Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management
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Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management

Getting In, Getting On, Getting Out

Edited by Adelina M. Broadbridge and Sandra L. Fielden

Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management provides an international overview of current practice and theory surrounding gendered employment in management, illustrating the impact of gender on key stages of career development.
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Chapter 9: Inclusion and exclusion processes in the executive search business: an intersectional approach

Regine Bendl, Helga Eberherr and Angelika Schmidt


Executive search consultants, also called ‘headhunters’, play a crucial role in the filling of leadership positions (for example, Finlay and Coverdill, 1999; Faulconbridge et al., 2009). They support corporate decision-makers in identifying, evaluating and recruiting competent and suitable people for their top jobs. Thus, executive search consultants can also be considered as gatekeepers in elite labour markets (Faulconbridge et al., 2009; Dreher et al., 2011). In their four-stage relationship (profiling, long-listing, short-listing, decision-making; Taylor and Bergmann, 1987), the executive consultants and the clients must make a lot of explicit but also implicit far-reaching decisions in order to select the ‘best-fitting’ candidate for the job. Their task is to deal with consistent, contradictory as well as paradoxical elements in this process of selection. Decisions with regard to the qualification, skills, ability, knowledge and experience of the applicants are taken at the different stages of the whole selection process, but diversity dimensions – also considered as social categories, such as the gender of the applicant, his or her ethnicity, age, (dis)abilities, sexual orientation, as well as his or her religious beliefs – also seem to influence the decisions taken in the executive search process.

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