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Emma Stringfellow

Kirton and Greene (2010) argue that an emphasis on a voluntary, unilateral managerial approach is an “essential dimension” of the (Anglo-Saxon) diversity management (DM) discourse. Diversity management has therefore been criticised as representing a “soft option” for employers, emphasising a top-down, management-led approach and giving managers the power to define problematic areas (Liff 1997; Kirton and Greene 2010). It is questionable, however, whether this applies in continental Europe, where issues of equality are usually regulated through social dialogue or collective bargaining. This chapter compares the unilateral managerial versus social dialogue dimension of diversity management in Sweden, France and Germany. The chapter examines the main actors driving diversity management in each country; what their motivations were for doing so; and how this impacted on the extent of a social dialogue approach. It then looks at the extent and quality of social dialogue on diversity management and what form it has taken – ranging from co-determination at one end of the spectrum (where unions take the leading role in designing and implementing DM policies); through genuinely negotiated agreements on issues directly or indirectly related to promoting diversity; to joint initiatives and projects; to the façade of collective bargaining in which unions are invited to sign or reject agreements without any real negotiation. The chapter then looks at how social dialogue might have shaped diversity management, and vice versa, in each country.

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Gry Agnete Alsos, Ulla Hytti and Elisabet Ljunggren