A comparative analysis of hierarchical and numerical representation in organizational diversity perceptions and identity-safety
A significant body of work has demonstrated the importance of diversity and representation in racial and ethnic minority jobseekers’ organizational judgements. While representation is often conceptualized as the general percentage or count of underrepresented minorities (URM) within an organization, a broader definition has been proposed that distinguishes this general or numerical representation from hierarchical representation which considers the placement of those URM employees within an organization. Although the separate effects of these two forms of representation have been evaluated, the present study extends on earlier work by considering the interactive effect. Additionally, the current research considered a potential mechanism to explain the influence of these forms of representation on URM’s organizational judgements. As expected, results showed that an organization depicting more URM employees (high numerical representation) and including Black leadership personnel (hierarchical representation) increased URM’s identity-safety relative to those which had low numerical representation and only White leadership. Moreover, and importantly, both representation effects could be explained indirectly via feelings of anticipated tokenism.