Gender in managing diversity: encouraging students to do gender analysis
ESADE, People Management and Organization Department
Managing Diversity and Inclusion
This case study describes the role of gender in an elective course on Managing Diversity and Inclusion for BBA students. Over the course, Students are required to analyse data on different dimensions or categories of diversity in contemporary societies and organisations and their organisational policies and proposed practices. Using critical analysis, we will identify the gap between existing policies and those required to achieve equality and full participation of employees in organisational life. Students, working in teams, will propose policies and specific actions to address this gap between rhetoric and reality effectively. Gender is one of the categories analysed, and most teams choose gender as one of the two dimensions of their project.
This course is an opportunity for individual development and teamwork, with students coming from different cultural backgrounds. As well as BBA students from the international BBA at ESADE, about half (or more) of the 30 participants come from exchange programs of different educational institutions. Students work in teams of five and learn about how gender and other diversity categories are experienced and addressed in different countries. It should be noted that teamwork requires collective thinking, building on the ideas and knowledge of the different members of the team and including them in the common project.
Links between diversity and innovation are discussed. It is often assumed that diversity in teams leads to innovation and students can discuss if this is a the case. Students have an opportunity to analyse their own behaviour in teams. While respecting the privacy of what individuals decide to share about their own personality and personal views and opinions, teamwork offers an opportunity for learning about oneself and others.
How is Gender integrated in this Research
Gender is addressed as one of the categories to be analysed when addressing Diversity, Equality and inclusion in organisations. From the very begging, most of the students choose gender as one of the dimensions, but the course requires to address also other diversity categories. Participants are required to Identify the different dimensions or categories of diversity (race/ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, age, language and culture, socio-economic status, ideology, religion or beliefs, rural/urban background and gender, among other) and distinguish these dimensions from others used in the organisational context such as professional background, attitude and behaviour in the workplace, etc. The course offers participants the opportunity to understand and correctly use the concept of intersectionality.
The diversity of backgrounds offers students information and experiences on gender that differ worldwide. Last (2021-22) editions included students from USA, Canada, Japan, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Portugal, Colombia, Brazil, Germany, and Romania, among others. The composition of the course changes in each edition, depending on the students that choose the elective. This diversity offers participants a richness of experiences and helps them to have a more acquainted and nuanced perspective of how gender is experienced and how different approaches may be needed to address gender equality in different parts of the world.
What could be done differently
The course does not only focus on gender – while this allows a more nuanced understanding, as indicated above, it results in a limitation of time dedicated to this dimension. This could be addressed by creating a new elective, “Gender in organisations”, which could also address other relevant categories of diversity, but in which gender would have the central role.
Key Learning Points
There is not enough academic material created in different parts of the world about gender (and about other diversity categories). Appropriate readings are available in English (ex: Harvard Business Review short readings or explainer videos), and most of them report Anglo-Saxon and Western Perspectives. It is challenging to find appropriate readings and cases about gender from other non-Western Perspectives. The same happens with examples taken from the news. Since English is the language of the course, the examples are limited to the press in English. Even when some media examples of different non-English speaker countries are selected (what is done often), these are in English (Ex: the Korean Times, The Indian Times, The Nigerian Times). These media are already originally “produced” in English, which is already a distortion of the information reported. There are not (enough) sources produced in the language of the country (“created” from that country’s perspective) translated into English. A western lens, in many of the available materials, is nearly impossible to overcome.
Resources to explore
Netflix and other fiction materials written and produced from different cultural perspectives offer a source to explore.