Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED)
The Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED) at Queen Mary, University of London, was established in 2005 and is a prominent international research centre at the leading edge of equality and diversity research.
CRED is committed to critical scholarship in researching equality and diversity and seeks to be guided by principles of social justice and inclusivity. In the contemporary political and economic context, research on equality, inequalities and diversity is vital to advance theoretical understanding and to appraise the impact of contemporary public policies internationally and nationally, and both at the level of the organization and the individual.
CRED’s research is interdisciplinary and draws on sociological, economic, industrial relations, psychological and subaltern studies to explore key debates and conceptual developments such as intersectionality, the value of capitals (social, cultural and economic), (global) diversity management, the contested nature of career concepts, the role of legislation and social movements in challenging inequalities. Specific research topics include inequalities and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity, social class, disability and ethnicity; employment relations policies and practices; labour market and sectoral studies; subaltern knowledge; migration; career studies and organisational aspects of equality and diversity.
CRED’s research is international and comparative with completed projects on both developed and developing countries/regions: e.g. China, Germany, France, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, US, Latin America, Middle East, and South Asia. CRED researchers have built strong links with international universities and institutions.
For further information, please contact the Co-Directors of CRED - Elena Doldor and Tessa Wright by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on Twitter @QMUL_CRED
CRED Co-director and Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour
Elena Doldor’s research interests are in the field of diversity and leadership, with an emphasis on the processes shaping the career progression of women and ethnic minorities in organizations. Her research tackled diversity on UK corporate boards and the role of headhunters in increasing board diversity; the role of power and organizational politics in the experiences of male and female managers; the experiences and identities of highly skilled Romanian professionals in the UK; and the career trajectories of ethnic minority professionals in professional services firms. She published papers in the British Journal of Management, Human Resource Management Journal, Gender in Management, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal. Elena is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management and was a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at Northwestern University USA.
Co-director of CRED and Professor of Employment Relations
Tessa's research focuses on equality and discrimination at work, covering gender, sexuality and intersectionality, with a particular interest in male-dominated occupations. Before entering academia, Tessa worked for many years as a researcher and writer for the trade union movement, which shaped her interests in strategies for advancing equality at work, including in trade unions and through public procurement. She has published three books: Moore, S, Wright, T. and Taylor, P. (2018) Fighting Fire: One hundred years of the Fire Brigades Union, Oxford: New Internationalist; Wright, T. (2016) Gender and sexuality in male-dominated occupations: women workers in construction and transport, Palgrave Macmillan; and Wright, T. and Conley, H. (eds) (2011) Gower Handbook of Discrimination at Work (2011).
Head of Department, People & Organisations and Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour
Andromachi Athanasopoulou is the Head of the People & Organisations department and Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at the School of Business and Management. She is also Associate Fellow, Executive Education at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and Visiting Associate Professor in Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School. Her areas of expertise are leadership (including gender and leadership and CEO studies), corporate social responsibility and ethics. Andromachi has published peer-reviewed academic papers in these fields and a book on executive coaching for the Oxford University Press. She is an editorial board member at the Journal of Change Management. Andromachi previously held appointments as a research fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and at the University of Oxford. She has an MBA, MSc and DPhil in Management from the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
Reader in Economics
Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay specialises in the economics of growth and development, measurement of inequality, poverty and mobility and applied econometrics, with a specific focus on Asia and Africa. Her theoretical work has dealt with measurement issues in income convergence and mobility, and applied work deals with institutional barriers to economic development. She has held previous academic appointments at the University of Oxford, University of Birmingham and the London School of Economics and was Visiting Professor/Fellow at the Toulouse School of Economics and Cornell University. She holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and is currently the guest editor for Research on Economic Inequality.
Professor of Organisational Psychology
Rob Briner is Professor of Organizational Psychology in the School of Business and Management. He conducts research into several areas of organizational psychology and HR such as work and well-being, the psychological contract, work-nonwork relationships and ethnicity. In addition, he is very active in developing evidence-based practice in management, HR and organizational psychology.
Senior Lecturer in Accounting
Ishani Chandrasekara's research interests are in the field of Critical Accounting and Finance with a particular focus on the presence of a feminine narrative in response to the phallocentric culture that has defined women's subjectivity in the Western philosophy of management. Her doctoral research investigates subaltern knowledge of finance and accounting. In particular, she is interested in the way women in Sri Lanka, in local organisations, develop alternative understandings of finance and accounting, and how both international finance, and large NGOs' seek to convert these women into globalised financial subjects by disregarding this subaltern knowledge. At present Ishani works with the Centre for Women’s Research on the impact of austerity measures on locally based women organisations in Sri Lanka.
Professor of Organisation Studies
Nelarine Cornelius holds research interests in equality, diversity and inclusion in the UK and emerging, fragile economies, and international comparisons of policy and practices. Much of her work employs Sen’s capabilities approach in organisations and for community development. Current projects include the emergence of EDI practices in Pakistan and Nigeria; diversity practices and senior management progression in FTSE 250 companies, the role of social organisations in addressing EDI and theoretical critique of diversity practices and EDI policy and practice in public sector organisations. Her work in this area has been funded by HEIF, CIPD, British Academy, British Academy of Management and ESRC. She is also a member of the diversity impact working group for the Chartered Association of Business Schools, and has advised on EDI policy and practice to many public, private and social sector organisations.
Senior Lecturer in Corporate Social Responsibility/Business Ethics
Sadhvi Dar holds a Diploma in Art and Design, a BSc in Psychology and a PhD in Management Studies. Her research investigates the juncture between measurement and culture, and contributes to current understandings in organization studies about accountability, reporting and processes of knowledge production. Theoretically, Sadhvi finds inspiration in postcolonial studies, social philosophy and psychoanalytic approaches, however, she also has an interest in post-structural theory more broadly. Her empirical work is diverse, ranging from critiques of NGO management, international development, mental health organizations and arts organizations. Sadhvi has expertise in ethnography, archival research, discourse / narrative approaches, cross-cultural analysis and interviewing.
Nkechinyelu’s research interest are interdisciplinary, spanning organisational psychology, cultural studies and organisational studies. Her work covers issues of identity, inequality regimes, and migration, taking an intersectionality stance. She has studied intersectional feminism in the NHS, which focused on the mediating role of professional status in the experiences of first-generation migrant healthcare professionals.
Dr Claire English
Claire’s research is situated within the sociology of work and draws from gender and postcolonial organisation studies. She writes about how communities and organisations change when they centre the needs of marginalised communities by collectivising the micropolitical everyday acts of social reproduction. Her current research makes present the under-examined aspect of ‘emotion’ in social reproduction theory and what it means for motherhood when ‘emotions’ feel like ‘work’. She is particularly interested in the impact of neoliberalism as a governing political rationality and the way this shapes individual and collective emotionality.
Professor of Employment Relations
Geraldine Healy has extensive experience of researching equality and inequalities in organisational and international settings. She is currently researching the gender pay gap (GPG) in the financial services sector and in universities. Her work in 2016-17 includes The Challenges of Organising Women Casualised Workers TUC) ‘Close the Deal, Fill the Gap’ (for EU) a comparative study of the GPG in Italy, Poland and the UK, member of CMI/BAM research advisory group on BAME leadership. She had published widely in leading journals and her recent books include: Gender and Union Leadership, Routledge 2013 (with Gill Kirton), Diversity, Ethnicity, Migration and Work: International Perspectives, 2011, Palgrave Macmillan (with Franklin Oikelome). Forthcoming edited books are Gender and the Professions and The Gender Pay Gap and Social Partnership (both Routledge).
Professor of Employment Relations
Gill Kirton has been conducting research on equality, diversity and inclusion at work for around 20 years. Her research has investigated different stakeholder perspectives on the development and implementation of diversity management in UK organizations. Another strand of her research explores women's participation in unions and unions’ gender and race equality strategies. One recent project explored the gender and union effects of restructuring/outsourcing of a public service within the context of a professional occupation. Gill Kirton’s work is published in journals such as British Journal of Industrial Relations, Gender, Work and Organization, Human Resource Management Journal, Human Relations, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Work, Employment and Society. Gill is an Associate Editor of Human Resource Management Journal and of Gender, Work and Organization.
Lecturer in Organisation Studies
Patrizia’s research interests are in gender at work. In her current research, she seeks to better understand the experiences of women undergoing IVF while working. Her broader research interests focus on motherhood, breastfeeding and women’s bodies at work. She has a particular interest in the accounting profession, comparatively and historically, and women’s careers in Professional Service Firms (PSFs). Her past research focused on the careers of women who made partnership in PSFs in Germany and the United Kingdom and to examine the challenges women experiences on the way to partnership from a feminist perspective.
Lecturer in Human Resource Management
Maria Koumenta’s research activities are in the fields of labour economics, labour market policy and employment relations. Her work explores the characteristics and prevalence of various forms of occupational regulation, analyses their impact on labour market outcomes such as wages, skills and employment, and compares it to other labour market institutions such as unionism. She has recently been involved in a research project funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills investigating occupational regulation in the UK (with John Forth-NIESR, Amy Humphries-LSE, Alex Bryson-NIESR and Morris Kleiner- University of Minnesota). Additionally, Maria is interested in public sector labour market policy and the management of employees in the public services.
Professor Patricia Lewis
CRED Visiting Professor 2019/20
Patricia is full Professor of Management at the Kent Business School, University of Kent and a Visiting Professor in the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity at Queen Mary University. Her research is located in the broad area of gender and organization studies. She has sought to make visible the way in which organizations, managers, leaders & entrepreneurs are subject to and constituted by gendered cultural norms and how such constitution contributes to inequality. Her research emerges from a fascination with the dynamic durability of inequality based on gender and other forms of difference and she has led several research agendas to build understanding of its changing form. This includes work on the gendered nature of entrepreneurship manifest in its inherent masculinity, the emergence of feminised entrepreneurship, the development of the concept of entrepreneurial femininity connected to postfeminism and the identification of the mumpreneur as a postfeminist enterprise character.
Professor of Applied Economics
Pedro Martins is Professor of Applied Economics at SBM since 2009, having joined in 2004. Secretary of State for Employment in the Government of Portugal (2011-2013). Member of Group of Experts advising the Government of Greece and the European Commission on labour market reforms (2016). Research fellow of IZA, Bonn, and NovaSBE, Lisbon. PhD in Economics, University of Warwick. Author of over 20 academic articles (published in Journal of Labor Economics, American Economic Journal, Labour Economics, British Journal of Industrial Relations, etc). Consultant to international organisations, national agencies, multinationals and NGOs. Current main research and policy interests are employment services, including ALMPs, and employment law, in particular collective bargaining.
Reader in Management Practice / Deputy Director of Education / Director of Skills and Employer Engagement
Patrick leads on undergraduate curriculum development projects, student skills- and career-development and employer engagement for the School of Business and Management. He was previously Head of Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour at the University of Greenwich and has several years of experience of management education for corporate clients across multiple sectors in the UK and Germany. At QMUL, Patrick teaches various modules concerned with leadership and management practice at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Dean of the School of Business and Management / Professor of Human Resource Management
Mike Noon's main research focuses on workplace equality and diversity, including employee experiences, management initiatives, and local and national policy. His publications critically question what might be considered ‘mainstream’ approaches to the challenges of equality, such as the business case, managing diversity and positive action initiatives, and he advocates taking a more progressive stance. He has been invited to present his ideas to various equality forums including the Government Equality Office, the Higher Education Leadership Foundation, the Equality Challenge Unit, the Metropolitan Police Service and the College of Policing. He has published in leading academic journals, has co-edited two research books, and co-authored two successful textbooks.
Senior Lecturer in Management
Mustafa Bilgehan Ozturk is Lecturer in Management in the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London. Mustafa’s research focuses on workplace equality and inclusion, with particular reference to gender, sexual orientation and gender identity minorities. His empirical work has often an international focus, and he has been involved in research projects addressing diversity challenges emanating from the Chinese, Turkish, US and UK contexts. His academic work has appeared in a range of leading management journals, such as British Journal of Management, Human Relations, Human Resource Management, and International Journal of Human Resource Management. He has also contributed to key edited volumes in his field, published by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Routledge among others.
Emily has recently submitted her PhD thesis entitled: The Silence of Transparency: A Critical Analysis of the Relationship between the Organisational Salary Environment and the Gender and Gender/Ethnic Pay Gap in UK Higher Education. She is a mixed-methods researcher, with qualitative experience using NVIVO for thematic analysis, quantitative experience using SPSS, and survey experience using the Qualtrics platform. She is currently working on a collaborative paper analysing the gender pay gap in UK universities and developing work for publication from her thesis.
Professor of International Human Resource Management
Ahu Tatli conducts research on intersectionality of disadvantage and privilege at work; inequality and discrimination in recruitment and employment; diversity management, agency and change in organizations. Ahu’s research contributed to the advancement of knowledge on EDI at work culminating in over 100 journal and conference papers. She has widely published in edited collections, practitioner and policy outlets and international peer-reviewed journals such as Academy of Management Review, British Journal of Management, European Journal of Industrial Relations, Human Relations, Human Resource Management, International Business Review, International Journal of Human Resource Management, and International Journal of Management Reviews. Her recent books include Global Diversity Management: an evidence-based approach (2015, Palgrave) and Pierre Bourdieu, Organisation and Management (2015, Routledge).
Head of Department of Accounting and Financial Management
The main theme of Dr Suki Sian's work has been exclusion from and marginalisation within the accounting profession. She has studied historical race-based and caste-based exclusion from the accounting profession in specific colonial settings. More recently, She has been involved in two projects examining gender-based marginalisation. The first of these looks at the experiences of women auditors in large audit firms in Saudi Arabia. The second study examines a returnship programme for women accountants wishing to re-enter the accounting profession post career-break.
Reader in Human Resource Management
Dr Mark Williams specialises in mapping socio-economic disparities in the labour market using large-scale survey and administrative data. He regularly engages in consultancy and advisory work for government, trade unions, and professional bodies, both in the UK and internationally. Recent completed projects include a review on the gender pay gap in the medical profession for the Department of Health and Social Care and the production of two pay claims and gender pay gap analyses for a large public sector trade union. His latest project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, explores disparities in the quality of working life across occupational groups to help inform the development of official statistics and government policy on the issue.
Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies
Maria Adamson is a critical scholar with an interdisciplinary background and interests in sociology of work, gender and critical management studies. Her research focus is on the exploration of the socio-cultural basis of gender workplace inequality, exploring professions and professional work, and bringing feminist theorising into management and organisation studies. Her previous research projects have explored the role of gender in professions and critically explored the quality of inclusion in organisations, applying postfeminist lens to understand contemporary gendered inequalities in the workplace. Her recent project focuses on exploring the role and impact of business celebrities on work and organisations. Maria’s work has been published in world-leading journals including Human Relations, Sociology, British Journal of Management, Gender Work and Organisation and she has recently completed an ESRC-funded project on Gendered Inclusion in Contemporary Organisations. She is also a co-Editor of Work Employment and Society journal.
PhD students make up an important constituency of CRED. You can see a list of all current CRED PhD students under the 'PhD Study' tab on this page.
CRED academics publish widely in leading journals, books and other media and adopt a critical and multi-disciplinary approach. Since 2008, scholarly outputs by CRED members include 107 peer reviewed journal articles, 19 books, 46 book chapters.
We undertake research in the following broad areas:
Trade unions, community organising and activism for change
Equality, diversity, inclusion policies and practices
Sexuality and gender identity
Race, ethnicity and migration
Income inequalities, mobility, labour force and occupations
Intersectionality, inequalities and privilege
Accountability, CSR and Governance
Leadership and entrepreneurship
Time, work and careers
CRED researchers have secured grants from a range of funding bodies including: ESRC, Leverhulme Foundation, Nuffield, British Academy as well as organisations such as Equal Opportunities Commission (now EHRC), Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), BBC, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), IPEA, Accounting Association, Feminist Review, South Africa’s National Research Foundation, TUC and other labour unions and various government departments.
Examples of recent and ongoing funded research projects by CRED researchers since 2014 include:
- “Developing an Academic Professional identity: Practice and policy options for attracting, retaining and advancing African, Coloured and Indian academics in South African Universities in the context of transformation” by Doyin Atewologun and Stella Nkomo (National Research Foundation)
- “Women on Boards” by Elena Doldor (KPMG)
- “Close the Deal, Fill the Gap: Three country study of Gender Pay Gap” by Geraldine Healy, Pedro Martins, Hazel Conley with Universities of Verona and Silesia (European Union)
- “Challenge of organising women casualised workers” by Geraldine Healy (TUC)
- “Careers, strategies and practices of diversity consultants” by Gill Kirton with Anne-marie Greene, DeMontfort University (British Academy)
- “Design and Analysis of the EU Survey of Occupational Regulation” by Maria Koumenta (European Commission)
- “Labour Market Effects of Occupational Regulation: Skills, Wages, Income Equality” by Maria Koumenta (Department of Business Innovation and Skills)
- “Developing vocational training in the Mozambique labour market” by Pedro Martins (International Growth Centre)
- “ActiValuate: Counterfactual impact evaluation of a large activation programme” by Pedro Martins (European Commission)
- “Women on boards - a compulsory versus a voluntary approach – the case of Norway and UK” by Cathrine Seierstad (British Academy)
- “Gender equality in distribution of economic power: Understanding and overcoming obstacles to gender equality in economic decision- making, EQPOWEREC” by Cathrine Seierstad (EEA, Norwegian Financial Mechanism)
- “The business case for diversity management” by Ahu Tatli with Mustafa Ozbilgin, Brunel University (ESRC with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
- “Developing a Framework for Equality Bargaining in the Rail Sector” by Tessa Wright with Hazel Conley and Sian Moore (British Academy)
Research Impact and engagement is an important aspect of CRED’s work. CRED members are involved in a wide range of public and research engagement activities including media contributions by Dar, Doldor, Kirton, Martins, Ozturk, Seierstad, Wright (Guardian, BBC Radio 4, LBC Radio, BBC World Service; CNN, The FT, HR Magazine, The Conversation, THES).
We stress the importance of meaningful and impactful research in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion. This is reflected in our collaborations with NGOs, public bodies, corporations and practitioner’s organisations, e.g. British Psychology Society (Atewologun); Center for Social Concerns in Sri Lanka and Women’s Development Centre (Chandrasekara); Butler Trust, Chartered Management Institute, Chartered Association of Business Schools, British Academy of Management, Kent Police, South Birmingham Primary Care Trust,Youth Hostel Association of England and Wales (Cornelius); Shenley Hospital, Local authority child services (Dar); Professional Women’s Network Romania, KPMG, Barclays (Doldor), TUC, UCU, UNITE, ETUC, Horizon 2020 Advisory Groups (Healy); Royal College of Nursing (Kirton); European Commission (Koumenta, Martins, Seierstad); Department for Business Innovation and Skills (Cornelius, Koumenta); Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (Tatli); Fire Brigades Union, TSSA and Network Rail (Wright).
Some recent examples of impactful research by CRED members are in the areas of:
Dr Andromachi Athanasopoulou
Executive Coaching Impact - Assessment of Evidence
This case study has generated a new practice agenda on executive coaching (EC) which shifts -at a global level- the field’s attention from a narrow focus only on outcomes to a more balanced focus on the management of contextual drivers to generate successful EC interventions. The impact applies both to EC practice and executive education contexts. Through a systematic review of EC outcome studies, the paper identifies the types of impact EC interventions generate, in what way EC works and where it does not but, most importantly, what are the drivers shaping EC practice, both at the individual and at the organisational level.
Dr Elena Doldor
Improving Gender and Ethnic Balance on UK boards and Senior Leadership
Research by Doldor and Atewologun shaped national policy on women on boards (WoB) and sectoral practice on ethnic diversity in senior leadership in UK businesses. One research stream investigated gender balance on FTSE350 boards, causes for female under-representation, and potential interventions. Reports were endorsed by leading national reviews into women leaders (Davies 2011-2015; Hampton-Alexander 2015-2020). The work has influenced national policy, resulting in the recommendation and widespread adoption of voluntary gender targets on boards and below, and increased gender balance on boards. A subsequent research stream focused on pipelines of board talent by examining ethnic diversity in leadership within a Big 4 professional services firm (EY), resulting in the firm’s altered approach to developing over 100 ethnic minority leaders, increasing engagement and retention. These research-informed inclusive practices are being promoted across the professional services sector, widening the impact.
Dr Maria Koumenta
Affecting Policy on the Regulation of Occupations in the Labour Market in the EU and UK
Dr. Maria Koumenta is a leading world expert on occupational regulation, having extensively researched its prevalence and impact on earnings, earnings inequality, employment, labour mobility and skills. Her research has provided the intellectual context for EU policy on how entry to occupations should be regulated and has increased attention on how occupations are regulated in the EU and UK. She has further advised on implementation and produced research that has evaluated its effects. In particular, her work informed the Transparency and Mutual Evaluation Exercise that the EU required Member States to undertake, and supported the follow-up policy formulation on regulating professions presented in the Commission’s Single Market Strategy, an impact that spreads across the entire EU workforce. Her research has also informed policy on the regulation of occupations by the HM Treasury and shaped the thinking of the BEIS in relation to the UK’s Action Plan for the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive.
- Helping women get to the top in trade unions
- Implementing the Equality Act 2010
- ‘Why greater gender equality in male-dominated sectors is good for women and industry – and how to do it’ , by Tessa Wright (The Political Anthropologist, 11 October 2016)
- ‘Why it’s important to get more women into “men’s” jobs’ , by Tessa Wright (Work in Progress, 7 September 2016)
- ‘It's better to 'gold-plate' equality law than protect institutional prejudice’ by Tessa Wright and Hazel Conley (The Guardian Comment is Free, 16 September 2013)
- ‘Getting women on to corporate boards: Consequences of the Norwegian gender balance law’ by Morten Huse and Cathrine Seierstad (The European Financial Review, 28December 2013)
- ‘Lessons from Norway in getting women on to corporate boards’ by Cathrine Seierstad, Morten Huse and Silvija Seres (The Conversation, 8 March 2015)
Read our recent research and policy reports:
Healy, G. & Bergfeld, M. (2016) . Report for TUC, TUC/CRED: London.
Kirton, G. & Guillaume, C. (2015) . London: Napo.
Koumenta, M., & Williams, M. (2016) , CIPD, London
Koumenta, M. & Humphris, A. (2015) , European Commission, Brussels
Koumenta, M., Humphris, A., Kleiner, M. & Pagliero, M. (2014) , Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, London
Koumenta, M. & Sevilla, A. (2014) , London: The High Pay Centre.
Martins, P. et al. (2016) .
Özbilgin, M. Tatli, A., Ipek, G. & Sameer, M. (2014) .
Wright, T. (2014) The Women into Construction Project: an assessment of a model for increasing women?s participation in construction [PDF 2,831KB], Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity, Queen Mary University of London.
Please contact us for a full list of research and policy reports by CRED members.
PhD Research in CRED
CRED is keen to welcome new PhD students to the Centre. If you are interested in doing a PhD in aspects of equality, inequalities, diversity and inclusion with us, are highly qualified and motivated, please get in touch by emailing the co-directors at email@example.com
We can help match you with potential supervisors, but you can also contact CRED academics directly via email.
Some of the areas that CRED academics are keen to supervise PhDs are:
- Inequalities across age, disability, ethnicity and race, gender, gender identity, religion and belief, sexual orientation, social class and other identities
- Trade unions, community organising and activism for change
- Equality, diversity, inclusion policies and practices
- Migration, equality, diversity and inclusion
- Income inequalities, mobility, labour force and occupations
- Intersectionality, inequalities and privilege
- Accountability, CSR and governance from equality and diversity perspectives
- Leadership and entrepreneurship from equality and diversity perspectives
- Time, work and careers
Both QMUL and SBM offer a number of scholarships to PhD researchers for suitably qualified candidates from the UK, EU and overseas for full-time study. To apply, you will normally have a first degree with first class honours (or equivalent) and a Master's degree at distinction level, in business/management or a related discipline. Applicants are required to have an IELTS overall score of 7 at the time of application.
These are competitive and you are encouraged to get in touch with a potential supervisor early in the academic year (September) to prepare a suitable proposal for submission in January. Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look here at the SBM PhD Pages for more detailed information.
Current PhD Candidates
- Sreenita Mukherjee
PhD research: Women's experiences of migration and work in the architecture profession: a post-colonial feminist analysis of female migrant architects from the Commonwealth living and working in Britain.
This research intends to contribute to the literature on professionalisation and closure of architecture by examining the intersections of gender and race and migration – an intersection hitherto underexamined in the context of architecture. In terms of management practice, this study can inform female architects about strategies for achieving better socio-economic objectives, through a better understanding of how gender, race and migration-related issues impact their professional identities, and how to devise actions to mitigate such challenges.
- Benish Khan
PhD research: ‘Breaking silence: pain or pride? An exploratory study of professional working mothers’ pregnancy experience in Pakistan.’
Conference presentation: Presented developmental paper; “What will they think when I come to work with my huge pregnant body? Investigation of professional image of pregnant working women in Pakistan” to Gender in management track of BAM 2018 conference. Published in conference proceedings, available online (ISBN: 978-0-9956413-1-0)
Edith is interested in the politics, language and practices of diversity management. Her current research focuses on nonprofit organisations who not only manage diversity as employers, but also engage in policy change as advocates of minority groups on a national level. She studies the Israeli-Palestinian context and the Anglo-Jewish context.
Sarah Marks’ research focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation. She is currently investigating the financial, psychological and social rewards women extract from running their own businesses to explore if and how entrepreneurship increases or decreases well-being for women and the contextual factors that affect this. Sarah is also interested in small business survival in inner-city areas and sits on the Mayor of London’s steering committee for affordable business rents.
Sarah co-chairs a monthly feminist and gender reading group for PhD students together with researchers at Kings College London. If you are interested in joining please contact her directly via her email.
- Mahwish Sikander
How women of colour academics use Black feminism to make sense of their lived experiences in UK's academia using intersectionality and critical race theory.
Past research profile: Careerism, Organizational Politics and Strategic Emotions (Research paper presented at academy of management conference 2017), Careerism, career success, & power (Research paper presented at University of Lahore conference, Pakistan)
Organizational Justice, OCBO, OCBI, Impersonal and Interpersonal Trust (Research paper presented at SZABIST University, Pakistan)
CRED webinar: “Publishing in Gender, Work and Organization journal” – with Professor Patricia Lewis, Visiting CRED Scholar.
30 March 2020
This workshop was offered to all CRED researchers (faculty and doctoral students) interested in publishing in Gender, Work and Organization [ABS 3* journal], and in grappling with the publication process more broadly. Prof Lewis (Editor-in-Chief of the journal) provided an overview of the editorial policy and shared her wider experience and advice on how to navigate the publishing process. The workshop ended with a lively Q&A session in which CRED scholars raised queries about their different aspects of publishing (e.g. gaging fit with a journal, handling ‘revise & resubmits’).
CRED PhD webinar: “Using qualitative methods in doctoral research on equality & diversity” – with Professor Patricia Lewis, Visiting CRED Scholar.
24 March 2020
This workshop focused on using interviews as a qualitative research method in equality and diversity research, tackling in particular how to use interviews from different epistemological perspectives. The webinar was opened to CRED doctoral students at all PhD stages. Doctoral students had an opportunity to discuss questions and challenges related to the use of interviews in their own PhD research (from choosing a research design relying on interviews, preparing the fieldwork and devising interview protocols, to collecting or analysing interview data).
CRED Annual Lecture (part of a two-day series of events set up in partnership with Building the Anti-Racist Classroom Collective (BARC))
25-26 October 2019.
The two-day series of events have been designed as an intervention against the systems of white power that structure our places of learning. We ask: what does it mean to build an anti-racist classroom? What worlds should we be imagining and building in spite of the violence that surrounds us? Inspired by the work of Building the Anti Racist Classroom Collective, this event asks participants to build ethical principles that will inform our organizing. All of the sessions will feed into digital and print resources that will be made available after the event.
Given that these conversations are taking place in the shadow of Brexit, at a university located in East London, we must ask: why now and why here? The question of Brexit has been informed by a nostalgia for Britain as Empire and a desire to harden borders. We also know that Brexit is just one of several national contexts of increased violence and uncertainty for those positioned outside of deathly border regimes, as these borders manifest at everyday, local, national and international scales. In times of explicit racist violence, we refuse to wait for “progress” within inherently violent systems. This workshop is an opportunity to collaborate in community and imagine our future in a principled space; centering people of colour, our knowledge and methodologies for survival.
Equal Pay at 50, in partnership with the Equality Trust
5th November 2019, 11 am-5pm.
In the wake of the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Equal Pay Act, Queen Mary's Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED) is hosting an event on 5 November 2019 to explore ways of ‘making equal and fair pay a reality’. 5 November is particularly timely as it is close to the 2019 Equal Pay Day, after which women effectively work for nothing. In 2017, as a means to close the pay gap, the UK Government introduced annual mandatory gender pay gap reporting for companies of 250+ employees and, after two annual rounds of reporting, it is clear that for some organisations transparency is not sufficient and further radical change needs to take place. Equally, the UK Government’s Women and Equality Committee is arguing for further changes with respect toEnforcing the Equality Act. We are also seeing greater concern expressed at the lack of information and action on the ethnicity pay gap[ii], including a Government consultation on ethnicity pay reporting.[iii] A further challenge lies in understanding the intersectional nature of unequal pay. Our event will engage with these and other issues relevant to making equal and fair pay a reality.
We have a great range of speakers already confirmed. Carrie Gracie (BBC) and Professor Liz Schafer (RHUL), will be speaking on their personal experiences of fighting for equal pay. Insights on the equal pay context and strategies and practices for closing the pay gaps will be shared by speakers from a number of organisations including Business in the Community (Sandra Kerr), PwC (Anne Hurst), Equality Trust (Dr Wanda Wyporska), UnitetheUnion (Diana Holland), EHRC (Rebecca Thomas), Institute for Employment Studies (Duncan Brown), Emma Webster (Yesslaw) and academics (Professor Jeff Frank, Dr Cecile Guillaume and Emily Pfefer). Do join us and share your experience to what is bound to be a stimulating and interactive day that will make a real contribution to ‘Making equal and fair pay a reality’.
CRED Members will be co-organising five streams at next year’s GWO conference at the University of Kent.
The deadline for submission of abstracts was Friday 1st November 2019.
CRED academics discuss equality implications of COVID-19
In Mile End Institute's latest episode, colleagues from our Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity explore the equality and diversity implications of the COVIDー19 pandemic. The conversation touches on valuing essential workers, gender, leadership & remote working.
CRED blog series: Equality and diversity implications of the coronavirus pandemic
The unequal effects of the coronavirus are becoming clear in many ways – from the disproportionate number of deaths among black and ethnic minority people, to which groups take on the burdens and risks of essential work outside the home, as well as the gendered distribution of additional childcare and home schooling.
As researchers with expertise in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at work and in organisations, we examine these unequal and unevenly distributed effects through a series of blogs addressing different EDI concerns. But we will also explore the opportunities for longer-term change offered by the way we have suddenly had to adapt our work and home lives in these radically different circumstances. So rather than allowing EDI issues to drop off the agenda of organisations in favour of emergency responses, we suggest a number of ideas for adapting to our ongoing new circumstances that take full account of the needs of all workers, carers and society more widely, and that can offer improved working and living conditions and more equal and inclusive workplaces.
CRED will regularly update the blog with new articles, the first of which appear here:
- Putting money where our applause is: revaluing essential work during and after the pandemic, Tessa Wright and Gill Kirton
- The coronavirus crisis and the sharing of caring: current dangers and future possibilities, Maria Adamson, Claire English and Sarah Marks
- Female leaders have proved themselves during the COVID-19 crisis - Now it’s time to empower a new generation, Elena Doldor and Andromachi Athanasopoulou
Putting money where our applause is: revaluing essential work during and after the pandemic
Tessa Wright and Gill Kirton
One of the most heartening responses to the coronavirus pandemic has been the outpouring of appreciation for NHS staff, care workers and other essential workers, shown most vividly by loud clapping and cheering every Thursday evening. The essential labour of not only our health and social care workers, but also shop and delivery workers, bank and IT staff, refuse collectors, local authority and energy supply workers, public transport workers, teachers, food producers, growers and pickers, makers of drugs, PPE and medical equipment, emergency service workers and scientific researchers, to name just some vital occupations, has become much more apparent to us all. The government has permitted these workers’ children to continue to attend school so that their parents can be available for essential work, and we have seen that this work has been at a tragic cost for many, with deaths from COVID-19 of doctors, nurses, care workers and bus drivers reported regularly. Moreover, BAME people – healthcare workers in particular – appear to be experiencing a disproportionate impact of the coronavirus – that is, death rates seem to be higher among BAME doctors and nurses. London has also seen a high number of deaths of bus drivers, many of whom are BAME.
While essential occupations are many and varied, they have some important features that we highlight here from an equality perspective. Based on an analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics of 112 occupations that we identified as fitting the definition of critical sectors named by the government where children of workers will get priority schooling, we show that essential occupations:
- are mostly done by women;
- are overwhelmingly low paid;
- have an over-representation of ethnic minority workers;
- contain significant numbers of migrant workers.
Women represent three in five workers (60%) deemed as essential or critical. It is not possible to be precise about exactly who is a key worker in this crisis, given that the government definitions are vague, and the numbers for some occupational categories include both those who are doing essential work and others who are not (for example, the occupational classification ‘sales and retail assistants’ does not distinguish the sector of employment, so includes supermarket and food shop workers, as well as those in shops that are currently closed). However the important point is that while women account for less than half (47%) of all workers across the economy, they are over-represented in the roles essential for our survival in this pandemic. Table 2 [add link] shows that women account for 89% of nurses, 81% of nursing auxiliaries and assistants, and 57% of paramedics. Only one category of health professionals – medical practitioners – is not female dominated, with 47% women. Similarly 84% of the 760,000 care workers and home care workers are women, sales and retail assistants (66%) and check-out operators (76%), all in the frontline during this pandemic. Of course many male workers are also carrying out risky and essential jobs at the moment, for example, bus and coach drivers, of whom 92% are men, van drivers (94%), postal workers and couriers (77%), ambulance staff (71%) and refuse collectors.
The great majority of essential occupations are low paid. Of the occupations we identified as critical – which also included managers in healthcare, transport and logistics, and education – four-fifths (80%) were below the median pay for all occupations of £28,098 (April 2019). This means that both female and male workers in the jobs considered to be essential for our survival during this pandemic receive below average pay. However women are more likely to be in the lowest paid roles. Women are found in large majorities in all the 10 lowest paid occupations on our critical jobs list (see Table 3 [add link]), and of all the 18 occupations paying below £20,000, men only outnumber women in 6 of these (including street cleaners, packers and bottlers and horticulture). Care workers and home carers had an annual average gross pay of £19,104 with only a little more for senior care workers at £20,316 per year. But of the 10 highest paying essential occupations, we find that eight are dominated by men. The patterns of low pay for caring and female-dominated work of course are a major contributor to the persistent gender pay gap, currently 17% for all employees, including full-time and part-time workers.
Ethnic minority workers
Ethnic minority workers are over-represented among those in essential occupations, particularly in health and care roles. While non-white ethnic groups account for 13% of workers across all sectors, they represent 21% of those in healthcare professions, 18% in transport, driving and operative roles, 15% in caring and personal service occupations, and 15% in sales occupations. In part due to these sectoral differences in patterns of employment, some ethnic minority groups experience pay gaps compared to White British employees. Specifically those in Black African, Caribbean or Black British ethnic groups earned on average 5% to 10% less than their White British counterparts, while Chinese and Indian ethnic groups earned more on average than White British workers.
It is well known that the health service, as well as many other essential services, such as social care, food production and agriculture, relies on the work of migrant workers, and the effect of Brexit on recruitment in these areas was already a major concern before the coronavirus pandemic. It was notable that Prime Minister Boris Johnson singled out two nurses from New Zealand and Portugal for special thanks on his release from hospital having survived coronavirus. Furthermore, a video featuring an anti-racist poem, You Clap for Me Now by Darren James Smith, highlighted the crucial role of migrant workers in the current pandemic, and went viral worldwide. The data support these anecdotal accounts of the reliance of the health service on non-UK born staff. Two-fifths (40%) of medical practitioners in England and Wales were born outside of the UK at the time of the 2011 Census, as were 31% of pharmacists, 24% of nurses and 20% of care workers. These figures vary widely across the UK, with London and other large cities heavily reliant on recruitment of medical staff from overseas.
Valuing essential work – the role of trade unions
All this matters because in normal times, the work of women, ethnic minorities and migrant workers is consistently undervalued and devalued, seen in gender and ethnic pay gaps noted above, as well as in rhetoric and policy about reducing overall levels of migration, with migrants commonly presented as a burden on the economy. After the crisis is over, the challenge will be to capitalise on the collective rejoicing of the ‘unsung heroes’ in critical occupations in order to improve those workers’ employment terms and conditions including pay commensurate to their skills and contribution to society. Who will lead on accomplishing this goal? Our recent research on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in nursing and midwifery shows just how vital the major unions and professional organisations – Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives – are in tackling some of the longstanding EDI issues in healthcare workplaces including bullying and harassment, low pay and undervaluing, lack of work-life-balance and race discrimination. Both organisations are on the case and will be pressing the government to confront the grave implications of the nursing staff shortage, which is inextricably linked to these EDI issues.
The Trades Union Congress has called for an increase in the minimum wage to £10 per hour, which would provide a pay rise to an estimated 38 per cent of key workers who are currently paid less than £10 per hour (compared to 31% of those who are not key workers), benefitting up to 3.7 million key workers. This would be a vital first step in turning the applause into concrete and meaningful appreciation.
 A full list of occupations included in our analysis is available here [CRED - valuing essential work supporting tables [PDF 530KB]]
 Data provided at 2-digit SOC level, from the ONS Annual Population survey 2018, created on 07/10/19 by Office for National Statistics.
 Gill Kirton and Cécile Guillaume, Unions defending and promoting nursing and midwifery: workplace challenges, activity and strategies, December 2019, report available on request
Crisis and the sharing of caring: current dangers and future possibilities
Sarah Marks, Maria Adamson and Claire English
The Covid-19 lockdown has demanded a rapid reorganisation of work in and around the home. For many who have been fortunate to retain jobs, this crisis represents an unparalleled situation where the workplace has ‘moved into’ peoples’ homes alongside childcare and household responsibilities. Studies show home-based remote working before the pandemic was highly gendered, and emerging anecdotal and diary evidence suggests that the caring burden during the crisis has fallen unequally on women (Feruguson, 2020).
A real danger exists that if employers are not sensitive to the gendered dynamics of managing homeworking and childcare responsibilities, this crisis will significantly exacerbate already existing gender inequalities and the pay gap – both in terms of women’s immediate well-being, ability to carry out their work and future career progression. Moreover, as the provision of paid-for childcare is unlikely to return to the levels seen before COVID-19 anytime soon, and many more workers are now facing extended caring demands due to shielding family or community members, the care crisis, far from shrinking, is magnified in lockdown and beyond. Yet, in disrupting working patterns based around the unencumbered (male) worker (Acker, 2006), the pandemic also provides an exceptional opportunity to recognise the importance of care work and address it’s gendered nature and implications
We see the key to turning dangers into opportunities as twofold: 1) recognising and addressing the gendered division of caring responsibilities; and 2) improving the provision of childcare. Both ends of the “problem” require action from central and local government, employers, individuals and communities.
We set out a series of bold and radical suggestion that should be incorporated into the unfolding easing of lockdown measures that address the underlying imbalance in caring work which underpins and maintains social inequalities.
- Employers must act to protect the equality and diversity agenda in the homeworking era by recognising and mediating potential gendered impact of these arrangements
- Coordinate alternate and staggered office and other work around school timetables or home-school and childcare responsibilities for all parents.
- Support alternative forms of communal care-giving such as parent-run nurseries, and expanded council provision.
Acting to protect equality
Research shows that women working from home tend to organise their work schedules around children’s schedules. Men also experience challenges but tend to have longer concentrated stretches of worktime as female partners tend to shield them from interruptions (Lewis and Sullivan, 2001; Hilbrecht et al. 2008). Moreover, single parent families are far more likely to be headed by women than men, who must now take on all home-schooling and childcare as well as squeezing in paid work. This can unequally burden women’s mental health and well-being and, if overwork is encouraged when homeworking, lead to a motherhood penalty as women without children and men (with or without children) are able to put in long hours when working from home (Chung and van der Horst, 2018). It is also important to take an intersectional view: women from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be living in crowded, multigenerational households where cultural expectations may impinge on their ability to prioritise work over family.
We suggest that the opportunity here for employers is to draw on these insights and act early. It is unreasonable to expect any parent to provide uninterrupted labour 9-5 from the home under the current lockdown circumstances. Adopting a sensitive and gender-informed strategy of managing the workforce during and post-crisis will help reduce both the burden on households, avoid potential deepening of gender inequalities in the aftermath of the crisis. Measures like adjusting work demands, conducting gender audits when making performance-related decisions, and embracing but systematically monitoring the impact of flexible work on employees can help ensure equality of career opportunities, increase employee loyalty, and improve well-being, thus ensuring sustainable organisational productivity post-crisis.
Coordinate staggered work patterns around school time-tables
Any return to work for parents is dependent on reliable and affordable childcare. Grandparents who may be shielding, will not be an option, resulting in more pressure on external providers. A likely government-ordinated staggered return to work offers an opportunity for a radical rethink on shared responsibility for caring for children and other family/community members. Many large companies will be asked to split their entire workforces into 2 or 3, red/blue teams to work alternate weeks at the home and office, or early and late shifts to reduce workplace physical contact and ease transport congestions.
We suggest that national and local governments should consider mandating schools and nurseries to synchronize openings and timetables with office, retail and other service providers. Thus, the whole nation, or geographic areas, would be on red or blue week (many schools timetable on a fortnightly basis anyway). Extended beyond lockdown easing, these new working patterns based around school timetables could ease the enormous logistical issue for parents, create more family time, ensure substantial cost savings in pre and after school care, and would be well supported by many companies wishing to reduce office expenditure.
Support alternative forms of childcare
Nearly half of childminders expect to stay closed for up to a year following the pandemic, and nearly a third think it is unlikely they will reopen at all (Gaunt, 2020). Many private nurseries, struggling before Covid-19, are also likely to fold while, state funded provision (through nurseries attached to local schools) are only open until 3:30pm, making them an impossible option for many working parents.
We suggest that setting up co-operative nurseries where the parents are involved in the running of the nursery is one possible way out of the current crisis in UK Childcare. One example is Grasshoppers in the Park Nursery in east London, a parent run co-operative where all parents make a practical contribution, like shopping, mending equipment, helping in the nursery itself, or organising fund raising events. Parents who are unable to commit this time do have the option of paying a co-op contribution instead.
We suggest that, following the work of the New Economics Foundation, a number of further measures could fundamentally improve the supply and provision of childcare. Firstly, removing the guidance in the 2006 Childcare Bill that restricts the role of local authorities in providing childcare; secondly giving local authorities the right to buy existing nurseries at point of sale, thirdly incentivising a shift to worker-owned provision by introducing a worker buy-out option at the point of sale of nurseries, fourthly, stopping the sale of public nurseries on the open market and increasing investment in maintained nurseries to ensure they are able to develop and expand provision. Finally, more work-place based nurseries/childcare schemes to reduce parents travel journeys. Early years provision in the UK is also among the most expensive in the world, parents pay an average of 27 per cent of their wages on childcare costs (Family and Childcare Trust 2019). Most private nurseries operate in an environment of sporadic funding models that rely on paying minimum wage, requiring their staff (usually women) to work long hours with increasing numbers of children to care for.
This is a once in a life-time opportunity to take bold and radical action and reset working patterns that improves social justice and lessens inequalities rather than sustains them.
Abendroth, A. K., & Diewald, M. (2019). Auswirkungen von Teleheimarbeit auf geschlechtsspezifische Einkommensungleichheiten in Arbeitsorganisationen. KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 71(1), 81-109.
Acker, J.(2006) Inequality Regimes : Gender, Class, and Race in Organizations. Gender & Society, 20 (4) 441-464
Chung, H., & Van der Horst, M. (2018). Flexible working and unpaid overtime in the UK: The role of gender, parental and occupational status. Social Indicators Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s1120 5-018-2028-7
Ferguson, D Guardian Newspaper, I feel like a 1950s Housewife: How Lockdown has exposed the gender divide, the Guardian newspaper, 3rd May 2020
Gaunt, (2002) Nursery World: Coronavirus, nearly half of childminders could stay closed for up to a year,
Hilbrecht, M., Shaw, S. M., Johnson, L. C., & Andrey, J. (2008). ‘I'm home for the kids’: contradictory implications for work–life balance of teleworking mothers. Gender, Work & Organization, 15(5), 454-476.
Peters, P., Den Dulk, L., & Van der Lippe, T. (2009). The effects of time-spatial flexibility and new working conditions on employees’ work–life balance: The Dutch case. Community, Work & Family, 12(3), 279–297.
Sullivan, C., & Lewis, S. (2001). Home‐based telework, gender, and the synchronization of work and family: perspectives of teleworkers and their co‐residents. Gender, Work & Organization, 8(2), 123-145.
Female leaders have proved themselves during the COVID-19 crisis - Now it’s time to empower a new generation
Dr Elena Doldor and Dr Andromachi Athanasopoulou
The coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on country leaders who have managed exceptionally well the crisis – they are disproportionately women. Heads of state such as Angela Merkel (Germany), Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), Erna Solberg (Norway), Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Iceland), Tsai Ing-wen (Taiwan), Sanna Marin (Finland), and Mette Frederiksen (Denmark) have won praise in the media for their leadership style during the pandemic: clear and direct communication, decisive early action informed by science, humane and empathetic approach to managing the collective anxiety. Importantly, these countries have had comparatively lower rates of infection and death. Of course, comparisons need to be carefully contextualised given differences in geo-political contexts, country sizes, and pandemic-related reporting practices. There certainly are countries led by men that have also handled the pandemic well; but there are few countries led by women that have handled it poorly[i].
A vast body of social science research demonstrates that in order to become leaders, women are held to higher standards of competence than men[ii]. As a result, women’s pathway to the top entails less margin for error and a requires constant need to prove one’s competence. Perhaps this partially explains why these female heads of state have had a more prudent and expertise-based approach to handling the pandemic.
Will these positive examples of female leadership during the pandemic challenge entrenched assumptions about what “good” leadership looks like, and how women can make effective leaders? It is probably too early to tell - but by showing us a different way of wielding power, these female leaders remind us about the importance of diversity in leadership. Many of these female heads of state seem to successfully manage the notoriously difficult tension between being agentic (assertive, dominant, ambitious, forceful) and being communal (interpersonally sensitive, kind, helpful, affectionate) as a female leader[iii]. Embodying her values of kindness, Jacinda Ardern reminded New Zealanders about the importance of looking after neighbours and acting for the greater good. Sanna Marin held a press conference only with and for Norway’s children. At the same time, both of them acted swiftly and decisively in imposing lockdown measures, making potentially unpopular decisions and communicating difficult messages in a compassionate, empathetic manner.
More broadly, the current crisis brought a renewed appreciation for the importance of human connection, which under the circumstances is limited to online. Despite the physical distance, people are seeking ways to reconnect with their networks (but not in the sense of building political capital necessarily), check how everyone is doing or really an opportunity to share experiences on how they manage life in crisis. Being so universal and disconcerting, the crisis has created a basis upon which everyone is experiencing similar emotions (positive and negative) regardless of their seniority at work, and everyone is forced to work in a drastically changed set up. This underscores the importance of building quality relations in the workplace, displaying flexibility in managing work relations, and overall leading more compassionately.
The collective enthusiasm for positive examples of female leadership during the pandemic needs to translate into sustained future attention to the female leadership pipeline in politics and business. Ironically, as we see congratulatory media coverage for these very visible female heads of states, women in junior and mid-career leadership roles across all sectors are disproportionally affected by COVID-19. Across societies and socio-economic strata, women still shoulder a disproportionate share of household and (child)care responsibilities. Under the strain of the lockdown, this will lead to reductions in working time and productivity, reduced access to career-enhancing opportunities, increases in part time or precarious employment or even exit from the labour market. BAME women might also have to contend with the disparate health effects COVID-19 has had on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities[iv]. Thus, while the pandemic impacts all employees, women’s careers are disproportionately affected (for a more in-depth discussion, see our previous CRED blog on “Crisis and the sharing of caring”[v]). Generations of future female leaders are being pushed out of or stalled in leadership pathways by these amplified gender inequalities.
Evidence from past pandemics demonstrates that they increase existing inequalities; it is no different when it comes to COVID-19 and gender inequalities in leadership. We thus need a gender-sensitive response and bold action from organizations and policy-makers to address pandemic-related gender inequities and their long-term effects on the gender balance of future leadership ranks. The time for talking the talk is over. It’s time for action. Below we set out three suggestions.
Documenting how the pandemic affects the careers of women in the pipeline
Our research has documented that women’s career progression to leadership is already paved with gender-specific obstacles (e.g. biased leadership development advice can place women on less upwardly mobile career pathways[vi]). With added gendered career penalties, the current context might only make the ‘glass ceiling’ ‘thicker’. Organisations need a data-driven approach to monitoring how the pandemic affects women’s careers, which should inform organizational interventions to buffer these gendered effects. For instance, AI technology is being discussed in recent years as the emerging game changer in HR practices; it is seen as a means to facilitate recruitment or to drive changes in HR and leadership development practices within organisations. Perhaps one of the best applications of AI could be to collect data on women’s career trajectories and to identify patterns that explain the effects of the pandemic on women’s careers. Data on these differential career penalties should then be used by organisations to inform tangible and bold interventions that put women’s careers back on track (e.g. ensure access to increased developmental opportunities in the aftermath of the crisis).
Reconfiguring collective understandings of what ‘good’ leadership looks like
The positive examples of female leadership and the expansion/questioning of leadership skills called for in this crisis will hopefully broaden our collective understanding of what ‘good’ leadership looks like, fostering more gynandrous leadership models (i.e. that embrace both so called ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine' behaviours)[vii]. This could shape organizations’ future recruitment, promotion, and leadership development agendas. If organisations institutionalise gynandrous leadership, it could lead to democratising selection and upwards progression as we move away from the “white male” job applicant profile which is still prevalent in recruitment in many industries, to one where more rounded and gender-inclusive leadership skills are sought and valued.
Investing in women’s leadership development
With the economic uncertainty this crisis brings, it will be tempting for organizations to halt investments in their leadership development, and in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda more broadly. Decision-making around who gets support for leadership development (and who doesn’t) may also become more political, due to limited resources. However, now is not the time to freeze spending for leadership development or to neglect talent management interventions meant to support female talent. Perhaps the challenge is to find novel, more cost-effective ways of supporting women’s careers by debiasing core talent management processes that will remain in place and by proactively putting on the D&I agenda the gendered (including the intersectional) effects of the pandemic. After all, values get tested during crises and this pandemic will reveal how committed organisations truly are to gender equality in the workplace.
[ii] Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2007). Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
[iii] Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109: 573-598
[vi] Doldor, E., Wyatt, M., & Silvester, J. (2019). Statesmen or cheerleaders? Using topic modelling to identify gendered messages in leadership developmental feedback. The Leadership Quarterly: 30(5)
[vii] Athanasopoulou, A., Moss Cowan, A., Smets, M. & Morris, T. (2018). Claiming the corner office: female CEO careers and implications for leadership development, Human Resource Management, 57(2): 617-639
CRED Blog series - BAME student experiences of lockdown: the voices of East London ‘commuter’ students
Sultana Azmi, Ishani Chandrasekara, Patrick McGurk, Lisa Morrison and Adarsh Ramchurn
This month, thousands of school leavers will learn if they have secured a university place and must decide whether to take up their offer. In addition, second and third-year students must navigate the return to campus, either virtually or physically over the next few weeks. Traditionally, this has meant moving to a new location, often far from home and often for the first time. However, an increasingly large number of undergraduate students, some 25%, commute from their family home to a local university, with much higher proportions in Greater London, Merseyside and the North East (Maguire and Morris, 2018). Set in the heart of the east End of London, nearly three-quarters (74%) of students at Queen Mary’s School of Business and Management are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and are also among those most likely to be ‘commuter’ students, living at home. This blog is a collaboration between academics in the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED) and some of these students, highlighting the specific lockdown challenges for BAME commuter students.
Home commuter students are more likely to:
- work part-time;
- have family or carer responsibilities;
- be the first generation in their family to attend higher education;
- be from a lower socio-economic group;
- have a low income;
- be mature; and
- have a BAME background (Maguire and Morris, 2018).
In addition, as this blog vividly illustrates, for students living at home with their families during the pandemic, the extra pressures of caring for family members, dealing with bereavement, living with frontline workers exposed to coronavirus daily, and separation from fellow students, all while trying to complete their studies, are vivid examples of the ways that the Covid crisis has had disproportionately harsh consequences for people BAME backgrounds and those on lower incomes (Public Health England 2020).
Coinciding with lockdown, students played a central role in the Black Lives Matter protests following the police killing of George Floyd in the US. This brought a renewed and sharpened focus on everyday and systemic racism and additional trauma. In this context, emotions were heightened when interviewing women of colour for her dissertation, as Sultana explains below.
The sudden shift in late-March 2020 to online classes, assessments and exams, and the closure of campus facilities, made studying far more difficult for students, as Adarsh highlights below. Students’ physical and mental health has been seriously impacted, with financial problems exacerbating this for the significant numbers relying on part-time work to support their studies. For the large and often overlooked group of BAME home commuter students, these effects will have been sharpened. Inner city BAME households have been hit hardest, experiencing higher death and sickness rates, as well as harsher impacts in terms of unemployment, loss of income and stress on key workers (Public Health England, 2020). The inner cities have also been at the epicentre of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Here we present some first-hand insights from our vantage point in the heart of East London. As we emerge from lockdown, two of our home commuter students describe their experiences and expectations for the future.
Sultana Azmi, graduated in BSc Accounting and Management, July 2020
Coronavirus entered our lives in an unprecedented way and truly affected us all. For my cohort, the class of 2020, the lockdown not only meant adaptation to online classes, assessments and exams but also the uncertainty of graduation and job prospects. Most of us felt disappointed that we were not able to say proper goodbyes to our friends, academic and non-academic staff who supported us throughout the journey at the university. For many, studying at home was not an easy transition. I know students who did not have proper equipment, whose families were struggling financially and emotionally. Students from ethnic minorities, including myself, had to take on various roles in their household such as taking care of the family members while focusing on completing the degree. Despite help from online services provided by the university, home situations were difficult beyond words.
I personally lost my grandfather to coronavirus and completing my dissertation and degree felt a mountainous task. However, my supervisor ensured I received support to complete my dissertation and achieve a first class. My dissertation was based on the pay disparity between women of colour and their white counterparts in the finance sector and it became relevant to the BLM movement. While interviewing women of colour I could feel the emotions, even if it was through the screen of a computer. In addition, coronavirus had a negative impact on the job market and many students lost their secured graduate schemes, which is truly heart breaking. However, before the lockdown began I was fortunate enough to secure a graduate scheme with the National Audit Office and I am looking forward to start in September albeit from home and not in the office. Nonetheless, the working scenario in the world is changing and adapting to it will be a new journey.
Adarsh Ramchrun, first year degree apprentice, BSc Business Management (Social Change)
The experience of university during lockdown has been strange and difficult because studying at home has been a challenge. Having lectures online at home and the removal of most seminars after lectures has made learning the content arduous; discussions and conversations with our peers enables a deeper engagement and better understanding of the subject. I definitely benefit from studying at university as opposed to home; the environment improves my productivity.
Studying at home has also been tough because I am working from home too, completing a degree apprenticeship. The shift to working from home has been an unusual thing to adjust to, and has impacted my studies. It means I am usually sat down for large portions of the day and had to complete studies or revision in the evening. Compounded by the uncertainty of lockdown, this made for worrying days. However, I am grateful to have worked during the lockdown period and still to have gained valuable experience.
The lockdown brought changes to my family life, as both my parents are key workers, as front line NHS workers in intensive care. This was worrying for my younger sibling and me. In particular, my dad described his dual responsibilities as quite daunting. On one hand, he had to be professional in his job to care for patients, but on the other he was also concerned about passing the virus onto me and the family. But despite the worry, by still working and doing well in my university first year exams, I am confident of my future and prospects beyond this crisis, and I am optimistic about excelling in my studies in the remainder of my course.
As campuses reopen and preparations are made for the new term in September, there are understandable fears about the Covid-security of classrooms, lecture theatres, social spaces and student accommodation. Additionally, new and returning generations of students are likely to have heightened expectations that racism in universities will be properly tackled and student mental health prioritised. Preventing drop-out will be more important than ever, a problem that is already more pronounced among BAME students than for their white peers (OfS, 2018), who on average also go on to gain more First and Upper Second Class degrees (HEFCE, 2018) and higher earnings after graduation (IFS, 2018).
Student retention relates to social and academic integration, and there is much to learn from the US experience. In a study of racially diverse campuses in the US, Xu and Weber (2018) found that, while the absence of an enjoyable learning environment was an important factor in white students’ withdrawal from university, decisions by black and other underrepresented minorities tended to be influenced by the institutional commitment to academic quality, including quality teaching, reasonably-sized classes, and easy access to faculty for advice (Xu & Weber, 2018). Moreover, prioritizing such institutional commitments was shown to significantly reduce students’ overall intentions to withdraw from University. Attention to factors such as teaching quality and access to academic staff may be more challenging for universities to provide when complying with health and safety procedures for Covid prevention.
While the Covid crisis and Black Lives Matter protests have resulted in a growing awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in society, our hope is that these are not exacerbated as universities adjust to cope with Covid and its aftermath. We believe that this is a key moment to implement sustainable solutions aimed at reducing racial disparities for students. While institutional initiatives such as the Race Equality Charter set an important baseline for universities, it has now become ever more important to provide a solid and supportive classroom experience to enable particularly BAME and other commuter students to stay and thrive within the higher education system.
HEFCE (2018), Differences in student outcomes: The effect of student characteristics, Data analysis March 2018/05. Available at: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/31412/1/HEFCE2017_05%20.pdf
IFS (2018), The relative labour market returns to different degrees, Research Report June 2018, Institute for Fiscal Studies/Department of Education, DFE-RR787. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/undergraduate-degrees-relative-labour-market-returns
Maguire D.J. and D. Morris (2018) Homeward Bound: Defining, understanding and aiding 'commuter students, Higher Education Policy Institute, HEPI Report 114, December 2018. Available at: https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/HEPI-Homeward-Bound-Defining-understanding-and-aiding-%E2%80%98commuter-students%E2%80%99-Report-11429_11_18Web-1.pdf
OfS (2018), Topic briefing: Black and minority ethnic (BME) students. Available at: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/145556db-8183-40b8-b7af-741bf2b55d79/topic-briefing_bme-students.pdf
Public Health England (2020), COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes, Research and Analysis Report 2 June 2020. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-review-of-disparities-in-risks-and-outcomes
Xu, Y. J., & Webber, K. L. (2018). College student retention on a racially diverse campus: A theoretically guided reality check. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 20(1), 2-28. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/College-Student-Retention-on-a-Racially-Diverse-A-Xu-Webber/37319d928fe29cea8769f553d70c56c24a1309bf?p2df