29 Oct 2010  HBS Faculty Research Symposium: 2010

Will I Stay or Will I Go? How Gender and Race Affect Turnover at ‘Up-or-Out’ Organizations

Gender and racial inequalities continue to persist at "up-or-out" knowledge organizations, making it difficult for women and minorities to advance to senior levels, professor Kathleen McGinn says. Key concepts include:

  • Knowledge organizations control a large amount of society's knowledge and resources.
  • Inequalities persist in up-or-out knowledge organizations.
  • Relational demography suggests that a person's retention is affected by his or her seniors and peers.
  • The research confirmed that the presence of seniors matters and peer effects are real.
  • Knowledge organizations must question their structures and practices.

 
Date of Event:May 10, 2010
Speakers:Kathleen McGinn

Gender and racial inequalities continue to persist at "up-or- out" knowledge organizations such as law firms, making it difficult for women and minorities to advance to senior levels. These inequalities reflect the fact that female and minority junior professionals don't see senior professionals in their organization who look like them. To want to stay at a firm, women and minorities need to see other women and minorities in senior positions.

However, ''peer effects'' have the opposite result. When women and minorities have a higher proportion of peers who are similar to them in terms of gender and race, it actually increases their likelihood of exiting an organization.

Bringing about the changes that are necessary to increase retention of women and minorities requires that firms and their leaders carefully examine how their practices and policies affect social cohesion and social comparison.

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