The Devil is in the details: A feminist inquiry into diversity initiatives within the Swedish Private Sector

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för kulturvetenskaper

Abstract: Diversity and gender equality are key buzzwords within the private sector in Sweden. The aim of my thesis was to interrogate how diversity is understood within the private sector in Sweden and identify key motivations for its popularity. I also sought to understand how those who embody diversity experience and understand discourses around diversity and gender equality.The research was conducted in Stockholm, where I worked as a diversity worker from February to June 2016 with a diversity consulting company. The research adopted mixed methodologies, which included partial participant observation at one public event in may 2016, work as a diversity consultant as method, document analysis and semi structured interviews with four diversity managers and three racialized women who provided their insights that have shaped the research.My findings reveal that diversity is conceptualized in a number of ways; it can be seen as a fluffy term that encompasses all and everything; it can signify an appreciation of difference and it is can also be seen as a strategy to challenge inequality, there is no uniform agreement which allows it to remain fluid and loose. I argue that the fluid nature of diversity makes it unable to challenge what Joan Acker calls ‘inequality regimes’ within organizations which create gendered, classed and racial hierarchies in the workplace. Its failure to address power hierarchies and undertake intersectionality as a method of inquiry renders it weak. The research makes visible the experiences of those who embody ‘diversity’ by highlighting the experiences of racialized women in the labour market and their multiple identities. The research reveals the ways that social inequalities position them within the labour market and the strategies they adopt to overcome these inequalities.

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