Understanding the dynamics of careers and identities through multiple strands of equality and diversity

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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 16 August 2011


Bourne, D., Inal, G. and Karataş-Ozkan, M. (2011), "Understanding the dynamics of careers and identities through multiple strands of equality and diversity", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 30 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/edi.2011.03030faa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Understanding the dynamics of careers and identities through multiple strands of equality and diversity

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Equality Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, Volume 30, Issue 6

Inequalities based on gender, age, ethnicity, disability or sexuality are still persistent in organizational practices while a dominant perception and heightened awareness of equality exist at the same time. In this special issue we have sought to address career experiences and related identity development of individuals in organisations by taking into account multiple strands of equality and diversity including gender, age, disability, ethnicity, sexuality, and religion. Following a stream at the Second Equal Opportunities International Conference that was held in 2009 in Istanbul, we have announced a call for papers for the current special issue and invited papers that examine the intersectionality of factors which might affect the nature of career experiences, opportunities and constraints that face individuals. Gendered practices of career making and power-based gendering processes underpinning the career and identity development have been identified as relevant themes. Triggers for and impediments to developing a career trajectory by ethnic minority men and women, young people, disabled people, and gay men and lesbian women form crucial areas to explore in this subject domain. Multi-level examination of the subject (i.e. national effects, discourse effects, sectoral effects, organizational effects, and individual effects) and different theoretical and methodological approaches have been encouraged in developing the special issue.

The first paper of the special issue focuses on the agency of gay men and lesbians in constructing different types of workplace friendships as a resource for developing managerial identities and careers. In his article entitled “Minority support: friendship and the career experiences of gay and lesbian managers”, Nick Rumens argues that taking gay men and lesbians as a focal point of analysis is particularly revealing of the role played by friendship in helping individuals to pursue and overcome impediments to career and identity making in the workplace. Drawing on an empirical research grounded in a social constructionist paradigm, his paper highlights the perspectives and experiences of lesbians and gay men in contrast with previous studies, which tend to concentrate on minority employees in terms of gender, race and ethnicity. His findings reveal that gay and lesbian managers construct workplace friendships with specific individuals to particular ends, mainly in order for helping them to integrate into work environments, including those that privilege idealised forms of heterosexuality. In this paper, Rumens illuminates the capacity of lesbians and gay men to incorporate themselves within heteronormative work environments. The nub of his argument is that gay and lesbian sexualities can be understood as a valuable resource in the context of developing managerial careers and identities in organisations. He offers useful insights for academic researchers and practitioners.

The paper authored by Olca Surgevil and Evrim Mayaturk Akyol is the second paper presented in this special issue. Their paper, which is entitled “Discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in the workplace: Turkey context”, brings the importance of another strand of equality and diversity to the fore. Their emphasis is on the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in work life. Surgevil and Mayaturk have measured the information and awareness level of HR managers and employees, and examined their attitudes and behaviours towards PLHIV in the workplace with an ultimate objective to identity issues surrounding the career development of PLHIV in organisations in general, in the national and cultural context of Turkey in particular, drawing on an empirical research with a sample drawn from the members of the association of HR managers (PERYON) in Turkey. Given the dearth of research in this area, their study makes a significant contribute to the field by generating insights into the employment and career experiences of PLHIV taking into account the social and cultural dynamics at the macro-environmental level. Surgevil and Mayaturk recommend effective training programmes and diversity management initiatives to raise awareness for the overall experiences of PLHIV, and tackle discrimination and inequality encountered by such individuals in organisations.

The third paper is by Roger Johnston and Orthodoxia Kyriacou. The title of this paper is “Exploring inclusion, exclusion and ethnicities in the institutional structures of UK accountancy” and the focus is on exploring the process of unfair discrimination experienced by ethnic minority women of this professional group. It contributes to our understanding of accountancy experiences, through prioritising and giving importance to the individual voice which has until recently remained silent. The study draws on oral history accounts; it provides rich texts of the complex and often subtle ways in which unfair discrimination is exercised in accounting organisations. The field work of the study relies on 39 semi-structured oral history interviews, in which the experiences of participants from 11 interviews are presented in the paper. The participants’ accounts are contextualised within two bodies of literature; the first links individual experiences with wider institutions, the second provides studies of accountancy profession and accounting work with particular reference to class, closure, ethnicity and gender. The findings of the study reveal that the narrative themes illustrate the intersection of gender, ethnicity and identity across institutional structures, and also there are varying degrees of inclusion and exclusion are evident in the accountancy workplace. In terms of the study’s practical implications the author argues that the voice of the individual needs to be taken into consideration by the institutions which form UK accountancy in order to facilitate equality and diversity.

The fourth paper entitled “Gendered forms of othering in the UK hospital medicine: nostalgia as resistance against the modern doctor” is authored by Maria Tsouroufli, Mustafa Özbilgin and Merryn Smith; and it takes us to another context, which is the health service sector in the UK. They investigate the gender implications of nostalgic discourses for all hours of training and availability and full-time commitment. In the study they illustrate how senior hospital doctors constitute the professional self within a context of modernisation and feminisation, and keep out junior doctors through gendered processes of othering. The narratives of 20 senior National Health Service (NHS) doctors are explored drawing on literature on nostalgia, gender, identity and organisations. They argue that nostalgia has been a strategy for resistance to ongoing modernisation and feminisation of the NHS. In addition, the authors highlight the fact that special attention should be given to individual differences, personal agendas and positions of power of those engaging in collective resistance. Furthermore, they argue that a rejection of long hour’s culture and gendered notions of the ideal worker are necessary for successful modernisation, equality and diversity in the NHS.

In the next paper entitled “Multi-layered analysis of Turkish Cypriot female solicitors’ career trajectory in North London”, Gözde İnal and Mine Karataş-Özkan investigate career experiences of Turkish Cypriot women solicitors in Britain by emphasising situated and layered nature of careers. In particular, they examine the choices related to employment or self-employment by adopting a critical realist approach considering the macro-contextual and micro-agentic aspects of Turkish Cypriot women’s career development. The paper draws on rich empirical cases and reveals the way in which macro and micro effects are responsible for the polarisation of opportunities in the ethnic enclaves which according to the authors denote more than a geographical location in the case of these Turkish Cypriot women. The paper argues that we cannot talk of ethnic enclaves in positive or negative terms, without considering layered individual experience. There are also some industry/sector-based effects that need to be taken into account. Law, as a profession, paves opportunities for self-employment as a viable career option for individual agents. Therefore, employment and self-employment decisions are also layered and can be explained by looking into macro-contextual and micro-individual aspects.

In the last paper entitled “Towards a theoretical framework for knowledge transfer in the field of CSR and sustainability”, Katerina Nicolopoulou explores the knowledge transfer processes involved in CSR and sustainability programs from a “developed country” to a “developing country/emergent economy” context. She highlights three aspects of the knowledge transfer activity in particular: the “thinking”, the “doing” and the “being”. These aspects refer to a number of diversity issues implied within the activity of knowledge transfer. The paper is a theoretical interdisciplinary study, which combines insights from the theory of knowledge transfer, the application domain and theory of CSR and sustainability as well as various strands of HRM literature, such as aspects of diversity, career identity and career development, as well as talent management and their related processes. The paper takes an innovative angle to the topic of knowledge transfer by focusing on the specific case of CSR and sustainability. It emphasises the importance of knowledge workers with global mobility as key agents in such knowledge transfer endeavours, and the specific ways in which they perceive their career identities and development, as key enablers in such a context.

Scholarship in career studies and diversity management, particularly at the intersection of careers and diversity, has generated a large body of research recently (Bourne and Özbilgin, 2008; Malach-Pines and Kaspi-Baruch, 2008; Tanova et al., 2008; Fearfull and Kamenou, 2010; Enache et al., 2011; North-Samardzic and Taksa, 2011). Collectively, the papers in this special issue highlight the importance of research on understanding dynamics of career and identity development through multiple strands of equality and diversity and raise a range of interesting theoretical and empirical questions. We hope that the special issue will stimulate debate in the field and generate useful discussions in order to advance the scholarly activity.

Dorota Bourne, Gozde Inal, Mine Karataş-ÖzkanGuest Editors


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Fearfull, A. and Kamenou, N. (2010), “Work and career experiences of ethnic minority men and women”, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 325–31

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