Diversity in leadership positions and DEI policies

Diversity in leadership positions and DEI policies

Published Deadline Location
1 Nov 15 Feb Rotterdam

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Job description

This PhD position is to work with a team of researchers on a project about diversity in leadership positions, attitudes about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies and the effectiveness of these policies. Firms increasingly implement DEI policies to improve diversity in leadership positions. This is despite a lack of solid evidence on their effectiveness. We propose to provide the first comprehensive study of DEI policies in the Netherlands. First, we will document potential links between diversity in leadership and existence (or not) of DEI policies across firms. Second, we will investigate both employees' and firms' attitudes towards DEI policies using survey experiments. Third, we will use these findings to inform the design of optimal DEI policies and further test their effectiveness by conducting field experiments within organizations.

Job description
Women and minorities (such as workers from a different cultural or ethnic background than the majority of workers in a country) remain underrepresented in leadership positions in firms. Improving access of women and minorities to leadership positions would contribute to reducing inequalities on the labor market, which is an important societal goal. According to the “business case for diversity” argument, firms themselves would benefit from having more diversity in leadership positions. Some firms—often large multinationals—have embraced this argument and have implemented various diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies to achieve more diversity. However, research has found mixed results about the effectiveness of DEI policies. The ones that firms use most have even been found to be counterproductive, such as diversity or harassment training, controls on managerial decision-making to avoid discrimination, and grievance procedures for discrimination or harassment (Dobbin & Kalev, 2022). Globally, we still lack scientific knowledge on the barriers to effective DEI policies that improve the access of underrepresented groups to leadership positions. In the Netherlands, we also lack scientific knowledge about the types of policies that firms have implemented and about their effectiveness.

The PhD student will work in a team of researchers on large project that includes a threefold approach to study DEI policies in firms in the Netherlands. First, the team plans to document the link between diversity in leadership positions and the types of DEI policies implemented by firms in the Netherlands. We are particularly interested in studying heterogeneity across firms, using administrative data from the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS) and survey data of human resources managers in firms. Second, we plan to examine firms’ and employees’ attitudes towards DEI policies in the Netherlands using survey experiments. Gaining a better understanding of these attitudes can help design more effective policies to increase the representation of women and minorities in leadership positions. Third, we propose to use the findings of the first two approaches to inform the design of DEI policies and test the effectiveness of these policies by conducting field experiments within organizations. This threefold approach will yield much-needed credible evidence on how to improve representation of women and minorities in leadership positions.

In this project, we aim to answer three research questions:
  1. What types of DEI policies do firms implement, and what is the heterogeneity across firms?
  2. What are firms’ and workers’ attitudes about diversity in leadership positions and about DEI policies?
  3. Can more effective policies be designed and implemented?

Students interested in working on issues related to diversity in firms are strongly encouraged to apply.

Expected output
At least three publications are planned for this five-year research project. Our goal is to publish in top journals in economics or management.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


We welcome PhD candidates who aspire a career in research. To become one of our PhD candidates, you will need to be admitted to Erasmus School of Economics' graduate schools, the Tinbergen Institute or the Erasmus Research Institute in Management (ERIM).

Erasmus School of Economics’ admission requirements are:
  • MPhil or Research Master’s degree in Economics, Econometrics, Mathematics or Physics is preferred. Please upload your bachelor’s and master’s degree.
    • Candidates with an MSc or MA degree are required to successfully complete 1 year of courses at the graduate school they are part of (Research Qualifications at the Tinbergen Institute or courses at ERIM)
  • Excellent study results for both the bachelor’s and master’s degree. Please upload your transcript of records for the bachelor’s and master’s degree.
  • Interest in and strong motivation for scientific research explained in a statement of purpose.
  • GRE test is required for all entering PhD students. Valid GRE (revised) General Test results are required from all PhD applicants (all 3 sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing). Successful applicants typically perform among the top-10% of test-takers on the quantitative part of the GRE; applicants with a Q score below 160 will not be considered. The results should not be older than 5 years.
  • Excellent command of English. Applicants whose native language is not English are therefore required to demonstrate English proficiency by:
    • proof that the language of instruction of their entire university education (bachelor and master programme) was English, or
    • scoring at least 100 on the TOEFL iBT test or 7.5 on the IELTS test.
  • Two (academic) reference letters, preferably from a thesis supervisor or research project supervisor
  • Curriculum Vitae

Conditions of employment

We offer you an internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with excellent working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU).

The start date of this position is 01-09-2024 and you will be based at Campus Woudestein in Erasmus School of Economics (ESE). This position is for 1 fte - 1 fte FTE. The salary is dependent on your experience and knowledge and ranges from a minimum of € 2.770 to a maximum of € 3.539 gross per month (Scale PhD) on a fulltime basis (38 hours), in accordance with the CAO-NU.

Everything else we offer you, you can find below!


Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in its education and research, as expressed in our mission ‘Creating positive societal impact’. EUR is home to 3.700 academics and professionals and almost 33.000 students from more than 140 countries. Everything we do, we do under the credo The Erasmian Way – Making Minds Matter. We’re global citizens, connecting, entrepreneurial, open-minded, and socially involved. These Erasmian Values function as our internal compass and create EUR’s distinctive and recognizable profile. From these values, with a broad perspective and with an eye for diversity, different backgrounds and opinions, our employees work closely together to solve societal challenges from the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam. Thanks to the high quality and positive societal impact of our research and education, EUR can compete with the top European universities. www.eur.nl.

Faculty / Institute / Central service
Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) is a leading school in economics in the Netherlands. It has a strong international reputation and aims to do outstanding research. Moreover, it provides excellent education at the BA., MA. and Ph.D. levels. Much research at Erasmus School of Economics is policy relevant, has social impact, and offers a strong research culture, ample research resources, and comparatively low teaching loads.


  • PhD
  • Economics
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3862


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062PA, Rotterdam

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