Minority employees are less likely to believe that their organisation's selection and promotion criteria are fair or unbiased as a lack of transparency and recruiting efforts that deliver more of the same type of people undermine organisations' claims to be objective and inclusive.
A survey of 3,100 senior human resources executives by Boston-based consultancy Novations Group has found that while nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of all employees believe their company's policies are equitable, fewer than half (47 per cent) of minority workers agrees.
The survey found that a quarter (26 per cent) of minority workers felt that their organisations' procedures are unfair compared to only 18 per cent of all employees, with the remainder "not sure".
Perceived unfairness in selection and promotion is one of the biggest causes of employee cynicism, believes Novations Group Vice President Tim Vigue.
"We weren't surprised to find that as many as one-fifth of all employees in the study distrusts the way in which people are hired or picked for advancement," he said.
"This simmering resentment undermines team work and trust in top management."
According to Vigue, selection policies at many organisations are informal and chaotic, which help prompt the disaffection among employees.
"Companies recruit from the same pools all the time. HR turns to the same networks, or relies on referrals from current employees. The upshot is that organisations keep bringing in similar kinds of people, which doesn't encourage outreach or inclusion."
An equally serious problem for management, Vigue said, is new hires that fail to work out. "It's astonishing how many people leave a new job within 18 months, sometimes as many as half of a company's new hires. What went wrong? And what can be done to improve the selection process?
"Lack of employee trust and excessive new hire turnover should be addressed by establishing hiring practices that are structured, open and inclusive," he added.
"Employers need to define the criteria for positions at all levels, and the criteria shouldn't be just about technical skills, but soft skills as well."
But many employers refuse to concede their hiring or promotion processes are flawed. "Most claim to have an objective and inclusive system…but then they focus recruiting efforts on bonuses for employees who bring in more employees just like themselves," Vigue argued.
"What we repeatedly find is that hiring and promotion criteria aren't transparent, openings aren't communicated effectively, and procedures aren't consistent or unbiased. Too often people aren't getting an equal shot at open positions or opportunities for advancement."