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Article
Publication date: 4 December 2019

Sarah V. Suiter and C. Danielle Wilfong

The purpose of this paper is to explore women’s experiences in one such social enterprise, and to analyze the ways in which this social enterprise supports and/or…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore women’s experiences in one such social enterprise, and to analyze the ways in which this social enterprise supports and/or undermines its employees’ health and well-being. Finding and keeping employment during recovery from addiction is a strong predictor of women’s ability to maintain sobriety and accomplish other important life goals. Many treatment organizations have programs that support job readiness and acquisition; however, less priority is placed on the quality of the workplaces and their consequences for continued health and well-being. Social enterprises that exist for the purpose of employing women in recovery have the potential to be health-promoting workspaces, but understanding how health is supported for this particular population is important.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides an ethnographic account of Light Collective, a social enterprise run by women in recovery from addiction. Data were collected through 2 years of participant observation, 38 interviews and 2 focus groups. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach.

Findings

Light Collective provides a health-promoting workplace by keeping barriers to employment low and making work hours and expectations individualized and flexible. Furthermore, the organization creates a setting in which work is developmentally nurturing, provides the opportunity for meaningful mastery and serves to build community amongst women who are often marginalized and isolated in more traditional contexts.

Originality/value

This study contributes to literature exploring the potential for social enterprises to create health-promoting workplaces by focusing the types of workplace commitments required to support a particularly vulnerable population. This study also explores some of the challenges and contradictions inherent in trying to create health-promoting work environments vis-à-vis the constraints of broader economic systems.

Details

Social Enterprise Journal, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-8614

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