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Diversity management meets downsizing: the case of a government department

Anne-marie Greene and [Gill Kirton]
Employee Relations, 33, 1, 22-39

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore what happens to organisational diversity management (DM) policies when the management focus has turned towards significantly reducing workforce numbers.

Design/methodology/approach – Findings from a qualitative case study research in one government department (PSO) is presented, and Dickens' three strategies for equality action as an analytical framework is used.

Findings – PSO provides an example of the ways in which the three equality strategies outlined by Dickens interact with and mediate each other, so that together they potentially provide a much stronger foundation for the DM agenda within the context of a downsizing process.

Research limitations/implications – The qualitative nature of the data makes generalisability to other organisations limited. In addition, case study fieldwork was not conducted during and after the downsizing exercise, however access to documentary data was available.

Practical implications – The importance of involvement of a variety of organisational stakeholders in DM policy is shown, as is the importance for DM sustainability of combining the business case with the legal case within a joint regulation framework.

Originality/value – This research offers an analysis of DM within a public sector organisation during the pre-downsizing phase of a restructuring exercise, and the ability to explore perceptions of a variety of organisational stakeholders, particularly line-managers, non-management employees and union representatives.