Male entrepreneurs are less likely than candidates without any entrepreneurial background to be invited for an interview.
Research by London Business School has revealed that HR managers and recruiters at larger companies view male business founders as too independent-minded and non-compliant when set against female candidates to be worth interviewing. They were also considered to be inflexible and unlikely to remain at the company for a lengthy period.
However, female founders did not suffer the same rejection rate. They were significantly more likely to be called for an interview than their male counterparts, although there was only a marginal difference in the success of female founders and those who had not founded their own business.
Olenka Kacperczyk, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at LBS, said that female founders were perceived as being more adaptable, committed employees and less independently-minded.
She said: “Entrepreneurship is a masculine activity and women are not associated with it. We are showing that there is a bias.”
Statistics show that only 40% of new businesses survive for more than five years, so many would-be entrepreneurs decide to re-enter employment.
Sex equality at work
“There is a penalty for founders,” said Kacperczyk. “They are not seen as being committed or a good cultural fit. There is a real career cost of entrepreneurship for those that go back to employment.”
Kacperczyk’s study was conducted with the University of Oregon in the US and involved sending out 1,223 CVs to employers hiring for marketing or HR managers and directors in a range of industries across 12 cities. None of the roles required a cover letter.
Each employer received applications from two candidates who had worked for an equal number of years, at similar positions, for a large employer. One had then left to found their own business, which employed between ten and 12 people, while the other chose employment with similar responsibilities at another company.
The researchers followed up the survey by asking 425 hiring managers to review the CVs, identifying who they would hire and asking for reasons why candidates were turned down.