Guest editorial: Ineffectiveness of diversity management: lack of knowledge, lack of interest or resistance?

Tania Saba, Mustafa Ozbilgin, Eddy Ng, Gaëlle Cachat-Rosset
2021 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion  
Societies have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure that historically underrepresented groups do not face discrimination and enjoy the same socioeconomic opportunities as majority groups. In the West, laws have been passed to address the discrimination that many demographic groups, including women, people of colour, persons with disabilities, mature workers and individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S þ) have long faced in the
more » ... Over the past decade, the rhetoric around equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) has intensified in various forums. The importance of EDI and the benefits of imprinting it on the DNA of organizations are being repeatedly and insistently touted. Policy makers, organizations, unions and civil society are actively working to institutionalize equity, diversity and inclusion norms and practices in the workplace. Despite all the research efforts and organizational and policy initiatives to promote diversity, inequalities persist. Workplaces claim to be paying more attention to diversity, yet the results are not forthcoming. Institutional and organizational change processes are often uneven and contested, producing both positive and negative outcomes: reinforcing or reducing inequalities, worsening or improving working conditions, increasing or reducing power asymmetries between actors, or making workplaces more or less inclusive, democratic and participatory. It is clear that in many ways, institutions and organizations are not effective at addressing the challenges of creating a diverse workforce. This is the first of two special issues that emanate from a discussion that emerged at the 2018 EDI Conference where scholars explored the advances, setbacks, drifts and transformations brought about by strategies and actions to promote equity, diversity and inclusion. In this first issue, we examine, through different lenses, the social, organizational and individual reactions to the implementation of EDI strategies and actions. We have selected articles that cover a variety of themes. Taken together, they broaden and deepen our understanding of the foundations of EDI and provide an analysis of the impact of its practices and policies, which have been developed by actors from different organizations and at different levels. The 21st century is well-underway, with a workforce that reflects socio-demographic diversity, and an economy whose growth depends on the ability to harness the potential of each and every individual. However, the reality only serves to illustrate the failure of social, organizational and individual goals and capacities to make EDI a cornerstone of economic and social development. While efforts made to promote EDI seem to be substantial, the results failed to meet the intended goals and the lived experiences of those who are marginalized remain dismay. Although the reasons for this failure are difficult to pinpoint, our research has revealed three trends that seem to impede progress on achieving EDI in the workplace. First, there is a lack of knowledge and expertise when it comes to designing and implementing EDI programmes. Many managers conscripted to implement EDI initiatives are ill equipped and lack the preparation necessary to make meaningful and material improvements. Second, there is strong resistance to EDI initiatives emanating from a fear of losing power and privilege by
doi:10.1108/edi-09-2021-374 fatcat:lxu4m36u2jhj7eueo4s4rdbftq