Towards a More Complete Understanding of Adverse Impact: Examining Issues of Minority Availability

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Virginia Tech

Selection research often examines whether adverse impact can be reduced/eliminated from employment practices. Such research, however, largely ignores the influence of minority availability issues (i.e., the number of minorities who apply and the number of minorities who accept a job offer); three general factors comprise minority availability: the missing applicant problem, targeted recruitment and job refusal rates. As minority availability issues have not been systematically addressed in the broader literature, the purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to highlight the importance of and explicate a comprehensive description of their potential effects on adverse impact and 2) to demonstrate such effects through monte carlo simulations. Specifically, simulations were used to examine issues related to the level effects and covariance effects of minority availability on adverse impact. Therefore, an iterative process was used whereby minority availability factors were manipulated to produce combinations that meaningfully affect adverse impact; the goal was to conduct as many simulations as necessary to establish a reliable pattern of the effects of minority availability on adverse impact. Simulation results suggest minority availability issues can influence the detection of adverse impact. In fact, minority availability issues may hinder efforts to reduce adverse impact in some selection contexts. Implications of these results are discussed.

applicant availability, adverse impact, Simulation, selection, race