How Your ‘Pedigree’ Prejudices Your Employer

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Who gets the top jobs in America? A new book says people who look like the people who already have them. We’ll investigate.

Students browse the offerings at the University of Toronto's 2014 Career Fair. (Aversan / Flickr)
Students browse the offerings at the University of Toronto's 2014 Career Fair. (Aversan / Flickr)

Lauren Rivera wants to understand how and why American elites keep reproducing themselves. Social and economic mobility in the US anow trail much of Europe's. Concentration of wealth at the top is up. We have no titled aristocracy. No formal entitlement. We love our up-by-the-bootstraps, Horatio Alger stories. But American elites keep reproducing themselves from the same pool. Rivera has gone deep on hiring at top firms. Looking at how and why elites hire elites with such consistency. She’s with us. This hour On Point: "Pedigree." Who gets the top jobs in America, and why.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Lauren Rivera, professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Author of the new book, "Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs."

William Goodloe, president and CEO of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity.

David Hassell, CEO and founder of the startup 15Five, an employee feedback system. (@dhassell)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Guess Who Doesn't Fit In At Work — "When done carefully, selecting new workers this way can make organizations more productive and profitable. But cultural fit has morphed into a far more nebulous and potentially dangerous concept. It has shifted from systematic analysis of who will thrive in a given workplace to snap judgments by managers about who they’d rather hang out with. In the process, fit has become a catchall used to justify hiring people who are similar to decision makers and rejecting people who are not."

The Atlantic: Recruitment, Resumes, Interviews: How The Hiring Process Favors Elites — "As income inequality in the U.S. strikes historic highs, many people are starting to feel that the American dream is either dead or out of reach. Only 64 percent of Americans still believe that it’s possible to go from rags to riches, and, in another poll, 63 percent said they did not believe their children would be better off than they were. These days, the idea that anyone who works hard can become wealthy is at best a tough sell."

TechCrunch: Why A Values Fit Matters More Than A Culture Fit — "A company with a strong culture has a much better chance at long-term success than one that lacks this sense of cohesion. But having a culture should not be an excuse for excluding employees with different backgrounds, points of view or working styles. A true company culture is about shared values, not hiring a homogenous group of employees of the same gender, race or pedigree. That means finding the best employees requires looking for a values fit more than a cultural fit."

Read An Excerpt Of "Pedigree" By Lauren Rivera

This program aired on June 9, 2015.


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