The purpose of this paper is to explore how UK black professionals construct and negotiate ethnic/gender identities at work.
Separate semi‐structured focus groups for three females and four males are used.
Ethnicity, gender and their intersection play important roles in identity construction of black UK professionals, who frequently encounter identity‐challenging situations as they interact with explicit and implicit models of race and stereotyping. Males use agentic strategies to further their careers, drawing strength from “black men” identities. Women are less agentic, reframing challenging episodes to protect/restore their identity.
This study helps understanding of workplace experiences of UK black professionals beyond entry level. Several years after graduation, they still engage frequently in identity work, facing stereotyping and expectations based on intersecting gender and ethnic social categories. The paper shows how aspects of “black identity” provide a resource that supports career progress. Main limitation is small sample size.
People managing diverse professionals and HRM specialists need to recognize how much identity work (e.g. frequently countering stereotyping) has to be done by black professionals in cultures that do not value diversity. As they gain access to senior positions, this will be increasingly an issue for talent retention.
This paper provides some rich understanding about identity construction of black male professionals, an under researched group. This paper extends the work on ethnic minority females, comparing them with male peers. It is shown that minority groups are not homogeneous, but may undergo different workplace experiences and adopt different strategies, drawing on various aspects of the generic “black identity”. This has implications for how organizational diversity is understood, managed and researched.
Atewologun, ’. and Singh, V. (2010), "Challenging ethnic and gender identities: An exploration of UK black professionals’ identity construction", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 332-347. https://doi.org/10.1108/02610151011042394Download as .RIS
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