Race and Ethnicity: The Problem with “Doing Diversity” in Organizations and the Consequent Racializing Effects

Thursday Jun 03 9:00 am to 10:00 am (Mountain Time)
Virtual 1

Session Code: RAE1A
Session Format: Regular
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Race and Ethnicity
Session Categories: Regular Session

Today, one of the ways in which organizations have shown a commitment to inclusivity has been by “doing diversity”. This is similar to the term “doing difference’ coined by West and Fernstenmaker in 1995. Doing difference – an expansion of “doing gender” (1987) – is used by the authors to understand how “difference” (race, class and gender) is reproduced at a micro-interactional level of analysis. A most recent example of ‘doing diversity’ can be seen within the university setting, as departments across North America are hiring Black faculty following the death of George Floyd and the increase of BLM protests. Using multiple methodologies, the papers in this session problematize how diversity is being taken up in organizational settings and demonstrate the racialization that occurs, regardless of such diversity policies. Tags: Policy and Society, Race and Ethnicity

Organizers: Jessica Stallone, University of Toronto, Carlo Handy Charles, McMaster University, Jennifer Adkins, University of British Columbia, Lisa Giuseppina Iesse, University of Toronto, Kayonne Christy, University of British Columbia, Jillian Sunderland, University of Toronto, Firrisaa Abdulkarim, York University; Chair: Jillian Sunderland, University of Toronto


Tka Pinnock, York University

Negotiating Whiteness in the Everyday Spaces of the University: Reflections of a Black Woman Graduate Student

Canadian universities have made notable interventions to disrupt and respond to anti-Black racism and settler colonialism, particularly in recent months with a spate of Black faculty hiring and the creation of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategies and administrative positions. Yet, the presence of strategies, processes, and racialized people does not inherently redress anti-Black racism, contain White privilege, nor foster critical and safe spaces. While studies (Henry et al, 2017; CAUT, 2010) indicate the ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous scholars as well as scholars racialized as non-White, less scholarly attention has been paid to the experiences of graduate students. Drawing on autobiographical reflections of my experiences as an Afro-Caribbean Canadian doctoral student in a Canadian university, I use the prism of Black feminist thought, critical race theory, whiteness and neoliberalism to explore the intellectual and agential opportunities available to racialized graduate students in their universities. The paper focuses on the everyday spaces of the classroom and the department to interrogate the simultaneous and multiple relationships a doctoral student has with the university – that of student, instructor, and department member – and, the ways in which these relationships discipline and mediate the epistemological and political commitments of BIPOC emerging scholars.

Julie Bérubé, Université du Québec en Outaouais; Vivek Venkatesh, Concordia; Jacques-Bernard Gauthier, Université du Québec en Outaouais; Maud Loranger, Université du Québec en Outaouais; Léah Snider, Concordia University

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Cultural Industries: The Role of Cultural Organizations

According to Florida (2014), the creative and cultural industries should not be affected by equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) issues.  The competitive advantage of individuals lies in their talent and creativity and is not dependent on, for example, ethnicity, gender or social class. However, the results of scientific research point rather towards systemic discrimination within these industries, exacerbated by the policies put in place to promote them. Current research shows discrimination based on gender and ethnicity, but also on physical ability, age and location. Based on these observations, Eikhof (2017) proposes a theoretical approach in which she studies, on the one hand, individuals working in the creative and cultural industries and the decisions they make and, on the other hand, the decision makers and the context in which they make EDI-related decisions. Nevertheless, Eikhof (2017) does not take into account the role of cultural organizations. But, Acosta (2016) notes their importance in shaping policies specific to cultural industries. The objective of this research is therefore to identify the role of cultural organizations in EDI issues within the cultural industries. To this end, we are currently conducting semi-structured interviews with artists and cultural organizations in four Canadian cities (we are aiming for a total of 60 interviews). These results are analyzed using Boltanski and Thévenot (1991; 2006)’s theoretical framework On justification. Respondents responses are associated with the different worlds of Boltanski and Thévenot (1991; 2006) in order to identify tensions and the formation of compromises. Based on the empirical data collected on the tensions and compromises, we will propose ways in which cultural organizations can work towards equity, diversity and inclusion in the cultural industries.

Golshan Golriz, McGill University

Doing Diversity in the Queer Mainstream: the Case of QTMuslims in Toronto, Canada

This article examines the function of diversity policies and practices in mainstream queer organizations. The research draws on interviews with leaders of Queer and Trans Muslim Organizations (QTMOs), mainstream queer organizations, and one counter-to-mainstream queer organization in Toronto, Canada. Interview data are triangulated with archival and content analysis. Results show that diversity mandates are insufficient to address the needs of Queer and Trans Muslims (QTMuslims) within mainstream queer organizations. This is because diversity initiatives are based on an inclusion model that consolidates all minority differences under a master sexual identity. The assumption of queer universality in this model ignores the specific demands of minority groups, fails to account for QTMuslims’ intersectional identities, and creates the assumption that queerness and Islam are irreconcilable. The positive appearance of diversity initiatives also conceals the unequal power relations and structural barriers encountered by marginalized groups, including QTMuslims, in mainstream organizations.