The purpose of this paper is to assess how employees from historically marginalized groups (men and women of color and white women) perceive Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”® (BCWF) in terms of two outcomes that are related to diversity and inclusion: fairness and camaraderie. The authors focus on fairness as a way to measure perceptions of general treatment with respect to demographic characteristics associated with bias and discrimination, and on camaraderie as a way to measure perceptions of the inclusiveness of coworker relationships.
Hierarchical linear regression models are used to analyze survey responses from 620,802 employees in 1,054 companies that applied for the BCWF list between 2006 and 2011 in the USA. The authors compare the perceptions of employees in firms that are selected for the list to those of their demographic counterparts in firms not selected for the list. The authors also compare the perceptions of employees from historically marginalized groups to those of white men within firms that make the list and examine how these differences compare to the same differences within firms that do not make the list.
The findings reveal that the perceptions of men and women of color and white women in companies that make the “best” list are more positive than their demographic counterparts in companies that do not make the list. The authors also find, however, that the perceptions of employees from historically marginalized groups are more negative than those of white men in the “best” workplaces, and these patterns are similar to those in firms that do not make the list. For perceptions of fairness, the differences between employees from historically marginalized groups and white men are smaller in companies that make the list.
The findings are based on average effect sizes across a large number of companies and employees, and the data do not provide insight into the actual organizational processes that are driving employee perceptions. In addition, the employee survey data are self-reported, and may be subject to recall and self-serving biases. Finally, the authors use measures of fairness and camaraderie that have not been rigorously tested in past research.
Managers seeking to improve experiences of fairness and camaraderie should pay particular attention to how race/ethnicity and gender influence these experiences, and how they do so intersectionally. Attending to these differences is particularly important to the extent that experiences of fairness and camaraderie are related to organizational trust, the key metric on which companies are selected for the “best” workplaces list, and a quality of organizational relationships that previous research has found to be positively related to key individual and firm-level outcomes.
The paper provides the first assessment of demographic variation in the outcomes of employees in companies selected for the BCWF. Since selection to this list is based on the presence of trust, the authors’ findings also provide potential insight into how informal organizational processes that are associated with trust, such as leadership behaviors, peer relationships, and workplace norms, are viewed and experienced by men and women of color and white women. Finally, the authors analyze outcomes relating to camaraderie, a construct that has received little attention in the literature.
This research was supported by a Blue Wolf Capital Fellowship from the Fellowship Program at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. The authors would like to thank Joseph Blasi, Emilio Castilla, Amy Lyman, Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, Pam Tolbert, and Steve Vallas for feedback on earlier versions of this paper.
Carberry, E. and Meyers, J. (2017), "Are the “best” better for everyone? Demographic variation in employee perceptions of Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For”", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 647-669. https://doi.org/10.1108/EDI-01-2017-0017Download as .RIS
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