Transformative Topics

 

Welcome to the third edition of May’s Transformative Topics, a series where we feature TCR research and researchers in a topical area of consumer, environmental or societal well-being. This month, in recognition of May being the EU's Diversity Month, we feature a foundational article on the topic of transformative intersectionality, accessible here.

 

As lead author Dr. Laurel Steinfield explains below, while this paper ended up focusing on diversity, there are important lessons for all researchers examining intersectional identities.

 

“Our paper on Transformative Intersectionality, represented a shift in TCR's gender-track to move beyond a focus on gender to the way gender intersects with other social categories and identities. We started our work based on interviews we conducted with practitioners working on diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) in their institutions. This included those trying to implement DE&I programs as well as those involved with multi-cultural or cross-cultural marketing and femvertising. The length of the paper and feedback of the reviewers, however, lead us to focus only on DE&I programs - situating them as programs that organizations consume. I still wish we could have added in femvertising and cross-cultural marketing as those practices merit an intersectionality assessment.
 
To build out the paper we ended up delving deeply into case studies of three organizations that, at the time of writing, were featured as DE&I advocates — Facebook, Google and Starbucks. While this work certainly took us away from our normal B2C marketing lens, it has held me in good stead and has informed much of the research and pedagogical work I continue to do in the space of social justice and equity.
 
One of the key things we were trying to do with this article was to move intersectionality studies in marketing/CB beyond a focus on consumers to understanding the power dynamics that cause consumers to experience inequities. This analysis helped us to figure out why DE&I programs, while growing in popularity, seems to have made a limited impact in changing workplaces so that they are more inclusive, particularly for equity-deserving groups. We hope the insights will inspire others to go beyond a focus of diversity to address and change the systemic problems that give rise to social injustices.”

We invite you to find the paper at the TCR website here. You can also search the TCR archives for other publications on diversity and intersectionality. Just type a keyword or author into the search box.

 

Reference:

Laurel Steinfield, Minita Sanghvi, Linda Tuncay Zayer, Catherine A. Coleman, Nacima Ourahmoune, Robert L. Harrison, Wendy Hein, Jan Brace-Govan (2019). Transformative intersectionality: Moving business towards a critical praxis. Journal of Business Research, 100, Pages 366-375. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2018.12.031

 

Abstract: Drawing on intersectionality's historical feminist roots of critical praxis and recent re-radicalization of the theory, this paper urges for an expansion of the concept of intersectionality in business and marketing-related studies. To extend the transformative potential of intersectionality theory, we call for scholars and practitioners to move beyond the study of intersecting identity markers (e.g., gender, race, class) to include assessments of power structures and intersectional oppressions. We propose the transformative intersectional framework (TIF) to help scholars and practitioners to explore sources of oppressions more deeply and broadly. We illustrate the analytical capability of the TIF by examining a much lauded business-to-business service that seeks social justice and change—diversity training programs. Using the TIF, we identify the inherent and (in)visible complexities of injustices with which organizations must grapple. We close by demonstrating how the TIF can enrich practice and propose recommendations for action. • Re-radicalized intersectionality provides transformational potential to firms. • Diversity programs require intersectionality and context-specific perspective. • Standardization of implicit bias tests neglects intersecting identities. • Diversity training overlooks deep systemic issues and glocalized conditions. • Depth and breadth are key to managerially useful intersectional understanding.

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