Reference : Gender, Work and Positive Actions: Evolution of the Representations of Equal Opportun...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Business & economic sciences : Human resources management
Gender, Work and Positive Actions: Evolution of the Representations of Equal Opportunities on the Belgian Labour Market
Cornet, Annie mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'ULg : UER > Gestion des ressources hum. et management des organisations >]
Rondeaux, Giseline mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'ULg > LENTIC > >]
XVe colloque EGOS
European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS)
[en] HRM ; gender issues ; GRH ; études de genre
[en] Framework of the paper
This paper focuses on the representation of equal opportunities in companies and non-profit organisations identified as having best practices in their human resources policies. Our reflections are based on a inter-universities research made during 1998.
Our primary focus is to study up to what point the actions posed last years under the topic of equality between men and women on the workplaces contributed to modify the representations and the practices of companies and non-profit organisations (such as hospitals, for example).

Research process and questions
To reach that goal, we broke up the research process into two parts:
first : the evaluative processes aimed at encircling what in our cultural context could be compared to 'best practices' in an equal opportunity sense;
second : to test up to what point this concept of equality of chances gets a coverage in the companies and to perceive if the mentality have evolved. The aim here is to see whether the actions set up by the Ministry of Labour and Employment under the topic "positive actions" could have modified the representations around this theme. Is there for example a shift towards the concept of management of diversity like in North America? In short, we tried to see whether, beyond concrete actions which have been undertaken, the values of companies themselves are changing and have evolved.

The methodology we used proceeds from a two-levels process :
• the qualitative level : we made six case-studies in Belgian companies and non-profit organisations. In each case study, we interviewed employers as much as employees. To reach a certain representativity of the companies, we chose some selection criteria: multinational company versus local company, big company versus SME, secondary, tertiary or non-profit sector, predominantly masculine or feminine jobs, low or high qualifications requirements, etc.
• the quantitative level : we made a large investigation by questionnaires on the national scale. We sent those questionnaires to the persons in charge of the Human Resources from 700 companies, and we carried out a statistical processing of the answers.

In addition, we have broaden the perspective by identifying similar initiatives at the level of the European Community, and by exchanging theoretical and bibliographical informations through a transnational network.

The research results reveal that, beyond the concrete actions undertaken, the representations of men and women on the labour market remain strongly linked to the perception of social roles, especially family ones. It seems that there is an agreement around the principle of equal opportunities, but which calls more upon values of equity and justice than of valorisation of women on the labour market or questioning the operating modes of companies. We used in particular Hofstede's concepts of autostereotypes and heterostereotypes within the framework of our analysis. The results of this analysis appear particularly interesting on what is identified as specific competencies, the advantages and the brakes of men and women at the professional level. They also question the opportunity of positive actions and the image these actions have for both men and women.
Laboratoire d'Etudes sur les Nouvelles Technologies de l'Information, la Communication, l'Innovation et le Changement - LENTIC
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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