Katharina Bader (Northumbria University, UK)
Lena Knappert (VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Mila Lazarova (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
Eddy Ng (Queen's University, Canada)
Gender equity and equality (i.e., giving the same opportunities to men and women and supporting them according to their specific needs) are among the grand global challenges as women comprise 50% of the world's population and its human capital (United Nations, 2019). From an economic perspective, if managed effectively, increased gender equity and equality can enhance team and organizational performance (Hoogendoorn, Oosterbeek, & Van Praag, 2013; Roh & Kim, 2016). From a moral imperative, gender equity and equality contribute to women's opportunity to succeed in business and society (Seierstad, 2016). Yet, although gender is among the most frequently addressed diversity dimensions, the progress towards gender equity and equality in business and society has been described as "stubborn" (Gavett & Perry, 2019) and "stalled" (Sandberg & Thomas, 2018).
To foster change, many organizations implement gender diversity management (GDM), defined as human resource practices aimed at improving gender equity and equality at work (Martins & Parsons, 2007). GDM covers a comprehensive spectrum of initiatives including targeted gender recruitment, gender blind selection, anti-discrimination/equal employment opportunity programs, mentoring, professional development, and work-family friendly policies among others (Ali, Metz, & Kulik, 2015; Beck, 2005; Kalev, Dobbin, & Kelly, 2006; Olsen, Parsons, Martins, & Ivanaj, 2016). To be effective, research indicates that GDM needs to be context-sensitive as each country exhibits a unique socio-political context regarding the role of women in organizations and society that affects the acceptance, implementation, and outcomes of GDM (Hennekam, Tahssain-Gay, & Syed, 2017; Klarsfeld, 2010; Özbilgin, Syed, Ali, & Torunoglu, 2012). The need for such contextual understanding is particularly salient in multinational corporations (MNCs) as their operations span across different contexts and they may face severe barriers and resistance when implementing global approaches to GDM (Alhejji, Ng, Garavan, & Carbery, 2018; Festing, Knappert, & Kornau, 2015; Kemper, Bader, & Froese, 2018).
Research on GDM in MNCs is, however, sparse (Cooke, Wood, Wang, & Veen, 2019) and research on GDM in single country and comparative studies has provided only few insights on the influence of context, as most studies have been conducted in the West (e.g., Ng & Sears, 2017; Olsen et al., 2016), with a strong focus on Europe and the US where GDM first originated (e.g., Kalev et al., 2006; Martins & Parsons, 2007; Virick & Greer, 2012). From there, GDM has spread across different countries, but often without challenging the cultural assumptions underlying it. For example, studies indicate that Asian organizations mostly follow what seems to be global best practice with only very little adaptation to local context (Donnelly, 2015; Ng & Chiu, 2001). Similarly, comparative research indicates that there is a shared understanding of GDM practices, only their focus across countries is slightly different (Kemper, Bader, & Froese, 2017; Olsen et al., 2016). While such findings are informative, we need more systematic work to deepen our understanding of the role of contextual differences and develop theory-informed and evidence-based recommendations on how the effectiveness of GDM across different country contexts can be improved.
Given the emerging state of the field, this special issue invites papers that generate theoretical insights, empirical findings, and evidence-based recommendations on how organizations can effectively tackle the challenges arising from managing gender equity and equality in and across different country contexts. Single country studies will not be a priority for this special issue. Although women are still the primary target of GDM and thus the main focus of our special issue, GDM has been expanded to include different gender expressions and gender identities emanating from a greater recognition of non-binary or trans-gender identities and their intersections (American Psychological Association, 2015). Taking account of these developments and welcoming this broadening of scope, we also invite manuscripts within this expanded understanding of GDM, including studies that focus on the allied concepts of gender diversity and inclusion in context.
The following are illustrative themes and research questions that we aim to address in this special issue. Authors are encouraged to submit papers with wider perspectives (and different methodologies) as long as the papers meet the aim of this special issue.
1) Studies on GDM in MNCs
2) Comparative studies on GDM
3) Studies enhancing theory of GDM across borders
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Ali, M., Metz, I., & Kulik, C. T. (2015). The Impact of Work-Family Programs on the Relationship between Gender Diversity and Performance. Human Resource Management, 54(4), 553–576.
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