The Business Case for Gender Equality: ‘Othering’ and ‘Normalising’ for Profit
This paper will contribute to the discussion regarding the argument that there is a business case for gender equality in employment. The paper will explore the extent to which a business case rationale can be superimposed on initiatives that aim to increase women’s participation in the labour market by a discussion of the preliminary results of an analysis of a number of such initiatives that are being sponsored through the Genderwise network by Equal in Scotland. These projects are primarily focused on initiatives in the public sector. The paper will provide an analysis of the particular barriers to the implementation of gender equality policies and practices in the work place and argue that given the European context of a declining population and an ageing workforce, the resulting increase in competition amongst firms to recruit employees will require some innovative solutions from European businesses. Such responses, however, will also need to take account of the European Employment Strategy Adopted Employment Guidelines 2005-2008. These make an explicit commitment to gender mainstreaming and gender equality and places centre stage the promotion of ‘a lifecycle approach to work’ (Guideline No. 18). The paper will focus on explicit and implicit limitations and contingencies of the business case approach towards gender equality in the workplace employing the feminist lens of ‘othering’ and ‘normalising’ as a conceptual framework within which the impact of such policies on various groups of women and men is considered.
Keywords: Gender Equality, Employability, Feminism, Public Sector, Business Case
Dr. Kiril Sharapov
Research Fellow, Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, Napier University