Hennekam, S., Bacouel-Jentjens, S. Yang, I., (2019)
The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of the multilevel factors that influence the way in which an organization approaches ethnic diversity management in France. Syed and Özbilgin’s (2009) relational framework was adopted to understand and contextualize ethnic diversity management in a car manufacturing company in France. Syed and Özbilgin’s (2009) relational framework was adopted to understand and contextualize ethnic diversity management in France. This framework adopts a contextual and multilevel conceptualisation of diversity management, distinguishing between macro-, meso- and micro-level factors of diversity. This relational perspective highlights the inter-related nature of the multilevel factors and develops an integrated and contextual approach to diversity management.
This case study presents an analysis of the micro-, meso- and macro-factors that influence the way in which a French car manufacturing company approaches ethnic diversity management. The organization employed more than 57,000 employees. In total, 5.2 percent of the workforce was of foreign nationality. The organization adopted the French Diversity Charter in 2004. This charter consists of a voluntary moral commitment that encourages organizations to promote and respect workplace diversity. By signing this charter, organizations are committed to combat discrimination and put in place diversity policies (Klarsfeld et al., 2012).
In total, 37 semi-structured in-depth interviews with employees of different hierarchical levels in a French organization have been conducted and analyzed using the Gioia method. Drawing on semi-structured in-depth interviews with employees and managers of different positions in a car manufacturing company, the present case study aimed to shed light on the different factors that influence the way ethnic diversity is approached in France. The findings show that societal, organizational and individual factors mutually influence one another and provide together a complex picture of why ethnic diversity has received relatively little attention from scholars and practitioners alike. Factors on macro- and meso-level interact in a way that overlooks the difficult situation of ethnic minorities in the workplace, especially women. However, the findings also stress that it is on individual level that resilience and agency can be expressed, which means that despite the perceived barriers on societal and organizational level, ethnic minorities are motivated to improve the way they are treated in organizations.
Ethnic minorities are an understudied dimension of diversity management in organizations. The findings underscore the importance of the intersection of ethnicity and gender as this affects the career development possibilities and daily work experience of ethnic minority women. Our contribution is twofold. First, we add to a growing body of critical diversity studies. Critical diversity studies (Hennekam et al., 2017; Zanoni et al., 2010) have criticized mainstream diversity management research on three grounds: a positivist ontology based on notions of a fixed identity, an inadequate theorization of power and the minimal place given to the influences of context. In this paper we focus on the role of contextual influences and therefore use a case study approach as such a methodology allows for a detailed and context-dependent analysis. Second, we make a theoretical contribution by not only showing strong support for Syed and Özbilgin’s relational framework, but by highlighting the important role of the intersection of ethnicity and gender on micro-level. Our case study identifies a range of factors on macro-, meso- and micro-level that influence the way in which an organization approaches ethnic diversity management in France. in the absence of clear laws and regulations on societal level, it is important that organizations formulate diversity-related guidelines where the different rights and obligations of all parties are outlined. Such guidelines will help managers deal with ethnic diversity and handle this in a coherent and fair manner. Such guidelines must be accepted and embraced by all parties, which implies that extensive discussion and collaboration are necessary to avoid perceptions of injustice (Cropanzano and Stein, 2009).