Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Organisational approaches to flexible working: Perspectives of equality and diversity managers in the UK

an article by Jean Gardiner and Jennifer Tomlinson (Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds) published in Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal Volume 28 Issue 8 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to, first, explore flexible working as an important but under-researched dimension of equality and diversity (E&D) and, second, contribute to employment relations debates by exploring organisational perspectives on flexible working and how these connect with business strategies and the regulatory context.
In depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 E&D managers in ten public and private sector organisations. Interviews explored the role of E&D managers in the construction of flexible working arrangements (FWAs) and drivers underpinning them.
Flexible working was most evident as a significant field of E&D practice where E&D was linked into business strategy and was well resourced. The key roles of E&D managers in relation to FWAs were policy innovation and monitoring. Four organisational rationales for FWAs were identified from the data. These were FWA constructed as: an individual employee benefit; a means of improving operational effectiveness; an integral part of organisational strategy; and as a means of addressing structural social inequalities.
Research limitations/implications
While the sample is small, the research is of value to both researchers and policy makers, offering insights on an under-researched area of E&D policy and practice.
Practical implications
This paper outlines different rationales for flexible working and shows how some organisations are able to develop flexible working policies that are more equitable and effective than other organisations.
The originality lies in the use of E&D managers as informants of organisational approaches to FWAs, which to date has been under-researched in terms of its connection with E&D policy and practice.

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