Absence of conflict of interest.
The study’s objective was to examine the impact of court-ordered affirmative action policies on the representation of white women, black men, and black women employed in managerial positions. The authors investigated similar research questions for other interventions, the profiles of which can be found here:
The study used a nonexperimental design to estimate the impact of court-ordered affirmative action policies on the representation of white women, black women, and black men in managerial positions one year after the court settlement or verdict. Study authors used data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and a database on the settlements and verdicts of major employment discrimination lawsuits to analyze the impact of court-ordered affirmative action policies on changes in sex and race composition of managerial positions.
The study found a significant relationship between court-mandated affirmative action policies and higher odds of white women, black women, and black men being represented in managerial positions.
This study receives a low causal evidence rating. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to court-ordered affirmative action policies; other factors are likely to have contributed.
Court-Ordered Affirmative Action
Features of the Study
Affirmative action policies seek to strengthen organizational accountability and responsibility in regard to reducing bias and discrimination in the workplace. Although the authors did not provide details for each individual case that legally required affirmative action or related diversity plans, these policies were summarized as concrete policies to build diversity efforts into the organizational structure of the establishments. Specific policies common to affirmative action and related diversity plans included targeted recruitment efforts, targeted hiring plans, and/or promotion goals.
The study used a nonexperimental design to estimate the impact of court-ordered affirmative action policies on the representation of white women, black women, and black men employed in managerial positions. Study authors used data from high-profile employment discrimination lawsuits settled from 1996 through 2008 that required the firm to implement affirmative action policies or related diversity plans in the court settlements or verdicts for each subsidiary establishment. The authors measured managerial diversity one year following the lawsuit settlement or verdict. In addition to controlling for unobservable characteristics, the statistical model controlled for several lawsuit and organizational characteristics such monetary awards for plaintiffs, the number of plaintiffs and lawsuits that each firm faced, establishment size, firm size, the percent of white male managers, within-establishment labor supply and local labor market, and the year.
The study found that court-ordered affirmative action policies were significantly related to higher odds of white women, black women, and black men represented in manager positions.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Given that high profile lawsuits and their resulting court-mandated policy requirements were public information, it is likely that employees within the sampled establishments anticipated the affirmative action policies. Additionally, the data sources used did not provide information on previous policies/outcome data of the establishments required to implement affirmative action policies prior to the court settlements or verdicts. Because of this, the authors were not able to appropriately control for the anticipation and associated affected behavior prior to the intervention.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not account for trends in outcomes prior to the participant’s anticipation of the court-ordered affirmative action policies. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to court-ordered affirmative action policies; other factors are likely to have contributed.