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Displacement-plurality (D-P) in women refugees, its influence on work engagement and implications for diversity practice: a critical and reflective review

Varuni Wimalasiri (School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 3 August 2021

Issue publication date: 13 December 2022




Much of the current research on women refugees and work focuses solely on settlement, neglecting the effects of displacement within this equation, despite its significant impact. Drawing from the wider literature of international development, migration, gender, work psychology and sociology, this paper provides a framework to guide informed research within this area.


This paper is a reflective and critical review of the intersection between gender, forced displacement and work. It addresses a blind spot in the current work literature, which fails to address the impact of displacement on refugee women and the consequences of displacement for vocational engagement during resettlement.


This paper contributes to the current literature in four ways. First, it adds forced displacement to the peripheral-intersections literature informing Acker's theory of “inequality regimes”. Secondly, it contributes to a deeper understanding of how pluralities and intersectionality develop during forced displacement, by introducing the theory of displacement-plurality (D-P). Thirdly, it contributes to human resource management (HRM) diversity practice by explaining the relationship between D-P and related constructs, such as work engagement (WE), economic empowerment (EE), work-related factors (WRFs) and psycho-social factors (PSFs) to help improve localised diversity practices in relation to refugee populations. Fourthly, it provides a detailed framework to guide research and practice in this area, supported by a critical evaluation of the current refugee work literature.


When we understand displacement-related factors, we can move towards a more emancipatory approach to intersectionality, allowing us to develop more sophisticated approaches to diversity in organisations. In turn, this helps us to understand people's lived experiences and their responses to organisational interventions more effectively.



The author would like to thank the refugee communities and stakeholders assisting with work‐related integration in the South of England, for sharing with the author their personal insights and experiences of the vocational lives of women refugees in the UK. The author would also like to acknowledge the following funders for supporting this work: (2017-2018) ‘Women’s Work‐ Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs programme start up grant, part funded by a Big Lottery grant (LPA‐000 000 6543; (2018‐2019) ‘Employment of women refugees in the Southwest of England’ QR funding from Bournemouth University. The author would like to thank the reviewers for their thoughtful and well‐considered comments.


Wimalasiri, V. (2022), "Displacement-plurality (D-P) in women refugees, its influence on work engagement and implications for diversity practice: a critical and reflective review", Personnel Review, Vol. 51 No. 9, pp. 2061-2080.



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