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In the last decade, in spite of increasing level of competition, organizations can differ from others by benefiting from diversity, and add value with a successful implementation of diversity management, which results in an improvement in an organization's performance. Especially, as Pels (2012) highlights in her study, women take a crucial part in maximizing the advantages of diversity. Instead of the common advantages of well-managed diversity; increasing the success of renovating the workplace, and helping to develop other forms of diversity are some of the various benefits of having gender diversity in senior positions (Levin and Mattis, 2006).
However, over the last decade, the lack of gender diversity on the UK`s organizations` senior levels, has been the subject of many studies and debates (Doldor et al., 2012). Additionally, The Davies Report (2011) emphasizes that a crucial level of market growth among European organizations is expected to appear where the gender diversity in senior positions is higher. Nevertheless, according to results of the academic analysis of UK`s private and public sectors organizations, the largely proportion of the senior level positions are held by white, able-bodied men in business and in the public sector in the UK (Gatvell and Swan, 2008). Moreover, as stated by "The Female FTSE Board Report 2012", in 2012, the percentage of women executives of FTSE 100 Boards were only 15%; and the percentage of women executives of FTSE 250 Boards were only 9.8 in the UK (Sealy and Vinnicombe, 2012). The main dimensions identifying with the business case of gender diversity in senior positions are increasing performance; reaching the widest pool of talent; becoming more responsive to the market; and obtaining better corporate governance (Doldor et al., 2012; Sealy et al., 2011). On the other hand, in spite of the legal reforms and social changes, due to occupational segregation, inequality and the traditional organisation of work and domestic life, number of women in the senior positions in the organisations still remains low (Ozbilgin, and Tatli 2006).
Corresponding with the subject of gender diversity, Lord Davies (2011) made ten recommendations in his report, about the ways of increasing the number of women on senor positions. In his 8th recommendation, Lord Davies (2011) suggests that "Executive search firms should draw up a Voluntary Code of Conduct addressing gender diversity and best practice with covers the relevant search criteria and processes relating to FTSE 350 board level appointments.". As Lord Davies (2011) and several other academicians emphasize recruitment agencies are playing a fundamental role on promoting gender diversity in senior position (Doldor et al., 2012; Ongori and Angolla, 2007; Ozbilgin, and Tatli, 2006; Sealy, and Vinnicombe, 2012; Pels, 2012). Because of their important role matching of labour market supply and demand, private sector recruitment agencies have taken significant part in promoting comprehensive labour market. Moreover, the role of private sector recruitment agencies in the UK is more consequential than the similar companies in the other European Union countries (Industrial Relation Services (IRS), 2002). Additionally, Hotopp (2001) and Ward (2002) present that the first foreign market that the biggest US temporary private recruitment agencies have entered is the UK and they add that the recruitment industry in UK is growing fast.
By recruiting 4 per cent of the working population in the UK (Druker and Stanworth, 2000; Heery, 2004; MilLward et al., 2000), and also advising and guiding their client during and after the recruitment process, private recruitment agencies have a significant role in promoting gender diversity in senior positions.
In spite of the increasing importance of the private recruitment agencies, there is still a little research on their role of and current attitudes toward promoting gender diversity in senior levels. Since their growing part in UK`s job placement, and also effects and influence on their clients, it can be significant to understand the recent attitudes of private recruitment agencies toward promoting gender diversity in senior positions.
1.2 Value and contribution
This research focuses on the private recruitment agencies attitudes toward and effects on promoting gender diversity. The value and contribution offered is that it identifies UK`s private recruitment agencies`, attitudes toward, and effects on promoting gender diversity in senior positions.
â€¢ In terms of academic value, creating a better understanding about the relationship between private recruitment agencies and gender diversity is intended by the author.
â€¢ Additionally, presenting some recommendations for practitioners in the private recruitment sector which will help to promote gender diversity in senior positions is intended by the author.
1.3 Aim and objectives
The purpose of this dissertation is to identify current attitudes of recruitment agencies toward gender diversity and their effects on promoting gender diversity.
In the literature there are some studies which are about operations of recruitment agencies; there are also some research on gender diversity. However there is a little research which both deals with gender diversity and recruitment agencies. This vacuum has helped to form the dissertation's objectives. Since, executive search companies take active and significant role in advising and guiding their clients; this study is aiming to succeed its goal with collecting primary data from executive search consultants.
The objectives of this research are:
1- To identify how recruitment agencies promote gender diversity in senior positions
2- To identify what are the barriers and limitations that recruitment agencies experience when they try to promote gender diversity
3- To identify if the recruitment companies resist to gender diversity or not
1.4 Research approach
According to its research approach this dissertation is a qualitative research. The aims and objective of this dissertation, which are mainly related to the effects of executive search agencies on promoting gender diversity in senior positions, have shape the choice of this research approach.
Mark states that, understanding the beliefs and attitudes of people`s, and as a result organization`s, is the main objective of a qualitative search method. Moreover, Creswell (2003) adds that qualitative methods can be seen as the best way of analysing subjects thoroughly. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with executive search consultants (head-hunters) who work in The UK, to identify the relationship between recruitment agencies and gender diversity.
1.5 Dissertation structure
Chapter 1 Introduction: In the introduction, firstly the background of gender diversity and private recruitment agencies are presented. Then it explains the aim and objectives of this research as well as the value and contribution and significance. It also shows the choice of research approach and finally, dissertation structure.
Chapter 2 Literature Review: This chapter reviews the previous relevant literature on the subject which is consisted of two main topics; recruitment agencies, and gender diversity. The literature which is about the recent situation of recruitment agencies in the UK, and the business process, activities and roles of the recruitment companies have been briefly discussed in the first part of the literature review. Secondly, definitions of gender, diversity, and gender diversity, benefits of gender diversity and initiatives to promote gender diversity which take part in literature have been reviewed.
Chapter 3 Methodology: The research methods and research design of this dissertation is presented in this chapter. The details of primary and secondary data collection process and data analysing techniques and research gaps have been included at the end of this chapter.
Chapter 4 Findings & Discussion: In this chapter findings from interviews have been presented. Results are categorized according to the objectives. At the end of each result, discussions have conducted with relevant literature.
Chapter 5 Conclusion & Recommendation: In this final chapter, the brief conclusion of the finding of this dissertation has been presented. Moreover, some limitations of this dissertations and recommendations for the future research have been indicated at the end of this chapter.
CHAPTER2: LITERATURE REVIEW
As a secondary data collection, literature review has been conducted and the findings of the review have been presented in this chapter. In accordance with the aims and objectives of this study, existing relevant literature have been analysed and data about gender diversity and recruitment agencies has been presented.
This chapter is divided into two main subjects; recruitment agencies; and gender diversity. The literature which is about the recent situation of recruitment agencies in the UK, and the business process, activities and roles of the recruitment companies have been briefly discussed in the first part of the literature review. Secondly, definitions of gender, diversity, and gender diversity, benefits of gender diversity which take part in literature have been reviewed.
2.2 Recruitment Agencies
According to Ozbilgin and Tatli (2006) in spite of the legal reforms and social changes, due to occupational segregation, inequality and the traditional organisation of work and domestic life, number of women executives in the organisations still remains low. Because of their important role matching of labour market supply and demand, private sector recruitment agencies have taken significant part in promoting comprehensive labour market. Moreover, the role of private sector recruitment agencies in the UK is more consequential than the similar companies in the other European Union countries (Industrial Relation Services (IRS), 2002). The results of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) `s "Annual Industry Turnover and Key Volumes Survey" (2008) show that there are more than 100.000 people who work in UK private recruitment agencies and there is a continual rise in the number of employees in the sector. According to the REC`s 2010 Media Pack Report, in the UK, recruitment industry worth £26.6 billion. Moreover, Hotopp (2001) and Ward (2002) present that the first foreign market that the biggest US temporary private recruitment agencies have entered is the UK and they add that the recruitment industry in UK is growing fast. Despite the fact that UK recruitment industry has been growing, the annual industry report launched by REC (2010) shows that turnover in the industry has decreased by around 12 per cent in the year to March 2010. Anyhow, REC (2010) adds that in spite of the most serious recession since records began, the recruitment industry still had around £20 billion sales in 2010.
In REC`s 2010 Media Pack Report it is also stated that recruitment agencies are replacing 1.2 million workers to temporary work per week and more than 700.000 employees in permanent work per year. Additionally, despite the decreasing level of recruitment through job centres and media advertising, reports show that there is consecutive increase in private sector recruitment activities (Ozbilgin and Tatli, 2006). As a result of low start-up cost and weak regulations, private recruitment agencies in the recruitment sector have differences from the similar agencies in the European Union countries. The REC (2012) mentioned that there are approximately 8.000 private recruitment agencies in the UK private recruitment sector. Most of them are not big organizations, generally calling themselves boutique organizations; a previous approximation stated that the agencies which have 100 or more employees are only the 8-12% of the sector (Hotopp, 2000). However Ozbilgin and Tatli (2006) have mentioned that in their research they found around 80 big size private recruitment agencies in the UK.
In the private recruitment sector, the recruitment process includes 3 main participators: recruitment agencies, clients (companies who are seeking for the employees), and candidates for the positions. The recruitment agencies have acted as an intermediary to match the expectations of both clients and candidates. The main business function of the most private recruitment agencies are staffing activities rather than consulting. However, recruitment agencies have been generally advising and guiding during the search and selection process to help their clients. Rutherford (2012) says that "â€¦this process (employment process) has endless variations and complications depending on such factors as the skills and experience required, the environment and career development offered and just as importantly, the personality fit. It is the recruitment consultant's job to facilitate this exercise for both the employer and the job seeker and to satisfy both.". Similarly, Doldor et al., (2012) state that recruitment agencies have two groups of clients, employees and companies who are searching for employees; and recruitment companies are loyal to both of these groups. Although, Ozbilgin and Tatli (2006) add that, propounding all these three parties, clients, candidates and recruitment agencies have similar level of power and influence on others might not be correct. In spite of the candidates have more negotiating power now than before, as a result of shortage of skills in labour market; still the clients maintain the power of negotiation during the recruitment process. However, some recruitment agencies may have power to restate expectations, reform job descriptions, and negotiate terms and conditions according to supply and demand of labour market.
In her article, Hotopp (2001) suggests private recruitment agencies are divided into three according to their operation types. In the first group, recruitment agencies are finding and supplying employees who have particular skills in particular sectors. In the second group, recruitment agencies are supplying all kinds of employees within particular locality. Finally, in the third group, recruitment agencies have operations related to headhunting, outplacement, and researching. Additionally, Hotopp (2001) states that major part of the recruitment agencies (63 per cent) deals with both temporary and permanent assignments, and less part of them deals with only temporary assignments (14 per cent) or only permanent assignments (23 per cent).
It is obvious that the main responsibilities of private recruitment agencies have been seen as recruiting instead of guiding and advising. Advising and guiding in the field of recruitment are related to public recruitment bodies as a part of welfare provision (Watts, 1996).
For the duration of researching, recruiting and selecting process, recruitment agencies use different methods. In their study, Ozbilgin and Tatli (2006) highlight two main steps of the recruitment and selection process: creation the candidate pools and giving the recruitment decisions. Firstly, the ways of creating pools that recruitment agencies using, usually depend on which groups of candidates they are searching for. To reach the targeted candidates most recruitment companies make use of various methods like advertising the vacancies through the media as magazines, newspapers, and websites. Furthermore, nearly all recruitment agencies run advertisements and online application forms on their own websites. Therefore, for the most of the recruitment agencies, candidates are expected to apply for the position. Instead of the majority, head-hunting agencies, so-called executive search companies, have contacted to candidates and ask for their interest to the positions. Even though some executive search agencies using website and media advertisements to create part of their candidate pools; usually executive search agencies have reached the candidates directly. Ozbilgin and Tatli (2006) demonstrate that, the most of the executive search agencies which they interviewed with have made use of networks when they are creating their candidate pools. For example, repeating business is a common thing in executive search relationships and executive search consultants generally use the executives that they recruited as sources to wider their candidate pool. Word-of-mouth is presented as the predominant method of gaining new clients among the head-hunters (Ozbilgin and Tatli, 2006). After creating candidate pools, as a second main step, giving the recruitment decisions process starts. As Hussein, Manthorpe, and Stevens (2010) suggest, all recruitment agencies conduct interviews with their candidates during the recruitment decision process. To assess their candidates` skills, abilities, and competencies some private recruitment agencies also use psychometric tests beside of the interviews. To quote from Ozbilgin and Tatli (2006) "â€¦what appears worrying is the abundance of discredited psychometric tests, as well as behavioural and body language assessments that may entertain discriminatory biases". As a result, at the end of the giving the recruitment decision process, the decision is determined by the judgement of the consultant regarding to candidates. Therefore, individual values and beliefs that the consultants have, can affect the recruitment and selection process. Consequently, because of this possible effect and also the sector`s potential to promote gender diversity; the equal opportunities and diversity levels of the consultants might have an important impact upon the recruitment activities in the agencies (Doldor et al., 2012).
2.2.2 Advice and guidance
The main business of private recruitment agencies are search and recruitment instead of advice and guidance (Ozbilgin, and Tatli, 2006; Hussein, Manthorpe, and Stevens 2010). However, indeed during the recruitment and selection process, recruitment consultants generally provide advice and guidance to their clients and candidates. Recruitment agencies` ways of giving advice and guidance to the clients and candidates can vary; it can be before, during and after the recruitment process. Additionally, Ozbilgin and Tatli (2006) state that according to their studies, referring labour market situations, sometimes recruitment agencies might be responsible to moderate the expectations of employers and employees. Conducting workshops, trainings, conferences, and face-to-face discussions are some of the activities that recruitment companies have done to moderate the expectations. Moreover, instead of moderating the expectations, some agencies also provide trainings on discrimination law for their clients in UK (Ozbilgin and Tatli, 2006). Hussein, Manthorpe, and Stevens (2010) mention that recruitment agencies can be seen as important in bringing equality and diversity subjects on the agenda of their clients. Briefly, lots of research presents that, the recruitment agencies awareness of the equal opportunities and diversity can provide with an opening for the job seekers from minoritised groups in society and also improve the equality and diversity awareness of their clients (Ozbilgin, and Tatli, 2006; Hussein, Manthorpe, and Stevens 2010).
2.2.3 Equality and diversity in private recruitment sector
The UK private recruitment sector is regulated through the Employment Agencies Act and is subject to equality legislation. In the REC`s Code of Practices (2012), respect for diversity has been stated as a principle; however most of issues about equality and diversity has been dealt by their own of the recruitment agencies. As the part of the recruitment agencies` role is to be a broker between candidates and clients during the whole recruitment process, the recruitment agencies are the crucial actors for promoting equality and diversity in the labour market. The consulting and guiding process has been conducted by the individual consultants; nevertheless very less agencies conducted practices like trainings to increase awareness.
Some academicians like Purcell and Cam (2002) argue that operations of private recruitment agencies are less effective in placements of minoritised groups than for others and might strengthen the current forms of the segregation. On the other hand, Battu et al. (2004) point out that unemployed people who are from ethnic minorities achieve better outcomes when they are looking for a job through recruitment agencies instead of by informal means. Some academicians also state that private recruitment agencies reinforce common forms of labour market segmentation and occupational segregation, which become an obstacle to career development of marginalized groups in society. For instance Hotopp (2001) demonstrate that, in private recruitment agencies 25 per cent of women held secretarial, clerical and less senior office staff jobs; when only 4 per cent of men held these positions in these agencies. Additionally, 17 per cent of men in recruitment agencies have jobs related to engineering and electronics, 16 per cent as drivers, where 3 per cent of women have engineering and electronics related jobs and 2 per cent as drivers.
Some research demonstrates that private recruitment sector in UK have five major barriers to equality and diversity (Ozbilgin, and Tatli, 2006). Firstly, the fact, all recruitment agencies want to present the "best candidate for the position" to their clients, and where the traditional worker in that industry is generally seen as the best candidate, reflects the lack of proactive equality and diversity initiatives. Next, both horizontal and vertical occupational segregation might affect the recruitment and selection patterns of the private recruitment sector (Hussein, Manthorpe, and Stevens 2010). Third, Ozbilgin and Tatli`s (2006) study`s results demonstrate that through the variety of operations of the private recruitment agencies, there are discreet types of gender bias and common gendered prejudices. In the fourth place, about the issues of promoting diversity and equality, recruitment agencies escape from responsibility; inequalities have seen as a responsibility of their clients or candidates. Finally, in spite of the presence level of legal compliance, in the literature, some studies show that there is a common unclearness among the sector about the responsibilities of recruitment agencies and consultants related to equality and diversity (Ozbilgin, and Tatli, 2006; Hussein, Manthorpe, and Stevens 2010). Moreover, as a result of less equality and diversity awareness and information in the recruitment industry, there is also a common unclearness about the implying of the legislations about anti-discrimination like age discrimination.
2.3 Gender Diversity
After examining the recruitment agencies, in order to obtain aim and objectives of this search, existing literature related to gender diversity is reviewed. Firstly, according to results of the academic analysis of UK`s private and public sectors organizations, the largely proportion of the senior level positions are held by white, able-bodied men in business and in the public sector in UK (Gatvell and Swan, 2008). Moreover, the results of activist surveys like conducted by Gay Rights Group Stonewall (TUC, 1999), academic studies (Ahmed et al., 2006), and research done by government agencies such as the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) (EOC, 2005a) have proved that workplace discrimination endures common and perpetual and precipitates further inequalities in a wider context. In his article, Acker (2006) stated that people from minoritised groups who are seen as others have experienced different types of inequalities and discrimination which include "â€¦ systematic disparities between participants in power and control over goals, resources, and outcomes; workplace decisions such as how to organize work; security in employment and benefits; pay and other monetary rewards; respect; and pleasures in work and work relations."
Even the term "gender" is used very commonly in daily life, legal documents and academic literature; the definitions of the gender generally vary (Gatvell and Swan, 2008). Although it is a common term in most aspects of life like business and academy; there isn`t a general understanding for gender, even between feminist scholars. Acker (1992), and Wharton (2005) emphasize that instead of the non-self-evident meanings of the term, gender, it has significant effects on the ways that the workplace and life outside the workplace are organised and experienced. Gender is accepted as a social construction by the most social theorists (Gatwell and Swan, 2008). Gatwell and Swan illustrates that social theorists see gender and also other social categories, like the consequences of human social process, actions, languages, thought and practices. They added that something which is socially constructed highlights the existing and forceful processes and mechanisms through which gender, race, religion, sexual preferences and disabilities are taken into existing in the workplace. Instead of existing features and cores, as the rest of social differences, gender is also seen as a process; thus people and societies dynamically produce in and through the workplace, and does not just occur like something that is stationary previous to or outside the workplace (Gatwell and Swan, 2008). To explain the reproduction of gender and gendering, Amy Wharton has created a three graded model in 2005. In her model, Wharton points out that referring to theorists suggestions, there are three core grades that gendering affects. Firstly, it has effects on the grade of personalised processes or practices, like socialisation, psychological influences, and/or individual choices. Hence, it may be perceived that women are more collaborative and nourishing than men; on the other hand men are more enthusiastic and individualistic than women. In the second place, Wharton (2005) says gender and gendering has effects on social interplays grade. Lastly, Wharton (2005) demonstrates that reproduction of gender, gendering and gender base inequalities occurred through social practices, structures, processes, and organizational and institutional cultures. As understood from Wharton`s (2005) article and more other academic studies (Acker, 2006; Acker, 1990) the understanding of gender and gendering has moved away from individualistic and interactional models; however it has started to seen as a created and reproduced with the influences of cultures, practices, and structures. For instance, Acker (1990) highlights that structures of organization are not gender-neutral and this point of views highlight the organizational contracts, hierarchies and job descriptions.
As a result of the various opinions about gender in workplace, a discussion has started about whether theorists and practitioners should focus on the gender in management instead of women in management. Wharton (2008) and some others agree that the notion of `gender and gendering` in opposition to `women` in management like a logical point of view means that the relationality between men and women, masculinity and femininity - the way that two terms cannot be separated from one to another-, social construction of them, reproduction of them into the workplace might be highlighted (Kerfoot and Knights, 1996; Wajcman, 1998).
After discussing the concept of gender and gendering, diversity management is going to be defined. Ozbilgin and Tatli (2008) briefly defined diversity management as a management philosophy which seeks to recognize and value heterogeneity in organizations. According to Kirton and Greene, using differences forms a productive environment, which helps organizations to meet their goals (2000). The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's report also supports Kirton and Greene's idea and add that, a successful implementation of diversity management results in an improvement in an organization's performance (Worman and Mulholland, 2005). Due to recognize the efficiency of organizational initiatives to promote gender diversity, Pels (2012) says that understanding the determinations of organizations is crucial. She adds that as most of organizations have realized the benefits of diversity management, they have put an effort on implying successful diversity management. There are several studies in literature which identify the benefits of well managed diversity (Cox and Blake, 1991; Kirton and Greene 2000; Sacco and Schmitt, 2005). Research has shown that organizations have not explored the full advantages of managing diversity yet, however promoting cost-effective employment; developing customer relations; improving financial performance and improving creativity, flexibility and innovation can be seen as the benefits that organizations may obtain when they implement diversity management (Anderson and Metcalfe, 2003; Gureshi, Bogenrieder, and Kumar, 2004; Page, 2007; Forbes Insight, 2011; Institute of Leadership and Management, 2011).
2.3.3 Gender diversity
After describing gender and diversity, the definition of "gender diversity" might be more comprehensible. As stated before, gender addresses to socially dominated gender responsibilities. Gender Diversity contains more other differences containing age, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, class, etc. that are social constructs as well and hence reproducible (Walter, 2008). Walter (2008) has described gender diversity as observing, evaluating, assisting and endorsing different abilities, resources and potential of women and men in their diversity as equivalent.
2.3.4 Importance of gender diversity
The importance of gender diversity is increasing day by day due to the several reasons. First, as Levin and Mattis (2006) mentioned in their research paper, women have reached a crucial mass in the professional and managerial ranks of an important percentage of the UK organizations. Regardless of a lack in highly-skilled employees in UK labour market, women are a large proportion of this (Ozgener, 2008orgbeh). In 2011, women made up 46.4 per cent of UK labour force participants (National Statistics, 2011) which has increased from 28 per cent in 1950 (Fuchs, 1975). With increasing participation of women in the UK`s labour market, challenges related to diversity and its management and also the realisation of the importance of successful diversity management have increased. As a result of increasing number of educated women and lack of high skilled employees in UK labour market, organizations need to benefit from gender diversity for widening their search pool when they are searching for talent (Ongori and Agolla, 2007). According to HESA`s report (2012), in 2010/11women earned 56.6 per cent of all undergraduate degrees, 49.3 per cent of masters degrees and 45.2 per cent of doctorates degrees in all fields including nearly a third of all science and engineering degrees and more than half of non-science PhDs.
Secondly, as Levin and Mattiss (2006) suggest, women have played a crucial role as a leading-edge in renovating the workplace. With increasing necessity of women employees for organizations to reach success, organizations have recognized the fact that family/individual needs of whole workers are legitimate concerns. Initially, organizations were considered work/family balance conflicts as women`s issues (Levin and Mattiss, 2006). However, nowadays work/life balance assistance is expected from organizations which contains programs and/or policies related to personals` wants for workplace flexibility, and dual-career couples` wants for relocation assistance. Currently, work/life initiatives are concerned like essential for successful diversity management in the UK`s organizations as proved by the annual rankings of organizations on their family-friendly programs and policies which occur in business and women`s publications (Branch, 1999).
In accordance with Levin and Mattis (2006), the third reason to concentrate on women is that the things which organizations have learned from gender diversity help them to develop other forms of diversity initiatives. In "Creating Women's Networks: A How-to guide for Women and Companies", Catalyst (1999a) points out that initiatives that were created to promote gender diversity in organizations commonly functions as models initiatives related to the wants of other diversity groups.
A significant amount of organizations have experienced failures during the diversity management implementation process; and these failures cost a lot (Levin and Mattis, 2006). Inability to recruit, retain and advance successful senior level employees can be seen as one of the crucial factors of these failures. As highlighted in the study "Breaking the barriers: Women in Senior Management in the UK" (Catalyst, 2000) followings are the most strong barriers to women`s career development: "... commitment to family responsibilities; stereotyping and preconceptions of women`s roles and abilities; lack of senior visibly successful female role models; inhospitable organisational culture; exclusion from informal networks of communication; failure of senior leadership to assume responsibility for women`s advancement; lack of significant general or line management experience; personal style differences; lack of mentoring; lack of awareness of organizational politics; lack of professional development opportunities; lack of opportunities for visibility; lack of opportunities to work on challenging assignments; sexual harassment; few women can/want to do what it takes to get to the top; and nothing having been long in the pipeline".
Finally, as seen in the previous review, in spite of the increasing importance of the private recruitment agencies, there is still a little research on how they promote gender diversity and their current attitudes toward promoting gender diversity in senior levels. Since their growing part in UK`s job placement, and also effects and influence on their clients, it can be significant to understand the recent attitudes of private recruitment agencies toward promoting gender diversity in senior positions. After that, because of being lack research on the barriers that they have experienced and their resistance toward gender diversity, discovering this resistance and barriers can be beneficial.
In this chapter, previous studies in literature which are related to recruitment agencies and gender diversity have been presented as a secondary data .The literature which is about the recent situation of recruitment agencies in the UK, and the business process, activities and roles of the recruitment companies have been briefly discussed in the first part of the literature review. Secondly, definitions of gender, diversity, and gender diversity and benefits of gender diversity which take part in literature have been reviewed. Finally, at the end of this chapter, gaps in the existing literatures have been demonstrated.
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY
In this chapter, the research approaches that used, the research design, information about the data collection process, participants, and limitations of this dissertation are examined.
With the purpose of understanding and explaining the relationship between gender diversity and recruitment agencies, qualitative approach was adopted in this study as it might be appropriate methodology. Additionally, in this chapter, issues about validity and reliability of this research and also research limitations are discussed.
3.1.1 Research aim and objectives
In this study, a number of aim and objectives are set in the context of gender diversity and recruitment agencies. The aim of this study seeks is to identify current attitudes of recruitment agencies toward gender diversity and their effects on promoting gender diversity, as well as contributing the current debate about gender diversity on senior positions.
To succeed this aim following objectives are formed;
1- To identify how recruitment agencies promote gender diversity in senior positions
2- To identify what are the barriers and limitations that recruitment agencies experience when they try to promote gender diversity
3- To identify if the recruitment companies resist to gender diversity or not
3.2 Research Methods
In their books, Ghauri and Gronhaug (2010) describe research methods as systematic, focused, methodic data that collected for the aim of gaining information from them, to construe a specific research problem or question. Qualitative and qualitative research approaches are the two main types of research methods (Bryman and Bell, 2007). A research be either served by quantitative or qualitative approaches; however in some situations, both methods can be used (Collis and Hussey, 2003). Most of study emphasize that, quantitative method is formed to research engineering and natural related phenomena and the methods like surveys, academic experiment and numerical methods (Bryman and Bell, 2007; Myers, 2009). On the other hand, qualitative approach is formed to research social phenomena and the methods like case studies, participant observations and interviews.
There are some differences between qualitative and quantitative approaches. The differences between these two approaches` procedures can be seen as the main difference (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2010). Firstly, quantitative research is defined as deductive and inductive in nature, and with an intensive positivist approach (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Quantitative approach is generally assisted by test theories, which are the theories and hypothesis that form the data collection. Additionally, in qualitative research, deductive or inductive approaches can be obtained related to contend and context of research (Berg and Lune, 2012). Qualitative approach often starts with gathering data; and then it explores them to decide which themes or issues to follow up or on (Corbin and Strauss, 2008; Silverman, 2010).
3.3 Research Design
On account of this study`s aim and objectives, qualitative research method is decided to use to obtain the most accurate and explicit results.
As the aim of this dissertation is to identify current attitudes of recruitment agencies toward gender diversity and their effects on promoting gender diversity; firstly UK`s recruitment agencies and consultants` attitudes and approaches toward gender diversity and also their experiences related to gender diversity should be explored deeply. In their book Hennink, Hutter and Bailey, (2011) state that qualitative approach is peculiarly convenient and beneficial approach of exploring people`s beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and understandings. Similarly, Ghauri and Gronhaug (2002) emphasize it is a frequently used approach to reveal experiences and also understand behaviours and function of people.
Additionally, the underlying reasons of being fewer women on senior positions can be seen as traditions and historical background of business life. Moreover, qualitative search offers the researcher opportunity to discover the underlying reasons of people; and by examining them, features which affect people behaviour might be expose (Creswell, 2009). Besides, it can be seen as the most beneficial way of examining something deeply (Myers, 2009).
Moreover, Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2003) demonstrate that qualitative methods might offer more flexibility than quantitative methods during data collecting and analysing. Therefore, the questions that are used in interviews may not limit participant with a list of answer choices. Related to the objectives of this study, participants may have chance to express the various ways that they use when they try to promote gender diversity and as well as the different types of barriers and limitations that they have experienced, when open-ended questions are asked them.
Finally, as Bryman and Bell (2010) point out, questions which start with "why" and "how" can be used during qualitative research`s data collecting process. As a result, with the benefits of qualitative research offers, recruitment agencies` probable resistance toward gender diversity can be revealed.
3.4 Data Collection
Secondary analysis of data is a research method which is described as the process of analysing and understanding the data that gathered in the previous studies (Saunders, 2012). Besides the several other advantages of utilizing this method; cost and time related advantages might be seen crucial. Additionally, assisting the researchers to narrow the area of their study and determine the scope of their study can be one of other significant benefits of secondary data analysing.
In this dissertation, literature review is conducted as secondary data collection and analysis. In consequence of searching and examining the previous studies concerning gender diversity and\or recruitment agencies, detailed knowledge about the subject are have been acquired. What is more, the possible values that can be added by this dissertation related to subject area are determined with the help of secondary analysis.
The initial aim of this dissertation was to identify the recruitment agencies attitudes toward gender diversity in all levels of employment. However, after during the secondary data collection and analysing process, the aim of the research narrowed to identify UK`s private recruitment agencies attitudes toward gender diversity in senior levels. Additionally, after exploring the literature, it has been investigated that from the all private recruitment agencies, executive search companies are the ones which have the strongest effect on gender diversity; therefore it was decided to interview executive search agencies` managing directors to collet primary data of this research.
3.4.1 Primary data collection and Analysis
As a result of the limitations that have been experienced when using secondary data; it generally is not used as the main method for conducting a study (Bryman and Bell, 2010).
On the other hand, the originality can be obtained by primary data; which also helps to achieve the aims and objectives of research. With getting assistance from secondary data and using primary data as a main data collecting method, more reliable results can be obtained in a research (Saunders, 2012).
In this dissertation, semi-structured in-depth interviews are used as a primary data collecting method. As emphasized previously, this study is an exploratory study. Therefore, after careful considerations, to maximise the volume and reliability of data, semi-structured in-depth interviews, which will be face to face with participant, are decided to use in this dissertation.
220.127.116.11 Semi-Structured Interviews
As Bryman and Bell (2007) state, interviews are the most commonly used data collection methods in qualitative research. Structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews are the types of interviews (Silverman, 2010). Creswell (2009), points out that semi-structured in-depth interviews are peculiarly convenient and beneficial approach of exploring people`s beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and understandings. Moreover, semi-structured interviews might offer more flexibility and space for profound conversation, and also more control over the participant to receive answers (Corbin and Strauss, 2009). Furthermore, it lowers the risk of misunderstanding the questions, as it let interviewer to explain the questions.
Finally, as being a method which offers interviewer to discover the attitude towards a subject; semi-structured in-depth interviews are decided to use during the primary data collection process to reach the aims and objectives of this research.
3.5 Interview Design
Firstly, in order to create qualified interview questions, the guide that has been designed by Bryman and Bell (2010) has been used (which can be seen in figure 1).
Figure 1: Designing questions for an interview guide (Bryman and Bell, 2010)
Specific research Questions
General Research Area
Some questions were revised.
-Organizational info and attitudes
- Clients` info and R.A.` effects on them
-Candidates` info and R.A.`s effects on them
- R.A.`S gender diversity awareness
Recruitment Agencies and Gender Diversity
What is the attitudes of R.A.` toward gender diversity; and R.A.` effects of promoting gender diversity
Pilot interviews were conducted with 2 participants.
Some questions were not clear.
Some interview questions were revised again.
Question guide was finalized and ready for interview.
The semi-structured interview questions have designed to answer the research questions of this dissertation. The interview questions that have been used in the articles which named "Opening up opportunities through private sector recruitment and guidance agencies" (Ozbilgin and Tatli, 2006) and "Gender Diversity on Boards: The Appointment Process and the Role of Executive Search Firms" (Doldor, et al., 2012), have been used as main inspiration to create the interview questions of this dissertation. Ozbilgin and Tatli`s (2006) and Doldor, et al.`s (2012) interview question have modified according to gender diversity literature (Acker, 2006; Catalyst, 2010; Catalyst, 2011; Davies, 2011; Gatvell, an Swan, 2008; Sealy et al., 2009a-b; Sealy et al., 2011; Sigh et al. 2008; Thrnou, 2003; Vinnicombe, et al., 2011). Additionally the articles about executive search firms (Clark, 1992; Faulconbridge et al., 2008; Finlay and Coverdill, 2007; Hamori, 2010; Hotopp, 2001; Jenn 2005) have been used when determining the interview questions. Moreover, two executive search consultants` ideas and opinions have been asked to benefit from their experiences during the designing interview questions process.
There are 28 questions and some of them have probes to be able to get details of the answers. The questions have been grouped in to four subjects which are: organizational information and attitudes; recruitment agencies clients` information and agencies effects on them; recruitment agencies` candidates` information and agencies` effects on them; and finally, recruitment agencies gender diversity awareness. All questions have been ordered in terms or their subject group. Moreover, whole questions have been designed to find answers to particular objectives of this dissertation. In the table 1, which research objective(s) each question relates to, can be seen.
Table1 -Relations of questions and objectives
Objectives: A- To identify how recruitment agencies promote gender diversity in senior positions
B-To identify what are the barriers and limitations that recruitment agencies experience when they try to promote gender diversity
C-To identify if the recruitment companies resist to gender diversity or not
A, B, C
A, B, C
A, B, C
A, B, C
A, B, C
The interview questions had been sent to the participants via emails before the interviews; the reasons of it are explained in pilot testing part. Some of the examples of questions are as follow:
What are your company's objectives? What do you try to achieve when you conduct your business?
Do recruitment agencies promote gender diversity in senior positions (Your company, and other companies as well)? -Probe: How?
How do you create a long list and a short list? How are the candidates identified, sifted, and selected?
The whole list of the interview questions is presented in appendix 1. Additionally, transcripts of the interviews can be seen on appendix 2.
The people that have been interviewed had been identified based on purposive sampling. As the need of sampling with a purpose in mind to reach this dissertation`s aims; after careful considerations, purposive sampling (nonprobability sampling) is decided to be used in this study (Denzin and Lincoln, 2011).
Because of their important role matching of labour market supply and demand, private sector recruitment agencies have taken significant part in promoting comprehensive labour market (Ozbilgin and Tatli, 2006). Additionally, executive search companies can be seen as the key stake holders in increasing the number of the women in senior positions in the UK (Higgs, 2003; Tyson, 2003). As a result, it is possible to say that executive search companies have more influence than other recruitment agencies on their clients, in terms of promoting gender diversity. Taking cognizance of this fact, executive search consultants, each of them works in different companies, have been chosen as participants. Since the aim of this research is looking for identifying the private recruitment agencies` attitudes and effects rather than individual consultants`; interviews have done with 5 senior consultants who are also holding one of the positions of managing director, managing partner, international chairman or CEO. These people have been identified as participants because of their influence on the operations and cultures of their organizations.
The interviews have been done in London and Oxford between 22 July and 04 September, 2012. Interviews have lasted about 33-45 minutes. 3 of the participants were males and 2 of them were females. The detail of participants also provided in the table 2.
Table2 - Details of Participants
Position in the Organization
Date of interview
Managing Director and Senior Consultant
22 July 2012
Managing Partner and Senior Consultant
31 July 2012
Managing Partner and Senior Consultant
07 August 2012
CEO and Senior Consultant
31 August 2012
International Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Consultant
4 September 2012
3.7 Pilot Testing
Before the interviews started, 2 pilot tests have been conducted with 1 female and 1 male executive search consultants. The interview questions were asked both of the consultants and their responses were recorded. Respondents` understanding of questions` meanings; questions` clarity; effectiveness of data capture; finding the possible recording problems; and receiving feedbacks were intended to be tested. After conducting the pilot testing, need for change identified in questions design, wording or instruction were determined. Moreover some questions were added to find more appropriate answers related to research objectives.
In the following, the interview questions are presented, that were added and modified, regarding to make them more clear and serve them to help reaching research`s objectives:
Questions that were changed:
Could you tell me how gender issues are addressed in your operations?
Revised questions after pilot testing:
Could you tell me how gender issues are addressed in your operations, both internal and external? What do you think this brand says about you?
Questions that were added after pilot testing:
Have you experienced any barriers and limitations when you advise your candidates?
Have you experienced any barriers and limitations when you advise your clients?
3.8 Data Analysis- Content Analysis
Berg and Lune (2012) defines qualitative data analysis as a process of interpreting the data that collected during the qualitative research. Content analysis, narrative analysis and thematic analysis are some of the approaches of qualitative analysing (Bryman and Bell, 2010). Content analysis has been adopted in this dissertation. As a research method, content analysis is a systematic and objective means of defining and quantifying phenomena (Downe-Wamboldt, 1992; Sandelowski, 1995). The content analysing steps, which were taken from Elo and Kyngas` (2007) research, have been followed (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Preparation, resulting, and organizing steps of content analysis (Elo and Kyngas, 2007)
Firstly, all recorded interviews, have been transcribed in NVivo 10 (see appendix 3); and then as a unit of analysis, themes were selected. Inductive approach has been adopted, as it is more useful to attain the objectives. After that, transcriptions have been read several times for open coding. Subsequently, nodes were created in NVivo (details of nodes are discussed in chapter 4) and all data have been coded. Results are categorized according to the objectives. At the end of each result, discussions have conducted with relevant literature.
3.9 Reliability and Validity
In academic research, reliability is defined as an extent to which any data collection procedure gives consistent and repeatable results (Kirk and Miller, 1986). Even though in qualitative research, reliability can be seen as problematic; there are some ways of measuring reliability of qualitative research such as: carefully reporting methodology used in collecting data; double-coding as means of checking reliability (Miles and Huberman, 1994).
By voice recording and transcribing the voice records` of interviews, the issues related to reliability have been accomplished. Before starting the voice recording all participants were informed and their agreement was obtained.
Joppe (2000) explains validity as "It determines whether the research truly measures that which it was intended to measure or how truthful the research results are. In other words, does the research instrument allow you to hit "the bull's eye" of your research object?".
In this research, validity is determined with the assistance of secondary data collection and pilot testing. Firstly, as mentioned in interview design section, the interview questions that have been used in the articles which named "Opening up opportunities through private sector recruitment and guidance agencies" (Ozbilgin and Tatli, 2006) and "Gender Diversity on Boards: The Appointment Process and the Role of Executive Search Firms" (Doldor, et al., 2012), have been used as main inspiration to create the interview questions of this dissertation. These questions have modified according to existing literature (details are given in part 3.5). Moreover, two executive search consultants` ideas and opinions have been asked to benefit from their experiences during the designing interview questions process. Secondly, as a result of pilot testing need for change identified in questions design, wording or instruction were determined. Also some questions were added to find more appropriate answers related to research objectives. As a result of these two steps validity is attained.
3.10 Ethical Consideration
The ethics of the planning, conducting, and reporting of research is called research ethics (Diener and Crandal, 1978). Benatar and Singer (2000) highlight that the roots of the dimension of research ethics can be vary; however it should contain protection of human and animal subjects. Usually, collection, usage, and analysis of the research data are the concern of research ethics.
Brunel Business School research ethics provided the ethical guidelines of this dissertation. Before the each interview started, the participants had been informed of the research ethics which contains the aim and objectives of this dissertation. In addition, the participant information sheet, which can be seen at appendix 4, had been presented to all participants before the interviews started. The agreements of participants had been asked, before the voice recording started. It was also emphasized that, participant in this research is voluntary and all information will be complete confidence and used only for this dissertation project. Moreover, confidentiality of the participants` identities was explained. The data collection process was undertaken with the concerns of ethical consideration.
3.11 Research Limitations
Even though the most convenient methods were used in this dissertation, there are still limitations, as all research has limitations (Bryman and Bell, 2007).
The amount of participants in primary data collection can be seen one of the limitations of this dissertation. As a result of time constraint, limited access and busy schedules` of the target participants, 5 senior consultants were interviewed, so the findings might not be generalised and characterise all private recruitment sector.
In second place, because of the limitation of time and financial sources, the interviews have taken place in only two cities, London and Oxford. However, to obtaining more qualified findings, data that collecting from some other organizations` employees, which are locating in different cities can be beneficial.
Finally, as Miles and Huberman (1994) demonstrate, to obtain reliability, double-coding can be used; however in this study reliability is ensured by only voice recording and transcribing as a consequence of time limitation.
This chapter presents the methodology of the study and the basis of the deciding method process. The research design process; the details of creating interview questions and conducting interviews; and features of participants have been explained thoroughly. Furthermore, data analysis process and subjects related to this process in the study like reliability and validity, ethical consideration, and research limitations have been examined.
CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS & DISCUSSION
In this chapter, data collected by the interview with 5 executive search consultants is analysed. In order to attain the aim and objectives of this study, with the assistance of Nvivo10, content analysis was carried out. In NVivo, 7 free nodes (can be seen at Appendix5) and 4 tree nodes (can be seen at Appendix6) were created. To make coding process easier, the nodes were categorized into three groups depending on the relatedness with the each of the objectives (can be seen on Appendix7). Table 3 shows the results of the content analysis. Table 3 comprises variables, categories and sub-categories along with the number of quotes and percentage of interviews. After stating the findings, discussion has been conducted by analysing the findings in accordance with the literature.
4.2 Findings and discussion related to objective 1:
Objective 1: To identify how recruitment agencies promote gender diversity in senior positions
In order to show the results related to the first objective of this dissertation, initially, analysing the responses of the participants which answer the question "Do private recruitment agencies promote gender diversity?", can be useful. Regarding to NVivo results, 80% of participants mentioned that their organizations promote gender diversity. On the other hand, 2 respondents emphasize that, not all the executive search companies have given the enough attention to promoting gender diversity in senior positions in the UK. Finally, two of the participants have stated that private recruitment agencies in the UK, do promote gender diversity in senior positions. One of them said:
"I think they (private recruitment agencies) do (promote gender diversity in senior positions) in the UK." (Participant 5)
After presenting the general findings as an introduction to objective 1 of this dissertation; to attain 1st objective, private recruitment agencies` 2 ways of promoting gender diversity in senior positions have been determined on the basis of the findings from interviews: influencing and affecting the clients and candidates; and creating diverse long-lists and short-lists.
4.2.1 Influencing and affecting the clients and candidates
During the interviews, all of the participants have highlighted their advising and guiding roles, thus their influence and effects on their either clients, candidates or both. Furthermore, all of them have related this influence to promoting gender diversity. For instance Participant 1 said that:
"We are trying to provide advice and guidance rather than just recruitment; so we have effects on our clients and candidates â€¦ We positively promote gender diversity, yes our effects on them (clients and candidates) can be ( a way of promoting gender diversity in senior positions)" (Participant 1)
18.104.22.168 Influencing and affecting the clients
First of all, all 5 of the respondents have pointed out their effects and influence on their clients. They added that with advising and guiding, they can assist promoting gender diversity in their client organizations.
"Firstly we actively advise, encourage, and talk to our clients openly about promoting gender diversity" (Participant 3)
It is possible to understand the influence of private recruitment agencies on their clients related to promoting gender diversity, from the example of Participant 5:
"â€¦ I put a short list that for the senior vice president of business development â€¦ for a very big UK group in FTSE 20 ... The people who match the specification of that they gave me were male and they were short listed. Then I went in and I said I have got someone that doesn`t match that what you ask me to find, but I think she is four better than any of the other people and that was a lady, and she got the job ... If I hadn`t taken the risk and advised the client, he would appointed a man." (Participant 5)
Moreover, in addition affecting their clients on their preferences, as recruitment consultants play a mediator role, they can also influence the expectations of their clients in the negotiation stage; and it can be help to promote gender diversity.
"Yes (I have effect on matching the expectations of clients and candidates), particularly where the candidate is dissatisfied but the expectations of the client have been met. We explore the failing with the client in case they can be rectified," (Participant 3)
22.214.171.124 Influencing and affecting the candidates
As well as influencing the clients, advising and guiding candidates has been seen as a way of promoting gender diversity in senior positions by the 60 per cent of the participants. One of the respondents mentioned that:
"Yes (I advise and guide female candidates and it helps promoting gender diversity), I think that if we have a woman, female candidate who is doubtful about the area that for which we are recruiting, we would trying to talk with her about why she should