35th EGOS Colloquium

Enlightening the Future:
The Challenge for Organizations


University of Edinburgh Business School

July 4–6, 2019

Edinburgh, United Kingdom




Sub-theme 46: Politics of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Work

Bärbel S. Traunsteiner
WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
Ahu Tatli
Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom
Eddy S. Ng
Dalhousie University, Canada

Call for Papers

In recent days, claims to alternative facts are presented as valid without any evidential support. In this post-truth era – characterized by hostility towards scientific evidence and expert knowledge – age old colonial, racist, misogynistic and homophobic attitudes surface and are rapidly disseminated through the media and irresponsible politicians, despite research evidence to the contrary (Ng & Stamper, 2018). This is a dangerous milieu of extreme relativism where diametrically oppose representations of reality are treated as similarly plausible. As equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) scholars, we are concerned that the knowledge base which has been painstakingly built through decades of work by feminist, queer, anti-racist, and anti-colonial scholars is being ignored and side lined; we are already seeing much of the civil rights gains being eroded or reversed (Ng, 2017). In this context, our sub-theme aims to unpack the political and contested nature of EDI at work and in organisations.
The challenges concerning EDI take multiple forms across different national, sectoral, and organizational contexts as a result of variations in make up of influential actors, histories and legacies of inequality and discrimination (Tatli et al., 2012). Still, research that puts the inherently political nature of EDI at its core is few and far between. Many studies of workforce equality and diversity focus on the organizational level, exploring the political context as a secondary background factor at best, or account for politics only in its traditional sense as a process of negotiation between employees, employers, and the government. Yet, the political context, political processes and the acts of politics making are central to shaping of equality, diversity and inclusion, instead of considering it at the periphery. Our subtheme aims to restore the central role of politics in understanding and engaging with EDI at work. We adopt a broad definition of politics to include the political processes of negotiation, power and legitimacy between institutional and organizational actors, as well as individual agents in the workplace. Politics making is seen as a process of struggle for gaining ownership of varied resources and hegemony over ‘legitimate naming’ (see Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992).
Politics-making, by individual and institutional actors with different levels of power and influence, shapes the ways in which EDI are defined (Bendl et al., 2014); how they are legitimized and/or rendered invisible through a variety of discourses, including the business case and ethical case one (Tatli, 2011; Zanoni & Janssens, 2007); the resultant measures undertaken by national policy makers and organizations range from inaction or passive compliance to more proactive policies of affirmative action (Ozbilgin & Tatli, 2011); and finally who is included and excluded, discriminated upon, or privileged at work (Ozturk, 2011).
In this sub-theme, we invite contributions which investigate politics of EDI enacted by multiple actors, at different levels, and in different geographical locations. Politics of EDI is performed by a broad range of actors including traditional industrial relations, equality bodies, management consultants, and training and development professionals, community based organizations and NGOs, social movement actors, supranational institutions, and individual employees. EDI politics also involves struggles and negotiations for legitimacy at different levels (e.g. national, sectoral, workplace, group, individual). Furthermore, political economy at global and national levels influences the way in which workforce equality and diversity evolve and transform (Colling & Dickens, 1998). Yet, trends in international political economy materialize in different shapes and degrees across the globe (Hall & Soskice, 2001). Still, the majority of what we know about workforce diversity and equality comes from the Global North whilst what EDI means and the politics of EDI are under-researched in other parts of the world. Therefore, our sub-theme encourages submissions that are sensitive to historical and contextual variation in the conduct of EDI politics.
We welcome conceptual and empirical papers that unpack the politics of EDI. The submissions may explore some of the following questions as well as others:

  • Who are (the key) actors of EDI politics? What are their interests, power, resources and strategies?

  • What are the overt and covert processes of EDI politics, including formation of alliances, lobbying, competition, conflict, negotiation and cooperation?

  • What is the impact of global economic, social and political trends on politics of EDI? How could we analyze and conceptualize resistance, change and co-optation in EDI politics?

  • What insights could we gain by researching politics of EDI in different national settings and through comparative and cross-cultural studies?

  • How are politics of EDI enacted at different levels including supra-national, international, national, sectoral, institutional, organization, intergroup, group, interpersonal, individual levels?

  • What is the utility of understanding politics of EDI at work on theoretical, methodological, practical, and policy grounds in current political eras?



  • Bendl, R., Danowitz, M.A., & Schmidt, A. (2014): “Recalibrating management: Feminist activism to achieve equality in an evolving university.” British Journal of Management, 25, 320–334.
  • Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. (1992): An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Colling, T., & Dickens, L. (1998): “Selling the case for gender equality: Deregulation and equality bargaining.” British Journal of Industrial Relations, 36, 389–411.
  • Hall, P., & Soskice, D. (2001): Varieties of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ng, E.S. (2017): “Editorial statement regarding recent policies from the Trump Administration.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 36 (2), 110.
  • Ng, E.S., & Stamper, C. (2018): “A Trump presidency and the prospect for equality and diversity.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 37 (1), 2–13.
  • Özbilgin, M., & Tatli, A. (2011): “Mapping out the field of equality and diversity: Rise of individualism and voluntarism.” Human Relations, 64, 1229–1258.
  • Ozturk, M.B. (2011): “Sexual orientation discrimination: Exploring the experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees in Turkey.” Human Relations, 64, 1099–1118.
  • Tatli, A. (2011): “A Multi-layered exploration of the diversity management field: Diversity discourses, practices and practitioners in the UK.” British Journal of Management, 22, 238–253.
  • Tatli, A., Vassilopoulou, J., Al Ariss, A., & Özbilgin, M. (2012): “The role of regulatory and temporal context in the construction of diversity discourses: The case of the UK, France and Germany.” European Journal of Industrial Relations, 18, 293–308.
  • Zanoni, P., & Janssens, M. (2007): “Minority Employees Engaging with (Diversity): Management: An Analysis of Control, Agency and Micro- Emancipation.” Journal of Management Studies, 44, 1371–1397.

Bärbel S. Traunsteiner is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Gender and Diversity in Organizations of WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. She was a visiting research fellowship recipient at the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico, and completed her doctoral studies in 2015, for which she was awarded with several research prizes. Bärbel’s main research interests are in the area of diversity in organization, diversity in health care systems and intersectional perspectives as gender and migration. One of her forthcoming publications is the book “Homosexual Women above 60 – Intersectionality, Life Conditions and Anti-Discrimination Strategies”.
Ahu Tatli is Professor of International Human Resource Management and the Director of the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity in the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London, UK. Her research explores intersectionality of disadvantage and privilege at work; inequality and discrimination in recruitment and employment; diversity management, agency and change in organizations. Ahu has widely published in edited collections, practitioner and policy outlets and international peer-reviewed journals, such as ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘British Journal of Management’, ‘Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences’, ‘European Journal of Industrial Relations’, ‘Entrepreneurship and Regional Development’, ‘Human Relations’, ‘Human Resource Management’, ‘International Business Review’, ‘International Journal of Human Resource Management’, and ‘International Journal of Management Reviews’.
Eddy S. Ng is the F.C. Manning Chair in Economics and Business and Professor of Organizational Behaviour at Rowe School of Business, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. His research focuses on managing diversity for organizational competitiveness, the changing nature of work and organizations, and managing an intergenerational workforce. Eddy has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He co-edited the “Research Handbook of International and Comparative Perspectives on Diversity Management” (2016), “International Handbook on Diversity Management at Work: Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment” (2014), and “Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation” (2012). He is Editor-in-Chief of ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ and an Associate Editor for ‘Personnel Review’.