list also featured three work-related items –reading more (18%), learning a new skill (15%), and getting a new job (14%).

It’s one thing to make a resolution but a different story to stick to it. How good are people at keeping their resolutions?  Based on the most frequently cited estimates only 8-12% are successful. A study by Norcross, Mrykalo, and Blagys explains what differentiates resolvers from non-resolvers.  The researchers recruited two groups of study participants [3].  The resolver (N=159) group included those who had committed to actively working toward changing behavior.  The non-resolvers (N=123) included those who showed an interest in changing but were not committed. The researcher tracked the participants through telephone interviews for six months.  What they found provides useful guidance for anyone looking for ways to stick with their New Year’s resolution or simply work on changing behavior. Resolvers who were successful in adhering to their resolution in week three and week four engaged in four distinct behaviors.

  1. They exercised greater willpower
  2. They thought about how the problem behaviors were hurting them
  3. They kept things around that would remind them of how the problem behaviors were hurting them
  4. They avoided situations associated with problem behaviors

​Interestingly, the study found that rewarding oneself for changing and positive thinking helped sustain in the initial two weeks but did not contribute favorably to those who were able to maintain beyond the first two weeks.  Whether or not you set resolutions, hope these guidelines are useful for your personal growth. Whether you are looking to lose weight or find new work these four simple steps may make all the difference.


1| Pappas, S. & Geggel, L. (2017). Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions. Live Science. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/42255-history-of-new-years-resolutions.html

2| https://www.statista.com/chart/12386/the-most-common-new-years-resolutions-for-2018/

3| Norcross, J. C., Mrykalo, M. S., & Blagys, M. D. (2002). Auld lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self‐reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of clinical psychology58(4), 397-405.

Performance Appraisal: Getting to the Heart of the Problem

Performance Appraisal: Getting to the Heart of the Problem

Several organizations have done away with performance ratings, and others have made a steadfast commitment to this practice. For those reconsidering their approach – should one scrap performance ratings or work to improve the process? Perhaps the more important question is -are performance appraisals the real problem or is it something else?  We spoke with Dr. Jim Smither, a well-known authority on Performance management.  Dr. Smither’s research has appeared in top-tier peer-reviewed journals. He is also a highly regarded advisor and consultant to corporations and not-for-profit organizations.  This blog post has excerpts of our conversation with Dr. Smither on this controversial topic.

SSB: What’s your reaction to organizations like Adobe and Kelly Services abandoning their performance management processes?

Blog image_1JS: From what I can tell, these organizations are not abandoning their performance management process.  They are abandoning the annual performance ratings.  Those are two different things. I see performance management as something that happens throughout the year and involves a whole series of informal conversations, ongoing feedback and coaching, and focusing on people’s strengths.  It should focus on how to mitigate limitations and how to keep people aligned with ever-shifting organizational goals.  What we are seeing is a shift from an annual event to an ongoing conversation which is what good management is about.

Blog image_2SSB:  Are performance appraisals inherently bad or is it the way they are used that’s at the heart of the problem?It seems like the key players in the performance appraisal process are not getting their needs met.  (a) Employees want to feel that the organization is vested in their growth and well-being, but are not getting the developmental support; (b) managers are uncomfortable or ineffective in distinguishing performance, and (c) organizations are unable to meaningfully distinguish performance through their rewards system.  Do you see these as the underlying issues leading to concerns with the appraisal process?

JS:  I agree with all the reasons outlined but here’s what I would argue.  In some cultures, it does make sense to do an overall rating.  If there is a reward-oriented culture, you can make distinctions in performance, and if there is a significant amount of money on the table, it can work.

SSB: While many organizations are moving away from the rank and yank process (e.g., Microsoft) there are new adopters like Yahoo.  Are there better ways of addressing poor performers

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​JS: I don’t know anybody who likes the rank and yank process. Here’s what happens when you tell people “you have to have someone at the bottom category at the end of the year and we will probably move that person out of the business.” They deliberately keep the weak performers around until the end of the appraisal period, so they have somebody to put in that box. What they ought to do is move the person out of business much earlier. Rank and yank encourages a lot of game playing and creates a lot of dysfunction.

SSB: Given the inherent problems with the rating process, are we ignoring human tendencies that make such ratings flawed?  Studies show that we humans are not perfect, rational decision-makers and our decisions tend to be influenced by all kinds of biases.  Are we asking managers to do something that they are not humanly capable of doing? 

JS: Of course my answer to that is yes.  But everything that managers do is subject to biases, and memory and processing shortcomings, and judgmental problems.  It’s not unique to just the performance appraisal process.

SSB: That’s probably the heart of the problem.  Any other replacement to the current system is likely to be equally flawed as long as manager judgments are involved.   This is probably a great place to implement big-data solutions in HR.  If we had more objective data about performance collected over a period, it would lead to more accurate ratings instead of managers relying on their memory.

JS: I think that’s a noble idea, but I don’t think it’s going to solve the problem.  First of all, we got to make better use of data.  Nobody is going to argue about that.  But for many aspects of work performance, no objective data are available.  Even when we have objective data, that data tends to be deficient or contaminated.  Plus when people figure out the metrics, they try to drive their performance based on the data being captured.  That creates a whole bunch of distortions.  Another option is to get more opinions from many people.  I applaud that idea but that data is also flawed and subject to the same kind of systematic biases.

SSB:  Given all the challenges we’ve talked about, is there a way to have objective and fair appraisals?

Blog image_3JS: Including more opinions than just the boss’s help.  It helps to have multiple sources of objective data, but even all that put together is an incomplete picture but better than a subjective opinion.  The problem is when we think the key thing is to do annual ratings well.  I don’t think that’s the key thing.

High-performing organizations realize that the key thing is realizing what’s happening day in and day out.  It’s the informal conversations and ongoing feedback that are important.  We know when you recognize people for doing good work they do more of it. 
Studies show that when we set challenging goals and people accept those goals, and we give them feedback along the way, and we praise them when they attain those goals- those things engage people, and we get higher levels of performance.  These are the things we should be focusing on.  These are very well-established psychological principles that have been around for a very long time.

Blog image_4The trick is to quit asking the question “how do we make better ratings?”  Accept that we can only do so much, there will always be a problem.  Whether or not you have an overall rating probably ought to depend on the culture of the organization and the goals of the organization.   What’s most important is to deemphasize the appraisal and emphasize what happens every single day. A performance appraisal is an annual event.  It happens once, and it’s a 30-minute conversation.  What about the 51 weeks of the year?  That’s where you are driving behavior.  This is where things like trust in the company, justice, and other things become important.  How many people get up every day and think: this is my rating?  How am I going to react today?  People want to feel their work made a difference and are energized when they get praises and positive feedback.  Why wait to do that only once a year?

Hopefully, this provides greater clarity on the issue.  See the seven-part list summarizing the guidance. The biggest challenge is not with performance ratings (although there’s room to make them more accurate), it’s the missing focus on the ongoing development and keeping employees motivated.  Dr. Smither also talked about the importance of trust and justice to get the full benefit of performance management.  There’s plenty of well-researched evidence-based guidance available on this topic.  We cover these and provide a comprehensive guide in our course on Performance Management.  Follow this link to learn more

Dr. Jim Smither is the Chair and Professor of Management and Leadership at La Salle University.  Previously, Jim was a Senior Manager/Group Leader in corporate human resources for AT&T where he was responsible for developing and validating employee selection programs for management-level positions.  He is currently a Consulting Editor at the Journal of Applied Psychology. He has edited two books (published by Jossey-Bass) that present research/evidence-based best practices in performance management.  He has consulted with over 55 firms in human resources and leadership development.

​Seven practices to boost the power of your performance management process

  1. Focus on performance management and not performance appraisal.
  2. Make it an on-going process and not an annual event. 
  3. Use annual ratings only if you have a competitive, reward-based culture.
  4. Use multiple raters and objective data to increase the accuracy of the annual ratings.  However, don’t expect them to be perfect. 
  5. Set goals that employees accept and provide on-going feedback. 
  6. Recognize and praise good performance and do it often. 
  7. Focus on improving trust and perceived justice between employees, their managers, and the organization. 
Why I Care About Evidence-Based Practice

Why I Care About Evidence-Based Practice

Ten years in business is a long time.  Only a third of small companies make it this far which makes me feel privileged and fortunate.  While I am thankful, I continue to be restless because there is so much more that needs to be done to achieve our mission of spreading evidence-based practice in people management.  Many have asked, why I feel so strongly about this cause.  I certainly do, and every time our journey gets difficult I find myself becoming even more resolved to push harder. In this blog, I take the opportunity to explain how I came to have this firm belief. Perhaps, you have had similar experiences and may become equally passionate about evidence-based practice.

Early experiences: I grew up in a small industrial town in southern India called Shahabad. My dad worked in a mid-management sales role for the only employer in town, ACC Babcook Limited (ABL), an engineering firm that manufactured machinery for cement plants.  Although small, the city was unique in many ways. It was a planned community, pristinely clean with manicured gardens and streets canopied with laburnum trees. Most people believed it was a paradise and left only when it was time to retire. It was the only place I had lived since my birth. As a teenager, Blog image_1I nurtured dreams of going away to college but coming back in the summers to be with my family and friends. Sadly, things were not going so well for the company.  Employees stopped receiving their salaries. I saw first-hand the impact of poor leadership, lack of accountability and the resulting impact on a small town.  With no other options for making a living, people started committing suicide, theft, and crime increased.  What was once a paradise was no longer so. While things were falling apart for the average employee, the leaders seemed to be doing fine, still taking foreign trips with their families, presumably on the company’s dime.  It just did not seem fair.  It was during this time that I learned about the field of Organizational Psychology.  In a women’s magazine, I read how the Tata Group used practices such as testing to bring fairness in the hiring process.  I learned that a US-trained Organizational Psychologist was leading this work. At that moment it hit me that the world would be a better place if there were more fairness and people believed in doing the right thing. At that early age, I had discovered my professional interest.

Becoming an organizational psychologist: My journey to becoming an organizational Psychologist was long and hard.  With no financial means to fund my education in the US, I could only hope for a miracle.  I started working when I was fifteen, hoping to make enough money to pay for the GRE.  My professors and everybody I knew discouraged me from aspiring to study psychology outside of India.  Their rationale was not that unreasonable.  India was known for engineering talent but not psychologists.  Why would anyone want me? I wasn’t Blog image_2quite willing to give up on my dreams, but I did put a plan B in place for safe measures. I applied to several graduate schools in the US and also to a couple of entry-level roles in India.  As it turned out, I was one of the successful job candidates’ at Tata Motors, but they would not offer me the job because the other finalist had a family member employed by the company. I had started to receive rejection letters from graduate schools. Weeks went by when I felt hopeless. And then a letter came in the mail from the University of Central Florida.  It said I had secured admission to their masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program with funding.   I remember reading the mail several times to make sure. My dreams were finally going to come true.  I learned another important lesson, meritocracy wins, at least in some parts of the world. My family history, financial means, and connections didn’t matter.  Someone has made a judgment about my capacity using my past performance (e.g., GPA, GRE scores, personal essay) and it was about to change my life.

Graduate school and early career: Coming to the US changed my life. While I had all the motivation and interest, there were things I had never done before like conducting research, presenting, writing reports. I was uncertain about doing well but got plenty of support, feedback, and encouragement – all things lacking inBlog image_4 my prior education experience. I found myself getting better every day.  I was stretched, challenged and most of all led to believe I had what it takes to be successful.  After graduating with a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Bowling Green State University (one of the top-ranked programs in I-O Psychology), doors opened up to a tenure-track assistant professor position at the well-known Illinois Institute of Technology. The attraction of solving real-world problems led me to leave academia for one of the best corporate roles I could hope for. Yet again, no personal connections, after multiple rounds of interviews I was deemed to have the capability to build all the human capital systems for Dendrite International (now IMS Health).  My reflections led me to conclude that if our development and support systems were based on what works (evidence-based), each of us can have a fair chance of reaching our highest potential.​

Mid-career and doors shutting on me: Life eventually brought me to the west coast, the center of innovation and the epitome of an accepting, free-thinking society. Sadly, that was not my experience. In all my years in the US before that, everyone and everything around me signaled “you can do it.” At work Blog image_4on the west coast, I became “that women” with no name. My voice became invisible, and the work I thought I was hired to do was taken over by consultants and friends of the boss.  When I volunteered to do more, I was told: “no you can’t.” If that weren’t all, the vendors and consultants who ran the show could make bold and baseless statements and be applauded. When I made recommendations for practices for which there was plenty of evidence they were seen as risky and threatening. While it hurt not to be valued for the expertise I had worked so hard to develop, it angered me even more than the organization and its employees were being denied the opportunity for achieving better outcomes.  My journey through these challenging times put a spotlight on the significance of the evidence-based practice. It became abundantly clear that fairness and accuracy in the decisions we make about people should be a business priority. Further, organizations that lean on science for answers derive better outcomes for themselves, for their employees, and for society.  This lead to the launch of Human Capital Growth in 2008.  In 2010 we adopted the tagline Excellence through the evidence to further solidify our foundation.​ I look forward to the next decade and beyond in helping business and people thrive together.​ ​ ​Thankful for the employees of HCG, our clients, and our supporters! Because of you, I continue to believe that the workplace will one day be a place of joy where each of us can pursue our passions and create a world with a little less misery and a whole lot of wonder.

The Future of Talent Analytics

The Future of Talent Analytics

​In the future, we will see talent analytics efforts pivot in three important ways: (a) mature from lending administration support to augmenting performance, (b) transition from describing the past to providing future-focused insights, (c) evolve managerial decision making about people from intuition-led, to one that is more objective and fact-based.

According to a 2013 CEB survey, only 18% of business leaders say they trust their talent data. A staggering 82% don’t believe their talent analytics focus on the right issues, and only 15% of HR leaders say they have made a business decision based on insights gleaned from HR analytics. Not much has changed in 2018 according to a survey conducted by consulting firms, DDI, The Conference Board, and Ernst and Young. Yet, investment in talent analytics globally is upwards of 600 million dollars.  How can organizations derive greater value from their people analytics practice?

Blog image_1​In this article, I present the thesis that organizations that avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with talent analytics, adopt an evidence-based focus, and deliver personalized insights will be better positioned to fulfill the promise that the practice has to offer. If done right, it can offer a significant competitive advantage to organizations.  Imagine a learning plan that is automatically created based on the future skill needs and aspirations of an employee.  How about the intelligent identification of rotational opportunities to grow your future leaders. Imagine automatic rescheduling of tasks for optimal time utilization, and intelligent calendar management to promote work-life balance. The possibilities are tremendous, and the journey for most organizations has just begun.


​Talent analytics is a mechanism to uncover insights from people and business data that might otherwise be invisible through pure observations. To be of utility, these insights must align with the critical priorities of the organization.  Better still, they must not just describe the current state but provide a forward-looking view of what’s to come.  This is the value of predictive and prescriptive analytics. A review of HR practices shows that the vast majority of the people operations such as hiring, development, and performance management have primarily been intuition-led.  This is likely the reason why HR has struggled to earn the credibility of our counterparts in manufacturing, finance, or marketing, who have a long history of data-based decision making.  HR has an equal or better opportunity to be analytics-led.  Ultimately, all HR activities generate data about people – attendance, absence, time spent to more abstract concepts like trust, leadership, and influence. In fact, we have 150 years of quantified science supplying a deep understanding of human behavior in the workplace. However, there has been a limited adoption of this knowledge and understanding. Below I elaborate on some of the most limiting challenges that organizations must overcome.

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    1. Many organizations rely on a centralized analytics function. Given the scarcity of qualified data science expertise, this may seem like a prudent choice. However, such an organizational design has many limitations. To conduct timely and meaningful analytics, it is important to spot and capture opportunities, such that they can be viewed from an analytical perspective. It is also beneficial to combine analytics with experimentation. Organizations that have a centralized analytics function tend to engage these teams when there is data available to be analyzed.  This is often too late.  It offers fewer opportunities to influence the program design and data collection plan. As a result, the analytics are more descriptive than predictive.
    2. The second challenge relates to over-reliance on past company data.  For example, organizations spend countless hours mining their employee engagement survey to understand the drivers of Blog image_3engagement.  In one such exercise, the data scientists found that of all the practices that were evaluated in their survey, only one had a strong association with employee turnover. In particular, the analyses revealed that those employees who took their vacation days were less likely to exit the organization than those who saved their leave.  Based on this finding, the company determined that managers must encourage employees to take all their vacation days within a calendar year.  One challenge with this approach could be a false cause-effect attribution.  It is possible that those who are saving their vacation days are already planning to leave the organization and perhaps are hoping to catch them out. A better approach would be to look at the predictors of turnover, and select interventions that have a higher probability of delivering the desired outcome. In the case of turnover, a combination of five elements has repeatedly been found in empirical studies to be among the most efficacious predictors.  The five factors include satisfaction with pay, promotion, manager, coworker, and the work itself. Basing interventions on prior evidence and designing experiments to find the best solution may be a better use of the analytics functions. The practice of conducting AB testing in marketing leverages a similar idea of experimentation.
    3. The third challenge pertains to the assumption that to perform impactful analytics one requires big data.  This is a fallacy and one plaguing not just HR but the broader business world. With increasing digitization, data velocity and variety is no longer a challenge.  A learning management system can generate 1000 data points per user with just 10 minutes of interactions.  Even when big data is available, the challenge is in finding the signal in the noise. That is, making sense of the data in a way that each stakeholder can take meaningful action. Additionally, to do useful talent analytics, organizations need more than just data (information residing in various systems which can be counted).  They must invest in capturing abstract constructs in a quantitative format. These are called measures.  A measure provides ruler-like properties to the abstract phenomenon (e.g., risk, trust, leadership, making them amenable to sophisticated analyses. For example, in a learning platform, it is easy to capture transactional data about time spent, and activities attempted, but these may not predict learning and skill development. To measure skill one must measure concepts such as knowledge structures and self-efficacy.


​To overcome some of these challenges, it is essential to evaluate the organizational structure and tighten the integration between the talent analytics team and the HR function. Secondly, the organization must invest in developing specialized talent analytics skills that go beyond statistics, data science, and softwareBlog image_4 programming.  Talent analytics team members must have a sound understanding of the science of human performance and evidence-based methods.  They must also have expertise in specialized statistical techniques relevant for measuring and analyzing people’s data such as scaling and hierarchical linear modeling.

​As we look to the future, I see talent analytics efforts pivot in three crucial ways, (a) maturing from lending administration support to augmentation performance through predictive insights, (b) evolving from describing the past to providing future-focused insights, (c) evolving managerial decision making about people from intuition-led, to one that is more objective and fact-based. Next, I elaborate on each of these points.

​Historically, talent analytics have been used to support administrative decisions, for instance, demonstrating program impact and summarizing workforce characteristics (e.g., gender distribution, salary ranges), all primarily designed to support administrative decision-making.  In the future, we will see greater use of analytics to augment employee performance.  The language editing tool, Grammarly, is one such example.  It reviews writing habits andBlog image_5 provides real-time grammar suggestions and learning tips. Imagine similar tools that help a manager prepare for a motivating performance review meeting, or prepare to negotiate with a difficult client. The potential for such methods in unlocking productivity is remarkable. To provide personalized performance support, the analytics must not just focus on the past data but reliably predict what one is likely to do.  This is the benefit of prescriptive analytics which enables one to find the best option across multiple future states. Prediction and prescription are some of the key reasons why focus on measures, and evidence-based science is important. The net result of using analytics that provides performance support and presents a forward-looking view is in creating an equal playing ground where the best can rise to the top.  I am personally most excited about the potential of talent analytics in creating fair and equitable workplaces, where meritocracy can thrive.

In conclusion, I see talent analytics as the third eye and the sixth sense.  It can help you see what’s not readily visible, enable better sensing, and power your abilities with greater intelligence. Finally, I leave you with this question, if this future state were to come true, how would your life be different?

Do Women and Men Differ on Work Related Abilities?

Do Women and Men Differ on Work Related Abilities?

Former Google employee, James Damore’s leaked memo has sparked a heated debate on the topic of diversity in the tech industry, particularly as it relates to women’s capacity for STEM careers. Many leaders are facing similar discussions in their own organizations and finding themselves untangling the various perspectives presented in the media. In this blog, my goal is to review the available scientific evidence on gender differences as it relates to STEM careers. Following this I will share recommendations for organizations looking to promote gender diversity.
The Chasm
There are three broad camps represented in this vigorous debate. The “biology” camp argues that men and women are biologically different with few social influences causing these variations. The “abilities” camp views women as lacking in abilities and interests that are required for careers in science and engineering.  The “societal influence” camp argues that rather than abilities, it’s the societal conditions that thwart women’s interests in STEM careers.  Each of these perspectives has received research attention making it possible to evaluate the arguments more objectively.

The Science
First, here’s a brief overview of the key perspectives on the root causes for gender differences. For each I highlight where the science supports and refutes specific claims.
Evolutionary theory: Proponents of an evolutionary approach suggest that selection leads to different adaptive behaviors in men and women.  They argue that thousands of years of biological programming explain why women have greater responsibilities in childbearing and rearing.   They suggest that men, on the other hand, evolved to ensure the physical survival of their mates and off-springs. As a result, their adaptive responses are geared toward survival and protection. Thus far, the science suggests only mixed support for this view.
Social-Cognitive learning theory: Originally proposed by Stanford’s Albert Bandura, this theory suggests that adults and children learn acceptable behaviors through ongoing reinforcements and punishments, both directly and by observing others. As social beings, humans are programmed to imitate others, particularly those in power.  By observing the action of powerful others, they learn to engage in socially desirable behaviors. This brings positive affirmation from others leading to increased confidence in oneself (self-efficacy). In the case of gender differences, there are culturally acceptable behaviors for males and females.  These are learned early in life by observing others and regulating one’s own behaviors to be more in line with acceptable norms.  The science for Social-Cognitive theory is very strong and supports the idea that traditional gender norms and social processes conspire to account for some of the gender disparity in traditionally male jobs.
Sociocultural theory: According to this theory psychological gender differences are the result of societal segregation of labor by gender. Historically, biological differences between men and women resulted in men doing work requiring strength and women being predominantly focused on home and family care. Studies on vocational interests show sizeable gender differences. Men tend to be more interested in things, and women more in people and relationships. These interests influence the career choices made by each gender. Men and women also pursue different career goals. Men favor opportunities that bring status, and success and allow for competition. Women favor opportunities that require working with people, caring for others, and attending to others’ needs.
Expectancy-value theory: This theory explains a person’s decision to pursue a challenging task. According to the theory, people pursue tasks they expect to succeed in (expectancies) and are aligned with their interest and perceived utility in achieving their goals (value). This theory has received considerable empirical support in explaining gender differences in the pursuit of activities that may be outside of the community’s stereotype for gender roles.

While these major theories help us organize our thinking about gender differences, what does the science say about specific capabilities of each gender?  Are they really substantially different, and if so are they the result of biological differences or influenced by socialization?
Verbal skills
Meta-analytic studies of US data show that boys and girls are very similar in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and essay writing. Girls score slightly better in verbal fluency. One large cross-national study found larger gender differences, also favoring girls. [4]  In general, experts are in agreement that gender differences in verbal skills are small or negligible.
Boys and girls are generally found to be similar in academic skills. Recent studies show some exceptions to this finding. A 2015 study investigating achievement in standardized tests found that girls in the United States scored substantially higher than boys in spelling and written expression. [6] This was true across all age groups. While the reason for these differences was not systematically studied, the investigators suggest it may be due to gender differences in processing speed (girls tend to be faster on simple cognitive tasks) and better self-regulatory skills which are important for improving writing quality.
Recent studies comparing math scores of boys and girls in the United States show no meaningful gender difference. It is interesting to note that gender differences were slightly in favor of boys in studies conducted in the nineties and the score difference was much greater for complex problem-solving. More recent data collected within the last decade shows the gap in complex problem solving has narrowed significantly and the differences are negligible. This provides some support for the changing societal expectation for gender-appropriate interests. [4]

Cross-national studies of math performance show gender similarities in most countries, however, in some countries the difference is greater. The sociocultural difference may account for these variations. Gender differences in math are highly correlated to factors such as a number of women in research roles at the country level, enrollment of girls in school, and also representation of women in parliamentary positions. [2]
Attitude toward math: Interestingly, even though there were gender similarities in math achievement, boys and girls varied significantly in their attitudes toward math. Boys, in general, showed greater confidence in their math abilities and also greater intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to do well. [2] Experts attribute these differences to girls having a greater need to please and seek the approval of adults.  As a result, they feel they are not meeting the standards set for them and feel less confident about their own performance.

Spatial skills
While men and women score similarly in verbal and math skills, women tend to have lower spatial skills.  This specifically refers to skills in mentally rotating objects which is important for success in many engineering disciplines.[4] On a positive note, studies show that training can lead to significant improvements in this skill for men and women. There is also evidence that playing video games can improve spatial skills.

Studies based on the big five frameworks show that men and women score similarly on consciousness, one of the biggest personality-based predictors of job performance. [3] Men score slightly higher on assertiveness. Women tend to be more anxiety-prone and are significantly more agreeable, particularly in aspects related to nurturing. However, these differences were largest in the US data but not supported in data from other parts of the world. For example, Black South African women scored similarly to men on anxiety proneness and agreeableness. The current understanding of gender differences in personality is mixed. [4]

Interests and Vocational preferences
In studies looking at work-related interests, the studies have found sizable gender differences. In particular, men prefer working with things, and women prefer working with people. Even when women select STEM careers, they tend to prefer occupations that offer more options for interaction with people, such as in biological science, medicine, Psychology, and Social Sciences. [7]

Women tend to endorse communal goals more than men, which drives them to select careers that are more helping and altruism-focused. In general, men tend to endorse agentic goals.  This causes them to favor careers where they can acquire power, achieve, and compete. The pursuit of agentic goals is also associated with an interest in STEM careers.  The pursuit of communal goals is associated with careers preferred by women such as nursing, kindergarten teacher, human resources, and education. Such differences in preferences are cited as reasons why women don’t prefer STEM careers.  In support of this claim, there is some evidence showing that women opt out of STEM careers more often than men. [1]

What Does it all Mean?
These findings are often cited as the main reasons why women are underrepresented in STEM careers. However, it is important to note that vocational interests can be influenced by parental expectations and societal values. Additionally, interests tend to stabilize toward the end of high school and peak in college. To close gender differences in STEM careers, efforts must begin early when children start to understand role expectations. Furthermore, it is insufficient to focus attention on recruiting more women in the workplace. Such efforts must be coupled with job design efforts where STEM careers are designed to appeal to both, those driven by the pursuit of agentic goals (e.g., promoting speed and profitability) versus those who prefer communal goals (e.g., betterment of others).

Based on current scientific understanding, it is clear that the capability differences between men and women are complex and do not favor any particular gender.  At the same time, there is evidence pointing to the importance of nature and nurture in shaping vocational preferences and job interests. For organizations looking to create gender parity, an exploration of the difference between men and women is less useful.  It may be more fruitful to explore why women are less likely to choose, pursue, and stay in STEM careers. Similarly, it is worth investigating why men are less likely to work in more female-centric careers such as nursing and education. Addressing these challenges is advantageous to both business and society. About 57% of recent graduates with a bachelor’s degree are women, accounting for a large portion of the incoming workforce. Organizations that aspire to gain a competitive advantage in a tight labor market can stand to gain by attracting a diverse candidate pool. When more women are employed in higher-paying roles, it proves advantageous to the economy and society.

According to the most recent National Science Foundation (NSF) statistics, female enrollment in STEM bachelor’s programs is failing. In the US, enrollment of women in undergraduate Computer Science programs fell from 25% in 2004 to 18% in 2014. A similar decline was observed in Math and Statistics programs where women enrollments dropped from 46% in 2004 to 42% in 2014. This decline is rather puzzling given the increase in gender parity in math scores.  Sociocultural factors may be a key factor in explaining this decline. In the NSF survey, women select “family” as the most frequent reason for not working.  This was closely followed by “job not available” as a leading reason. What these responses suggest is that women continue to bear the primary responsibility for child-rearing and eldercare.  Another cause may be that women are more likely to be paid less than their husbands leading to fewer economic benefits for the family. In fact, the 2015 US Census Bureau statistics show that women made 21% less than their male counterparts. Furthermore, women tend to be over-represented in jobs with lower median incomes. All these factors likely contribute to women deprioritizing their careers to ensure at least one member has a stable and rewarding career. The lack of female role models in successful positions may be an additional factor influencing women’s career decisions. These arguments reveal a broader set of inter-mingled challenges that go beyond the gender differences debate.. Therefore, single solutions such as attracting more women into STEM careers may only be minimally effective in creating gender parity. What’s required is a multi-pronged approach that addresses some of the systemic root causes leading to gender inequality..

What can Organizations do?
1.  Encourage Men and Women to pursue careers outside of traditional norms (e.g. women in STEM and masonry; men in nursing).  This requires exposure to a wide variety of career options long before people are ready to enter the workforce.

  • To influence career choices at a younger age, organizations can partner with K-12 educational institutions to present more gender-neutral role models, for example, women in STEM careers such as astrophysics and aeronautics.  It is important that boys, girls, and parents are exposed to these opportunities to minimize gender stereotyping.
  • Develop career resources that appeal to broader interests and goals. For example, emphasize how careers in technology support relational goals, as in the importance of teamwork and managing social relationships. Highlight how better technology is required to advance health and well-being as opposed to faster machines and increase revenue.
  • Organizations can also offer to mentor to women after they have begun their STEM education. This will likely ensure increased retention of women in STEM careers, as well as successful completion of their degrees.

​2.  Ensure increased representation of women in candidate pools for STEM careers. This requires long-term investment with academic institutions and affinity groups.  It is also important to design talent acquisition processes that are evidence-based, one that minimizes biases and promotes accurate, fact-based decision-making.

3.  Design jobs such that they are enriched with tasks that are matched with each gender’s preferences. Conduct studies to minimize stereotyping in role requirements (e.g., preference for males, unnecessary physical requirements) or foster conditions that are unwelcome toward women (e.g., the tradition of visiting strip clubs after winning a big deal).

4.    Provide men and women opportunities to advance their capabilities, particularly toward closing gaps, overcoming weaknesses, and opportunity to stretch through challenging assignments.  Many organizations utilize a strengths-based approach to development.  While seeming a good idea, it may inadvertently minimize opportunities for women. This is most likely in situations where women need to address a skills gap that is not their natural strength. Consider, for example, technically skilled women aspiring for a promotion to the management ranks. Assume the higher-level position require demonstrating a competitive spirit, generally a male attribute.  Under a strength-based development strategy, she may never have the opportunity to develop this attribute and remain disadvantaged unless the role requirements are changed.

5.    Finally, create an organizational culture where there is an expectation to be mindful of one’s actions and the impact they may have on others. This is called perspective-taking. Perspective-taking exercises have been found to promote reflection and reduce bias.  Furthermore, it engenders feelings of camaraderie with people of different backgrounds leading to a more inclusive workforce.

There you have it, a summary of the science behind gender differences and their impact on STEM careers.  Hope the recommendations are useful in furthering your organization’s diversity agenda.


  1. Diekman, A. B., Brown, E. R., Johnston, A. M., & Clark, E. K. (2010). Seeking congruity between goals and roles: A new look at why women opt out of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. Psychological Science21(8), 1051-1057.
  2. Else-Quest, N. M., Shibley Hyde, J., & Linn, M. C. (2010). Cross-National Patterns of Gender Differences in Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological bulletin136(1), 103-127.
  3. Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personality: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin116(3), 429.
  4. Hyde, J. S. (2014). Gender similarities and differences. Annual review of psychology65, 373-398.
  5. Lubinski, D. (2000). Scientific and social significance of assessing individual differences:“Sinking shafts at a few critical points”. Annual review of psychology51(1), 405-444.
  6. Reynolds, M. R., Scheiber, C., Hajovsky, D. B., Schwartz, B., & Kaufman, A. S. (2015). Gender differences in academic achievement: is writing an exception to the gender similarities hypothesis?. The Journal of genetic psychology176(4), 211-234.
  7. Su, R., Rounds, J., & Armstrong, P. I. (2009). Men and Things, Women and People: A Meta-Analysis of Sex Differences in Interests. Psychological Bulletin135(6), 859-884.
  8. World Economic Forum. 5 charts that illustrate the current US gender gap. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/04/the-us-gender-gap-in-5-charts
Lessons on Courage and Leadership from the Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize

Lessons on Courage and Leadership from the Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Yousafsai recently received the Nobel Peace Prize at the young age of 19 year for standing up against the Taliban and promoting education of girls and children. What can we learn about corporate leadership from Malala’s approach? In this blog post, HCG President and Founder, Dr. Shreya Sarkar-Barney shares a brief analysis.
This week we saw examples of great leadership recognized with well deserved awards.  Malala Yousafsai, who was shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls, has been outspoken about the right of women and young girls.  Last week she received the Nobel Peace Prize at the young age of 19 year for standing up against the Taliban and promoting education of girls and children.
Despite continued threats to her life, she has eloquently shared the plight of the lesser sex in eminent forums like the UN.   Her efforts have drawn world-wide attention and support.  For someone who grew up in a remote region of Muslim fundamentalist controlled Pakistan, it is remarkable to see such unusual display of courage, fortitude and leadership. What about Malala and her situation enable her to display such extraordinary leadership?  Are there lessons for employees in organizations?

Here’s three lessons on leadership from Malala:

  • When there is a choice to do nothing or speak up against injustice, we need to be able to conceptualize the upside and find the courage to speak up against the wrong doings toward the voiceless.
  • We need to reflect on what we care about the most (our platform) and stand for the rights of others in similar situation, who do not have the right or the freedom.
  • Many incorrectly assume that next steps are clear to those who care.  Incorrect. Create a rallying force for change and have a clear call to action.

Follow these links to listen to Malala’s eloquent speeches

  • Malala’s extraordinary speech to the UN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRh_30C8l6Y
  • Malala’s speech after learning about the receiving the Nobel Peace Prize http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/10/world/europe/nobel-peace-prize/index.html
  • Company Ratings on Social Media Should you Trust Them

    Company Ratings on Social Media Should you Trust Them

    For job prospects, social media sites such as Glassdoor and CareerBliss have become go-to places for company reviews. How much should you trust the company ratings on these sites? Our analysis shows not much. In this blog, HCG research consultant, Izabela Widlak, reveals what she uncovered.

    In the case of concerning reviews about your organization or its practices, investigate the reported problem and its root causes.  While few negative comments in the midst of positive reviews aren’t likely to do much harm, many negative comments may indicate that there is a greater problem that has to be repaired. For example, repeating comments about lack of opportunities for development may indicate that a company should invest more in training, on-the-job developmental opportunities, or mentoring and coaching.  While negative reviews indicate there may be a problem, they are unsubstantiated claims and do not necessarily provide an indication of how widespread the problem is likely to be. Have a qualified talent management practitioner conduct a full-blown assessment. Analyses of this type are especially worthwhile when the organization has challenges with hiring or retaining high-performing employees.  When claims are carefully investigated and addressed, it becomes the best measure to prevent negative feedback in the future, as well as increase organizational effectiveness. One option is to openly share on the company’s career site how the company is addressing concerns highlighted by ex-employees. More often than note candidates will appreciate the transparency believe the company is trustworthy.

    In the quest to learn from bad reviews, don’t forget to learn from the positive ones. Affirmative or unexpected positive reviews can be flattering, but more importantly, they may allow the organization to learn about its strengths and about the aspects of the employment brand that have been valued by employees.  Again, communicate this on your careers site.

    Good and Bad Reviews are Indicative of Issues Needing Attention

    Recent work in developing our Talent Acquisition course led me to research how companies manage their social media presence.  What I uncovered was shocking but sadly true.  Sites such as Glassdoor, CareerBliss, and Salary.com, provide employees and ex-employees an online venue to publicly vent about their employer. With just the click of a mouse job prospects and employees can gain access to a plethora of information including salary ranges, interview questions, and insider information on what it’s like to work for the organization. Unlike in our parent’s generation, a job candidate can simply avoid bad employers by paying attention to these ratings.  So how accurate are such social media reviews and ratings?  Let’s find out.

    While researching how companies manage publicly available information that might affect their image as a great place to work, I was in for a surprise.  My research led me to reports by former employees complaining about their well-written negative reviews being taken off Glassdoor.  Some even reported seeing an influx of positive reviews and ratings within a short period of time which immediately increased the overall rating.  My curiosity intensified, as I dug a little further I learned about companies in the business of so-called “reputation management”.  They claim they can help find loopholes on these social media sites and can remove or minimize the impact of potentially damaging information.  I also read about a case where a large retailer encouraged its employees to share positive stories about the organization on Glassdoor.  This apparently backfired and is speculated to have instead led to a flooding of negative stories.

    As Industrial-Organizational psychologists we are concerned both with the effectiveness of practices organizations pursue and their effects on employees. Our analysis shows organizations stand to lose more than gain by manipulating their online ratings.  Potential job candidates are best served when they have honest and truthful information about the job and the company before they accept a job offer.  This ensures that candidates accept offers based on fit, which ultimately contributes to greater engagement, higher retention, and better financial outcomes for the organization.  Based on this perspective, it is hard to imagine why organizations might pursue any of the practices described above.  To help organizations manage their employer brands here are some evidence-based recommendations.


    Be Authentic

    Be authentic in how you handle the information that is out there about the company.  Many potential job applicants tend to read the reviews with the grain of salt anyway and they do notice when positive reviews are contradictory to most other reviews. Therefore do not ask current employees to write positive reviews and do not write fake positive reviews to offset the negative feedback.  Such actions are more likely to backfire and do more harm than good.

    Be aware that some job candidates may inquire about the negative reviews during the hiring process.  Therefore, be ready to honestly address questions and explain how the company is managing the issue.   In fact, it is a good practice to allow job candidates an opportunity to ask hiring managers ‘clarifying’ questions.  Studies show that such practices improve perceptions of trustworthiness.

    Invest in Evidence-based Integrated Talent Management Practices

    While some solutions have appealing short-term gains, only evidence-based practices can drive long-term value.  When organizations invest in high-performance work practices, such as the use of formal job analysis, pay for performance, pay for skill acquisition, training, and performance management there are resulting gains in individual performance and financial success of the organization. This in turn makes the organization a good company to work for and is likely to drive favorable online reviews.

    Use Employer Profiles to Manage the Organization’s Online Presence

    Creating an employer brand that is centered around the company’s culture is easier than manipulating online reviews and ratings.  Multiple social networking sites allow doing this for free.  One of the most credible is the professional networking site, LinkedIn, where company news and activities can be shared with active and passive candidate pools.  Additionally, Websites such as Glassdoor allow creating a free employer profile where companies have full control over the information shared. A strong community of employees that lives by the values of the organization can attract other great employees and also customers.

    In conclusion, learning from current reviews, being authentic, investing in high-impact evidence-based practices, and using social media to engage employees, is more likely to create and sustain an excellent employer brand than any other short-term fixes that some companies are apparently resorting to.

    Building a high-performing organization and a great employer brand is an ongoing process and takes time.  However, it is something that organizations need to embrace to realize great benefits.


    1. Breaugh, J. A., & Starke, M. (2000). Research on employee recruitment: So many studies, so many remaining questions.  Journal of Management, 36(3), 405-434.
    2. Cascio, W. F. (2010).  Managing human resources: Productivity, quality of work life, profits (8th ed.).  Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.
    3. Huselid, M. A. (1995).  The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity, and corporate financial performance.  Academy of Management Journal, 38, 635-672.
    4. Takeuchi, R., Lepak, D.P., Wang, H., & Takeuchi, K. (2007).  An Empirical examination of the mechanisms mediation between high-performance work systems and the performance of Japanese organizations.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 1069-1083.