Reputation Attracts Recruits, Especially Gen Y

April 20, 2015 5:10 pm

By Barbara Frankel

MillennialsA company’s ability to recruit top talent is significantly impacted by its reputation as a good corporate citizen – and that includes being inclusive in the workplace and the marketplace.

Companies that have strongly stated inclusive morals and act decisively to stand up for them are more attractive to recruits, according to the study’s findings. In recent days, that would include Eli Lilly and Company, Cummins, Anthem, Marriott International and Monsanto, all of whom vehemently opposed  Indiana’s anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A 2014 study cited in the Academy of Management Journal measured the impact of an organization’s corporate social performance (CSP) on its attractiveness to potential recruits.

The study, by Professors David A. Jones of the University of Vermont, Chelsea R. Willness of the University of Saskatchewan, found that job seekers receive cues on an organization’s CSP, which determine their perceived value fit with the organization and their expectations about how the organization treats its employees.

In separate field tests, the authors surveyed several hundred job applicants and university students and found they rely on signals sent by recruitment materials (these days primarily web-based).

The study found that more than 85 percent of the job seekers felt CSP was a critical factor in selecting a company as their top choice. Several participants noted that the CSP set one company apart from others.  The survey also found that people who were not exposed to CSP information were significantly more likely to mention points about work climate, job characteristics and the overall company (mostly negatively).

“Recruiting organizations attempt to attract workers by distinguishing themselves from other organizations … Pay and location are key factors but not all the factors. Research shows companies with higher CSP are more attractive to recruits,” the study found.

The “signals” the employer sends are about its “prestige, specific values and pro-social orientation.” For these, job-seekers will anticipate “pride from being associated with a prestigious organization that is lauded for its CSP, perceived value fit in relation to the organizational values demonstrated by CSP, and expected treatment by the organization given its pro-social efforts to enhance the well-being of others through its CEP (community education partners).

The authors cite other studies, which found that linking organizational prestige to anticipated pride makes people “feel proud of being part of a well-respected organization, as it strengthens their feelings of self-worth to bask in reflected glory.”

Best Practices In Inclusive Recruiting

So what are the best ways to send the message to potential recruits that your company has strong CPS, including an inclusive culture?

Here are some tactics used by The 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, compared with national statistics on best practices supplied by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). When you compare the Top 50 new hire/workforce demographics to U.S. demographics (EEOC data), you see these best practices have demonstrable results.

 Incorporate D&I in Corporate Vision Statement

Top 50




Have Written Policy on Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Top 50




Visible Leadership – CEOs





Top 50





US (Fortune 500)