Diversity and inclusion management: an analysis of practice developments in Italy

  • Silvia Ravazzani
  • Alessandra Mazzei
  • Chiara Fisichella
  • Alfonsa Butera
Keywords: diversity management; inclusion; equality; valuing people; macro-national system; organizational context

Abstract

Frame: Diversity and inclusion management is a fast-growing concept and practice in Italy. An analysis of practice developments requires focusing on the Italian contextual change (i.e., macro-national trends) while also considering organizational-specific conditions.

Purpose: To explore how diversity and inclusion management is currently understood and acted upon in the Italian workplace, taking into consideration practice developments.

Methodology: Two case studies of large, multinational companies operating in Italy based on interviews and documentary analysis.

Results: The comprehension and practices related to diversity and inclusion in Italy are evolving towards a leveraging variety perspective to increase innovation and competition outcomes. Furthermore, a nuanced and holistic approach emerges, embracing the variety of the whole person for motivation and wellbeing purposes too. Finally, to manage the risk of losing a shared purpose of the organizing process coming from heterogeneity, internal variety is valued by balancing the need for coherence and unity of action with a culture of diversity and an inclusive language, integrating diversity and inclusion management into core processes and implementing it as part of the company mission.

Research limitations: More cases should be analysed to delve further into current approaches and explanatory contingency factors.

Practical Implications: Organizations should base their approach to diversity and inclusion on nation- and organization-focused sensitivity, considering among others legal and societal expectations and restraints as well as organizational priorities and culture. Furthermore, organizations should adopt ad hoc practices to balance the tensions between the quest for heterogeneity and the quest for a shared purpose.

Originality: This article contributes to diversity research outside of the US, which is much needed. In particular, it scrutinizes practice developments in Italy by building on previous studies carried out in this country according to a longitudinal perspective. Moreover, it offers a detailed qualitative examination accounting for organizational contextual elements too.

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Published
2021-12-28