Job seekers like companies that say Black Lives Matter

Activist Tanya James carries a bullhorn adorned with a Black Lives Matter sticker outside the Hennepin County Government Center on December 23, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Prospective employees are drawn to businesses that publicly declare support for the Black community after events like the murder of George Floyd and other serious incidents, research finds.

Those businesses also have bigger bottom lines, according to the research.

The research appears in the journal Human Resource Management. It examines what happens to businesses that offer public declarations of support for the Black community after race-related “mega-threats“—defined as negative, large-scale, diversity-related incidents that receive significant media attention.

“It’s critical that organizations are authentic in their stances on societal issues and not just ‘talking the talk.'”

The research was conducted in three parts, surveying people in many different age and ethnic groups. In the first study, prospective employees evaluated a business—Ben and Jerry’s—that publicly supported the Black community following these mega-threats. The researchers found that prospective employees viewed these statements of support as a signal that the company valued diversity and inclusion. Those prospective employees also expressed a greater desire to work for Ben and Jerry’s.

The second study described a fictitious organization that responded to race-related mega-threats by publicly stating their support for Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, or no movement at all. Prospective employees perceived higher levels of support for diversity and inclusion when the organization issued a statement supporting Black Lives Matter, which was also associated with a greater desire to work for the business.

Finally, the third study examined how institutional support for diversity and inclusion affects a company’s bottom line. Companies whose employees perceived higher levels of support for diversity and inclusion (which was assessed using ratings that current and former employees submitted to also reported higher revenue than businesses whose employees did not feel that way.

Mikki Hebl, chair of psychology at Rice University and one of the study’s coauthors, says the findings underscore the power that can lie in organizations’ public expressions of solidarity with marginalized communities, but warned that public statements “are just the first step.”

“By investing in the well-being of their employees and employees’ communities, organizations can play a really important role in moving society closer to a world where everyone can thrive, tragic race-based incidents are few and far between, and the issues that make these statements necessary—including systemic violence, inequality, and lack of organizational support for marginalized employees—are no longer a reality,” she says.

Abby Corrington, an assistant professor of management at Providence College, was the study’s lead author and emphasizes the increased attention that both consumers and employees are paying to businesses’ activism related to things like social justice and climate change.

“It’s critical that organizations are authentic in their stances on societal issues and not just ‘talking the talk,'” she says. “People expect to see action—follow-through on commitments, investment in marginalized communities, and ongoing engagement.”

Coauthors are from Providence College and Rice.

Source: Rice University