Communicating gender diversity - A comparative study of executive search companies

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
This thesis examines how executive search companies communicate and represent gender diversity on their websites. It focuses on understanding the current state of gender equality of Finnish executive teams and how the executive search companies communicate about their role in it. Previous research on this topic reveals that executive search consultants have an impact on which candidates get to the end of the search processes. Executive search has well established steps which most of the processes follow. During these steps the consultants find candidates, evaluate them and present them to the clients. During these steps of the processes the biases the consultants might have, even if they are unconscious biases, can impact the final result of the search processes. This thesis is a qualitative study. The study is a comparative analysis in which six companies’ websites were analysed. One of these companies is presented as a best practice case. The material for the analysis consists of textual and visual materials in the form of the text and pictures that were used on the websites. The findings of this study reveal that executive search companies communicate about gender diversity at least in some way. The study also found that there were large differences on the amount of communication and the way the communication was executed. The minimum amount of gender diversity communication consisted of the companies either stating that they understand the importance of diverse teams or of declaring this understanding in their company values. The companies that communicated the most about their understandings and views shared about their thoughts on the matter, discussed the methods they use during their search processes and shared numerical data about the gender of the candidates they have placed in executive roles. If the companies used pictures on their websites, the pictures had both men and women represented in similar settings.
Thesis advisor
Piekkari, Rebecca
executive search, gender diversity, gender equality, johdon suorahaku
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