Recruitment & Selection
Reducing Discrimination in Selection
Social Dominance OrientationWithin most human societies, there is a social hierarchy in which some groups hold more power than others. Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is a tendency to support the social hierarchy in which some groups hold more social power and some groups hold less power. High SDO is associated with prejudice against low-status groups such as women, blacks, and Latinos. This can be problematic when employees high in SDO are responsible for hiring or promoting within organizations. These individuals may tend to prefer candidates of high-status groups, thus preserving the social hierarchy. Some individuals are higher in Social Dominance Orientation and some people are lower in SDO. People high in SDO are not necessarily members of a high status group. Minorities can also have high SDO. In a hiring context, a minority hiring manager with a high SDO may be just as likely to prefer a candidate from a high status group.
Directives from an AuthorityFortunately, organizations can use Social Dominance Orientation to their advantage. Because individuals high in SDO strongly support the social hierarchy, they tend to stringently follow directives from supervisors. Recent research has shown that explicit instructions from an authority figure to focus on job qualifications during selection can mitigate high SDO employees’ failure to select qualified minority applicants.
Practical AdviceFailure to select a candidate based on his or her social status can potentially result in a number of undesirable outcomes for an organization. Some of these include the loss of a high-performing employee, absence of diversity within the organization, and possibly even legal issues resulting from discriminatory hiring practices. However, because individuals high in SDO tend to follow directives from supervisors, organizations can take action to reduce the probability of these outcomes. Some of these include:
- Develop a list of specific job requirements for each position.
- Ensure that employees responsible for hiring and promotion understand the qualifications for each job.
- Implement written policies that support these initiatives and communicate these policies to employees.
The DeGarmo GroupThis was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Umphress, E. E., Simmons, A.L., Boswell, W. R., & Triana, M. (2008). Managing discrimination in selection: The influence of directives from an authority and social dominance orientation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(5), 982-993.