Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 2 2004, page 56-70.
English resume

Dilemmas in times of change

Three companies working towards diversity

Kirsten Slots, Lise Berg Johannsen og Else Schantz Juutilainen

The integration of ethnic minorities on the labour marked continues to be a problem.

In this article we discuss the use of both integration policies and diversity management by three Danish companies: Coop Denmark, ISS and IKEA. Our discussion is based on discourse analysis.

We focus here upon problems and dilemmas in company policy and upon strategies for improving job opportunities for ethnic minorities. How do the companies cope with barriers facing ethnic minorities and what is the outcome of their policies?

A discourse analysis of both company staff policy and interviews with management reveals that equal opportunity strategies, legal equalities and de facto equalities are central issues of conflict in these companies. There is a clear dilemma between two interests: on the one hand the rights of the individual regarding integrity and diversity, and on the other hand the principle that all employees should be treated equally.

Placing employees in categories can lead to stigmatizing of certain groups. This has in one company resulted in an attempt to change discoursive practice by avoiding the use of language associated with ethnicity in its daily communication. The analysis underlines a dilemma inherent in this strategy, as it may be necessary to favour groups whose skills and qualifications fail to match the majority.



Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)


 

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