Lack of diversity in leadership: can random selection break the deadlock?

The proportion of women and ethnic minorities in senior management remains indefensibly low. Radical ideas are therefore needed. This paper proposes one. It is to use random selection among a pool of pre-chosen candidates as an HRM tool to increase diversity in middle management positions, one that could promote equity and efficiency. We argue this in two parts. First, selective randomness could ensure greater equality between the sexes and races over time; offer ‘rejection insurance’ to mitigate the psychological effects of selection failure, and encourage women and non-whites to enter tournaments. Second, we focus on efficiency: the standard of candidates going into management is raised; homophily is reduced thus improving the diversity of people and ideas; we provide the first demonstration, using Jensen’s inequality from applied mathematics, that random selection can act to improve organizational efficiency by raising the chance of an extraordinary manager being hired. ‘the chosen one’ factor is lessened;

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