Beyond the Numbers Game: Examining Workplace Diversity on the Ground — ASN Events

Beyond the Numbers Game: Examining Workplace Diversity on the Ground (18302)

Sandy Lee

With the growing diversity in contemporary workplaces, and the proliferation of diversity policies that support it, there is an assumption that its efforts to create equal and inclusive work environments have been realised. The mere numbers game, however, does not necessarily equate to an equal playing field and can, instead, conceal inequalities and injustices. Diversity is negotiated in the everyday encounters and necessary interactions that take place with different others in the workplace. These interactions scaffold the performances of work and are underpinned by complex relations of power. In this paper, I engage feminist methods and theory with emotional geography to argue for the importance in examining the lived reality of diversity as it plays out in intercultural interactions in professional multicultural workplaces. Such an approach is necessary given the normalised requirements of workers to perform ‘bodywork’ and ‘emotional labour’ in contemporary workplaces. It can reveal how intersecting subject positions of gender, ethnicity, age, class and professional rank influence the expressions of diversity for differently positioned individuals in their interactions. The insight that can be gained from this feminist and emotional analysis of workplace encounters is key to understanding how workers’ subjectivities and the place of work are simultaneously constructed and shape the experiences of diversity on the ground. This has much to offer both feminist geographical discourse and workplace diversity policies in advancing their agendas.