Discourses, Methods and Practices of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging: Towards a Global Shared Framework
edited by Dr. Fadia Nordtveit (Springfield College) and Dr. Paola Catenaccio (Università degli Studi di Milano).
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) have become key frameworks in global businesses and organizations to create pathways of sustainable change. This process has been driven by “globalisation, changing demographic trends and discourses around the role of corporations in society and in societal governance”, all of which have contributed to push[ing] organizations to put both CSR [corporate social responsibility] and diversity management (DM) onto the agenda” (Hansen and Seierstad 2017: 2). This paradigm in society and organizations had long been in the making, but now requires innovative, sustainable solutions.
Despite their growing recognition as key values, DEI, and, increasingly, DEIB, remain largely underdetermined in both organizational theory and practice. Often the notions of diversity and inclusion have been the object of critical discussion (Adamson et al. 2021), and the way in which they are deployed in corporate communications have been extensively scrutinized. The notions of equity and belonging, on the other hand, has only more recently gained centrality, and in-depth investigations of its conceptualisation and implementation are scarce. Moreover, all four words are tied to different histories in different places that result in various definitions and contextual applications, all of them in constant evolution (Bernstein et al 2020).
Thus, while there is global consensus about the need to promote inclusive and sustainable change in the workplace and, more generally society, in actual fact “diversity, inclusion, and belonging on an individual basis take on different meanings depending on demographics, environment, and agenda” (Adejumo 2021: 62), with different constituencies having markedly different perspectives on what DEIB policies and actions should entail. This already complex scenario is further complicated by the fact that both actions and overall goals of DEIB policies are often the result of decisions taken at management level by a leadership that continues to be characterised by very limited internal diversity, and whose perspectives are therefore often – inevitably – constrained.
This can lead to even well-meaning initiatives to be accused of tokenism – a problem which might be avoided if policy makers took stock of the multiple discourses and perspectives ideally contributing to a shared definition of DEIB. Kimberle Crenshaw (2016) expresses the need for organizations to understand and apply intersectionality as a frame to achieve DEIB goals in a meaningful, foundational way. She says, “If you don't have a lens that's been trained to look at how various forms of discrimination come together, you're unlikely to develop a set of policies that will be as inclusive as they need to be.”
Starting from the recognition that DEIB discourse is polyphonic and intersectional in nature, and that such polyphony may involve competing assumptions and require extensive meaning negotiation, this special issue will explore the ways in which DEIB manifests in divergent spaces, places and contexts and interrogate the possibilities of a global shared framework on these intersectional concepts. Contributions are invited on the discourse and practices of DEIB in society and organizations. Proposals addressing the topic from a discourse-analytical perspective are especially welcome, as are empirical investigations, case studies, DEIB methodological explorations as well as action-research projects. Given the scope of the journal, proposals focusing on discursive constructions of DEIB, DEIB-related communications and analyses of verbal elicitations of DEIB conceptualisations are especially welcome.