How “Neutral” Layoffs Disproportionately Affect Women and Minorities

HBR-LogoIn an effort to be transparent and fair to employees, organizations use formal rules to decide who stays and who goes during layoffs.

But Alexandra Kalev’s analysis shows that because companies rely heavily on position and tenure to make those calls, they wipe out most or all of the gains they’ve made in diversity.

The reason is simple: Companies in cutting mode see the roles that women and minorities tend to have as expendable. For the most part, if they’ve made it into management they’re either junior to midlevel, recently appointed, or working in areas such as human resources, legal departments, and public relations — functions that are beneficial but aren’t usually perceived as core to the business. When women and minorities are in line positions, they often work on small, nonessential product lines that can be jettisoned fairly easily.

To read the entire article by Alexandra Kalev, visit The Harvard Business Review.