Diversity management meets downsizing: the case of a government department

Anne‐marie Greene (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Gill Kirton (Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Publication date: 4 January 2011



The purpose of this paper is to explore what happens to organisational diversity management (DM) policies when the management focus has turned towards significantly reducing workforce numbers.


Findings from a qualitative case study research in one government department (PSO) is presented, and Dickens' three strategies for equality action as an analytical framework is used.


PSO provides an example of the ways in which the three equality strategies outlined by Dickens interact with and mediate each other, so that together they potentially provide a much stronger foundation for the DM agenda within the context of a downsizing process.

Research limitations/implications

The qualitative nature of the data makes generalisability to other organisations limited. In addition, case study fieldwork was not conducted during and after the downsizing exercise, however access to documentary data was available.

Practical implications

The importance of involvement of a variety of organisational stakeholders in DM policy is shown, as is the importance for DM sustainability of combining the business case with the legal case within a joint regulation framework.


This research offers an analysis of DM within a public sector organisation during the pre‐downsizing phase of a restructuring exercise, and the ability to explore perceptions of a variety of organisational stakeholders, particularly line‐managers, non‐management employees and union representatives.



Greene, A. and Kirton, G. (2011), "Diversity management meets downsizing: the case of a government department", Employee Relations, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 22-39. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425451111091636

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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