My goal is to conduct innovative research in the fascinating area of Human Resource Management, with a special focus on diversity in organizations and gender diversity in top management.

“It is not enough to merely state that the company is committed to diversity, as stakeholders will look for evidence supporting or refuting such claims”
Derek R. Avery & C. Douglas Johnson

Since 2014, I have conducted a series of research projects together with Lynn Bowes-Sperry, Filip Lievens, Deborah Kidder, Jens Mazei, Ho Kwahn Cheung, Karsten Jonsen, Michèle Morner, Meinald Thielsch and Guido Hertel on individuals’ perceptions of organizational diversity efforts and the effect of such efforts on the employer image potential job seekers develop. Based on these projects, we wrote (and still write) various papers. The first, on the paradox of diversity initiatives, was recently accepted for publication by the Journal of Business Ethics. The second paper on gender diversity mixed messages was accepted for publication by the Journal of Applied Psychology. The third paper, a content analysis of the diversity-related communication on the corporate websites of major German companies was accepted by the Journal of Business Ethics.


As a young researcher, I am extremely interested in the exchange of ideas and continuously seeking for research collaborations in the field of organizational diversity.

Academy of Management Meeting 2015

In August 2015, I presented my work on the paradox of diversity initiatives at the Academy of Management’s Annual Meeting in Vancouver

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Perceptions of Diversity Mixed Messages

Leon Windscheid, Lynn Bowes-Sperry, Deborah Kidder, Ho Kwan Cheung, Michèle Morner, & Filip Lievens (2016, Journal of Applied Psychology); won the Academy of Management’s “Carolyn Dexter Award” 2016.

Abstract. To attract a gender diverse workforce many employers use diversity statements to publicly signal that they value gender diversity. However, this often represents a misalignment between words and actions (i.e., a diversity mixed message) because most organizations are male dominated, especially in board positions. We conducted three studies to investigate the potentially indirect effect of such diversity mixed messages through perceived behavioral integrity on employer attractiveness. In Study 1, following a 2×2 design, participants (N = 225) were either shown a pro gender diversity statement or a neutral statement, in combination with a gender diverse board (four men and four women) or a uniform all-male board (eight men). Participants’ perceived behavioral integrity of the organization was assessed. In Study 2, participants (N = 251) either read positive or negative reviews of the organization’s behavioral integrity. Employer attractiveness was then assessed. Study 3 (N = 427) investigated the impact of board gender composition on perceived behavioral integrity and employer attractiveness using a bootstrapping procedure. Both the causal-chain design of Study 1 and 2 as well as the significance test of the proposed indirect relationship in Study 3 revealed that a diversity mixed message negatively affected an organization’s perceived behavioral integrity, and low behavioral integrity in turn negatively impacted employer attractiveness. In Study 3, there was also evidence for a tipping point (more than one woman on the board was needed) with regard to participants’ perceptions of the organization’s behavioral integrity.

Keywords: Diversity, Mixed Message, Employer Attractiveness, Women on Board, Behavioral Integrity


Managing Organizational Gender Diversity Images: A Content Analysis of German Corporate Websites

Leon Windscheid, Lynn Bowes-Sperry, Karsten Jonsen, & Michèle Morner (2016, Journal of Business Ethics)

Abstract. Although establishing gender equality in board and managerial positions has recently become more important for organizations, companies with low levels of gender diversity seem to perceive an ethical dilemma regarding the ways, in which they attempt to attain it. One way that organizations try to move toward gender equality is through the use of their corporate websites to manage potential applicants’ impressions of their current levels of, and actions to improve, gender diversity. The dilemma is whether to truthfully communicate their low level of gender diversity, conceal it, or exaggerate it. On the one hand, organizations that are truthful may find it difficult to achieve equality because women are less attracted to companies that lack diversity. On the other hand, organizations that are untruthful risk their moral legitimacy. The present work investigates gender diversity-related communication on the corporate websites of 99 major German companies. Based on theoretical work on minority attraction, we apply an organizational impression management taxonomy to guide our in-depth content analysis. With this approach, we hope to advance the understanding of how the issue of gender diversity is presented on corporate websites, which is useful for both organizational decision makers as well as diversity researchers. We found that although gender diversity-related communications on corporate websites contain both assertive and defensive organizational impression management tactics, as well as a third type of tactic we refer to as “acknowledgement,” assertive tactics were used more frequently. We argue the existence of a paradox whereby organizations use assertive impression management tactics to maintain pragmatic legitimacy but compromise their moral legitimacy by doing so. Furthermore, we argue that moral legitimacy can be maintained or restored through the sincere use of defensive impression management tactics and acknowledgement.

Keywords: Gender Diversity, Impression Management, Corporate Websites, Employer Image, Gender Equality, Corporate Legitimacy

Read the full paper here.


The Paradox of Diversity Initiatives: When Organizational Needs Differ from Employee Preferences

Leon Windscheid, Lynn Bowes-Sperry, Jens Mazei, & Michèle Morner (2015, Journal of Business Ethics)

Abstract. Women are underrepresented in the upper echelons of management in most countries. Despite the effectiveness of identity conscious initiatives for increasing the proportion of women, many organizations have been reluctant to implement such initiatives because potential employees may perceive them negatively. Given the increasing competition for labor, attracting talent is relevant for the long-term success of organizations. In this study, we used an experimental design (N = 693) to examine the effects of identity blind and identity conscious gender diversity initiatives on people’s pursuit intentions toward organizations using them. We used counterfactual thinking, derived from fairness theory, as a guiding framework for our hypothesis development and investigated the moderating influence of a forthcoming government-mandated gender quota as well as individual characteristics (e.g., gender). Participants reviewed statements regarding workplace diversity initiatives and rated either the initiatives’ effectiveness or indicated their intentions to pursue employment with organizations using them. Of those rating pursuit intentions, half were informed that the country in which they were conducting their job search was about to implement gender quotas. Results indicated a diversity management paradox such that initiatives perceived as more effective made organizations using them less attractive as employers. However, these negative perceptions were mitigated by a government-mandated quota, and also lower among women. Implications for the study and practice of diversity are discussed.

Keywords: Diversity, Diversity Paradox, Gender Quota, Organizational Attractiveness, Pursuit Intentions

Read the full paper here.