In Western societies and organizations, episodes of discrimination based on individual demographic and social characteristics still occur. Relevant questions, such as why ethnic discrimination is perpetuated and how people confront it in the workplace, remain open. In this study, we adopt a social-symbolic work perspective to explore how individuals confront workplace ethnic discrimination by both upholding and challenging it. In doing so, we incorporate the perspectives of those directly experiencing, observing and neglecting discrimination. Specifically, we focus on the Italian branches of North American professional service firms (PSFs), performing a qualitative investigation of the worlds of concern among professionals regarding the topic of ethnic discrimination to explore how different backgrounds motivate social-symbolic work. We find that different forms of work are enacted to support the status quo, shape the boundaries of existing organizational practices, and balance professional identities, emotions, and careers to silence episodes of ethnic discrimination. We also highlight cases of ‘soft,’ yet increasing, work that contests the status quo. Finally, we discuss our results in light of neo-institutional and critical management research to ultimately inspire our focal firms and societies to find alternatives to the rhetoric in the established approaches to inequality.

Aliberti, D., Bissola, R., Imperatori, B., Don’t Rock the Boat: The Social-symbolic Work to Confront Ethnic Discrimination in Branches of Professional Service Firms, <<JOURNAL OF BUSINESS ETHICS>>, 2024; (February): 1-24. [doi:10.1007/s10551-024-05613-2] [https://hdl.handle.net/10807/272875]

Don’t Rock the Boat: The Social-symbolic Work to Confront Ethnic Discrimination in Branches of Professional Service Firms

Aliberti, Daniela
;
Bissola, Rita;Imperatori, Barbara
2024

Abstract

In Western societies and organizations, episodes of discrimination based on individual demographic and social characteristics still occur. Relevant questions, such as why ethnic discrimination is perpetuated and how people confront it in the workplace, remain open. In this study, we adopt a social-symbolic work perspective to explore how individuals confront workplace ethnic discrimination by both upholding and challenging it. In doing so, we incorporate the perspectives of those directly experiencing, observing and neglecting discrimination. Specifically, we focus on the Italian branches of North American professional service firms (PSFs), performing a qualitative investigation of the worlds of concern among professionals regarding the topic of ethnic discrimination to explore how different backgrounds motivate social-symbolic work. We find that different forms of work are enacted to support the status quo, shape the boundaries of existing organizational practices, and balance professional identities, emotions, and careers to silence episodes of ethnic discrimination. We also highlight cases of ‘soft,’ yet increasing, work that contests the status quo. Finally, we discuss our results in light of neo-institutional and critical management research to ultimately inspire our focal firms and societies to find alternatives to the rhetoric in the established approaches to inequality.
2024
Inglese
Aliberti, D., Bissola, R., Imperatori, B., Don’t Rock the Boat: The Social-symbolic Work to Confront Ethnic Discrimination in Branches of Professional Service Firms, <<JOURNAL OF BUSINESS ETHICS>>, 2024; (February): 1-24. [doi:10.1007/s10551-024-05613-2] [https://hdl.handle.net/10807/272875]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10807/272875
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