The purpose of this paper is to explore the capacities of different groups of actors, who initiate, support, and control (known as equal opportunity actors) equal opportunities and equal treatment in organizations in Austria.
Based on the concept of social positioning and a qualitative empirical approach, the paper provides an analysis of data deriving from 32 interviews with equal opportunity actors.
The main findings show that, depending on individual commitment, knowledge and abilities, equal opportunity actors have the capacity to influence official equal opportunity policies and to prohibit individual cases of discrimination. However, there are strong restrictions concerning a limited understanding of gender, an ignorance of more subtle forms of the practising of gender and acceptance of the gendered understructure of organizations.
The study relates to the Austrian labour relations system which is rather similar to the German system, but can hardly be transferred to other countries.
The analysis of capacities and restrictions of single actors within organizations may be of general interest.
The paper explores a nearly fully ignored aspect of equal opportunity policies which is crucial for their success or failure.
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