Targeted Recruiting for Diversity: Strategy, Impression Management, Realistic Expectations, and Diversity Climate

By Knouse, Stephen B. | International Journal of Management, December 2009 | Go to article overview
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Targeted Recruiting for Diversity: Strategy, Impression Management, Realistic Expectations, and Diversity Climate


Knouse, Stephen B., International Journal of Management


A review of the literature by Avery and McKay (2006) shows that targeted diversity recruiting is effective when diversity pictorial displays occur, ad messages emphasize valuing diversity, and recruiters are diverse. Moreover, impression management techniques, such as ingratiation (project image of likeability and inclusion) and promotion (project image of competence), can enhance targeted diversity recruiting. This article argues that unrealistic ally high expectations can occur in this type of situation, producing low job satisfaction when confronting diversity climate on the job, and ultimately turnover. This article presents an expanded model of targeted recruiting combining strategy, impression management, realistic expectations, and diversity climate. Several recommendations for implementing the model follow.

An established method of diversity recruiting is targeted recruiting, where the focus is upon locating, identifying, and attracting potential employees (Rynes, 1991), here women and minorities. Moreover, successful recruiting increases the person's fit to the organization (personal values fit organizational values), which in the long run decreases turnover (Ng & Burke, 2005). Targeted locations may be career fairs, churches, community centers or specialized professional organizations (e.g., Hispanic accountants). For example, a survey of state police organizations found the most effective recruiting targeted practices were websites, career fairs, military base visits, college visits, community visits, and mentoring programs (Whetstone, Reed, & Turner, 2006). In this article, I will examine the effectiveness of targeted recruiting in relation to strategy, impression management, realistic expectations, and diversity climate.

Literature on the Effectiveness of Targeted Recruiting

Avery and McKay (2006) reviewed the literature on targeted recruiting for women and minorities. They found that organizations that present pictures of members of underrepresented groups and statements of affirmative action are more attractive to women and minorities; they feel like they will fit into the organization. In short, members of underrepresented groups react favorably to recruiting messages directed at them. Further, women and minorities react positively to recruiters similar to them.

Avery and McKay (2006) believe that impression management theory can enhance these recruiting messages. Essentially, impression management is attempting to control the image an individual presents to others (Schlenker, 1980). In this context, recruiters try to present a positive image of the company to women and minorities. For example, recruiters can use ingratiation - the image that the organization is a friendly and welcoming company valuing diversity - through ads in targeted media presenting diversity policy statements, showing a diverse workforce working together, and using women and minority recruiters. In addition, the organization can practice promotion, where it presents advertising touting how their mentoring program produced successful women and minority managers in the organization. In essence, the organization is showing it is competent at producing diversity results. Further, the organization can use exemplification - performing acts of social responsibility - by sponsoring events important to underrepresented groups.

Realistic Expectations Theory

Although impression management techniques may enhance diversity messages, they may also create a problem once recruits are hired. Realistic expectations theory (also termed Realistic Job Fteview, Wanous, 1992) posits that recruiting messages that are overly positive may produce in recruits unrealistic ally high expectations of success, which turn to job dissatisfaction once they enter the organization and face reality, which ultimately leads to turnover (Breaugh, 1992; Wanous, 1992). Impression management techniques like ingratiation and promotion may then unwittingly create unrealistic ally positive impressions of how diverse and inclusive the company appears to be, which does not match the reality of the organization.

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