UN-Doing Differences. Towards Creating and Managing Capabilities

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Feriha ÖZDEMIR, University of Siegen, Germany
With regards to the challenge of shortage of skilled workers especially for SMEs as engines of the German economy, companies depend on creative employees as key actors. Nevertheless, demographic change is perceptible so that the labour integration of resident immigrants and women become more important. But doing differences in the labour market in sense of discrimination persist. To counter this, diversity management is a possible tool but predominantly used by bigger enterprises. However, managing diversity makes differences visible and is therefore considered critically.

Statistics state persisting occupational segregation which contributes to a gender pay gap. This challenge is not only identified as a gender problem, it also reveals a social one and depends on the interaction of different social power structure of the dominant groups, especially by reducing the number of women at higher levels of the career hierarchy facing a glass ceiling. According to Hartmann (2004), career opportunities are defined by social origin, cultural capital and upper class habitus which are responsible for social reproduction. These issues are hidden in the discourse of managing diversity in business.

This qualitative research examined diversity activities in German SMEs and shows that diversity management is in very little usage by SMEs. Besides, it was also examined the challenges of mastering the transition into occupation of higher educated women in Germany additionally with foreign origins. The results tend to underline inequalities in career paths predicated by social constructions ethnicity, gender and social milieu – also defined as categories of inequality. In terms of the research lack of implementing Nussbaum´s Capability Approach (2012) on the meso level, promoting capabilities and competences of employees are key policies. Every enterprise should be able to design a framework to support development of capabilities defined as enlargement of freedom in sense of real and available opportunities.