Organizational Learning and Diversity Management: Uncovering the Dominance of Whiteness in Organizations

Ms Anne Parsons
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Responsibility for diversity management in UK organizations is increasingly shifting from HR departments to Line Managers. The majority of managers are white and senior managers are mostly both white and male. Whilst women have increased representation in middle management roles, at senior levels of management there is still a gender gap, although white women have increased representation in managerial roles over black women, Asian women and women from ethnic minority groups. As white people are more likely to have responsibility for diversity management, it is somewhat puzzling as to why the issues of white identities and whiteness have attracted only a small amount of research attention. The process of unpacking the meaning of 'race' in terms of whiteness can reveal what is often hidden, such as, privileges continually afforded white people in organizations. The notion of institutionalised racism, in which behaviour is often unconscious, where practices and routines are unquestioned and taken for granted leads to the conclusion that learning new ways of functioning in organizations is necessary. Therefore an organizational framework has been developed. It is derived in part from a psycho social model of learning, a gestalt model of learning and in conjunction with data collected from interviewees using reflexive dialogical inquiry. The framework considers the unconscious aspects of behaviour and incorporates the following influences which have been found to impact upon learning: context, history, psychology, social, power and emotion. The application of an organizational learning framework to diversity management could yield knowledge that can be utilised strategically for training and development, recruitment and selection and policy development.

Keywords: Organizational learning, Diversity Management, Whiteness, White Identities, Institutionalised Racism
Stream: Organisations, Learning, Education, Training
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Organizational Learning and Diversity Management

Ms Anne Parsons

Ph. D. Student and Tutor, Management Learning Department Management School , Lancaster University

I am a white woman with ten years of employment experience in Social Work, which included the management of a young persons remand and challenging behaviour unit for a London Local Authority, working with clients and staff from diverse cultural backgrounds and life circumstances. The work necessitated the application of anti oppressive practice. During this employment, I acted as a Practice Teacher for students of the Dip. in Social Work who were on practice based placements within the residential home. Other employment experiences include; two years experience as a Project Evaluator and Consultant for a Mental Health project; University Lecturer for Birkbeck College, FCE, teaching the following courses; Self-Development for Managers, the Learning Organization, Social Psychology and Psychology. My Academic Background: BSc in Psychology at University of London and MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology at London School of Economics and Political Science; Currently pursuing a Ph. D. in Management Learning at Lancaster University Management School.

Ref: D05P0114