Diversity Paper Presentations: Abstracts

Dr Alice Donald and Dr Erica Howard

Diversity: but what about clashing rights? Freedom of religion or belief and equality for LGBT people

Diversity is about treating everyone fairly regardless of a number of characteristics including religion and sexual orientation. But the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation can come into (apparent) conflict with the right to freedom of religion and belief and the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination on the ground of religion or belief. In recent years, there have been legal cases about people refusing to do part of their job because they do not want to work with homosexual people because they believe that homosexuality is against God’s law, for example marriage registrars who do not want to perform civil partnership or marriage ceremonies between same-sex people.

How can such a situation of apparent conflict be avoided? In this presentation we will propose a framework for the practical resolution of these situations of apparent conflict, based on international human rights law and case law. We will also propose some ground rules for negotiating a practical solution. These human rights based principles should be used not only within courts and tribunals but also in the wider public sphere, for example by universities, where an apparent conflict might arise. Conflicts should, wherever possible, be solved before they reach the courts because litigation tends to magnify underlying tensions and differences and puts parties in opposite corners each stressing their own identities or characteristics.

Dr Leena Helevaara Robertson

Reconceptualising  and Challenging “Superdiversity” – An Education Setting Responding to Linguistic Complexities

Drawing on migration studies Vertovec (2006; 2009) shows how ‘diversity’ has diversified over the last two decades and uses London as an example of ‘superdiversity’ to refer to a dynamic interplay of variables among an increasing number of multiple-origin, transnationally connected and socio-economically differentiated people who have arrived as migrants in recent years. Blommaert (2010) and Arnaut, Blommaert and Harris (2015), who draw on sociolinguistics, offer the term ‘superdiversity’ as a theoretical lens through which the focus can shift from discussing plurality to addressing complexity.

This paper is based on a case-study of an early years setting in London that can be characterised by mobility, change and complexity. The focus of this one-year long, ethnographic research study was to examine and analyse the support provided for multilingual nursery children and their families and their multilingualism. Staff and families – mostly mothers and grandmothers – were interviewed during the year to hear their views of children growing up multilingually. The teacher also kept a journal for documenting discussions with families.

The paper argues that within the growing recognition of societal superdiversity, there is a danger that this acceptance conceals the lack of diversity in thinking in educational policy and in pedagogical practice in terms of multilingualism. This seems to be true to all phases of education, from early years to higher education. Fishman’s (2004) tensions between macro-level linguistic demands of the host society (that is, learning English) and micro level wishes and hopes of individual learners and their the families (that is, learning English and keeping home languages alive) can still be seen as opposing, binary forces. Rather than complementary, dialectical forces. During the year the case-study families and the teacher were pushed into a choice of letting home languages begin to fade away; a choice that they should not have needed to make..

Superdiversity needs a reconceptualisation to include a recognition of ideologies and structures that are used to legitimate monolingualising policies and practice.

Kerri Jefferis and Suzanne van Rossenberg

Queering sites of learning

In the Winter term of 2016 we ran the first edition of the extra-curricular, interdisciplinary module ‘LGBT Politics in your practice’ recognized through the university’s new ROLE (Recognition of Learning from Experience) modules. In this paper we would like to look back at the activities and contextualise the outcomes. The six-week module consisted of weekly workshops, discussions, presentations by artists and lecturers, visits to locations and a one-week queer occupation of the Atrium in the Grove building. Also the students had the opportunity to participate in the Winter Pride Awards exhibition. The module coincided with UK’s LGBT History Month and was supported by the Centre for Academic Practice Enhancement (CAPE). Participating students and staff members were from a mixture of disciplines, like Fine Art, Graphic Design, Journalism and Creative Writing, Fashion Communication, Textiles and Visual Culture.

In our presentation we will discuss the relevance and function of a module that revolved around LGBTIQ research and topics. Set out as an Art and Design module, it dealt with the political-epistemological dimension of producing knowledge through inter- or transdisciplinarity, combining different disciplines and practice and theory. Simultaneously, the module created —literal— space for different practice, research and ways of teaching. It formed a non-hierarchal kind of student and staff recognition and (peer) support —a ‘queer space’ that both groups experienced as great additional value. Therefore, it was decided to continue the meetings after the module. Lastly, the module became a platform for cross-departmental interaction and communication, temporarily intersecting and supporting the activities of the LGBT Staff Forum and the LGBT Students’ Assembly.

Professor T C Melewar

Managing diversity: Muslim consumers in Turkey by Tugra Nazli Akarsu, T C Melewar, Pantea Foroudi and Olga Mourouti

Islam has become a highly prominent topic in the media since it has been spotlighted as a political debate after 9/11, Arab Spring and Middle East crisis (Fawcett, 2013). However, beyond this, Islam is a phenomenon with its effect on every aspects of human experiences, shaping Muslim individuals’ everyday life through its practices and principles by providing them a common ethos, sense of belonging and a unique identity (Karatas and Sandikci, 2013; Sandikci and Jafari, 2013; Yavuz, 2004).  Regardless of the significance of religion, a notable amount of marketing literature has considered religion as a segmentation variable by comparing them with consumers belongs to other religions to identifying their purchase decisions (Delener, 1990; Hirschman, 1983) or consumption patterns (Hirschman, 1983; Sood and Nasu, 1995).

Due to the complex and multi dimensional structure of religion, there is a critical distinction between religious affiliation and religiosity: religious affiliation is the adherence of individuals to a particular religion whereas religiosity is mainly a behavioural and psychological phenomenon providing the degree of beliefs practiced by individuals (Mansori et al., 2015; McDaniel and Burnett, 1990; Sood and Nasu, 1995). Therefore, it can be said Islam provides the identification of individuals’ religious affiliation, whereas being Muslim gives the sentiment of being a “… distinctive subgroup of society that self-selects on the basis of a shared commitment to a particular product class, brand or consumption activity.” (Schouten and Alexander, 1995, p. 43) By ignoring the fact that Muslims are like a mosaic in respect to their diverse cultural and lifestyle differences as well as the degree of their religiosity (Sandikci and Jafari, 2013; Temporal, 2011), considering Muslim consumers as a homogeneous entity or having a stereotypical vision of a monolithic Muslim society rather than embracing and recognizing Muslims with its diversity can emerge a deception when investigating the consumers in the marketplace (Jafari, 2012; Temporal, 2011). Therefore, the very first aim of this study is to adopt the diversity of Muslim consumers in Turkey consumption space while investigating the concepts of brand sensuality and brand experience and the mediator effect of Muslim identities since “consumers can be connected to a brand because it represents who they are or because it is meaningful in light of goals, personal concerns, or life projects” (Park et al., 2010, p. 2) as brands and religiosity are good substitutes for each other because “they both allow individuals to express their feelings of self- worth” (Shachar, 2011, p.1).  Since Turkey is secular and perceived as being embraced “market friendly Islam” (Yavuz, 2004, p.214) country, it has a valuable potential for global brands to penetrate the marketplace. Therefore, understanding the diversity of Muslim consumers in Turkey consumption space could be the best way to capture the insights of consumer and focusing brand related constructs could illustrate how Muslim consumers react the branding stimuli.

Dr Doirean Wilson

Respecting Spiritual Identity at Work: A 21st Century Cultural Viewpoint

Globalisation today is the omen of cheaper air fares, hence the growth in the movements of different people across the world in pursuit of a better life. Workforces are now rich with those of multiple spiritual and cultural identities, topics that still remain an enigma. Although research evidence suggests that spirituality is no longer taboo in academe, strong cultural norms consider issues of spirituality to be a private matter both in and outside of the workplace. Hitherto, what are the implications of multiple spiritual and cultural identities for those working in multicultural-teams in businesses operating in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) climates? This paper aims to answer this question, by exploring the concept of spiritual identity vis-à-vis culture. It draws on a study of cultural meanings of respect for multidisciplinary final-year undergraduate business students as future business cadre, enrolled at a London-based university with learners who reflect world nationalities. These students were required to work in culturally-diverse teams of 4-6 individuals of spiritual difference to identify real business solutions. The findings focused on group dynamics and processes, collated via focus group discussions of emerging shared-stories of respect and disrespect. Verbal and non-verbal data were analysed from audio-visual recordings of the focus-group conversations. The analysis revealed a need for leaders today to understand and respect the spiritual identities of their culturally diverse workers. And that respect is often taken for granted and can be perceived as disrespect in another culture, hence little understanding of its true meaning for those of difference. When disrespect occurred it was interpreted as intentional leading to conflict. This process unearthed cultural meanings of respect that addressed misinterpretations, fostering team-harmony, improving learning outcomes and performance. This paper considers the implications of promoting awareness of cultural respect for enhancing business sustainability, adding to diversity debates today.

 Professor Anne Daguerre

Accommodation of Muslim minorities in higher education in Britain and France

The fractious relationship between state and religion is once again at the core of identity politics in Europe. In Western Europe, there has been renewed cultural and political anxiety regarding the perceived threat of Islam to a distinctively European secular consensus (Cesari 2013). This secular consensus presents the following characteristics: 1- an individualised view of religion, where spiritual beliefs are a matter of individual thought and conscience; 2- the socio-political expectation that religion should be kept separate from law and politics; and 3- the predominance of cultural and communal symbols linked to the traditional majority religion, i.e., the Christian faith (McCrea 2013). As pointed out by Modood (2015), because Muslims demands can exceed Christian requirements in terms of claims for public recognition and respect, this can lead to tensions with some groups weary of what they perceive as ‘religionising’ the public sphere. In higher education, these tensions can be especially acute because universities have a traditional secular culture in which criticizing the religious is not considered to be offensive, especially in France. The paper aims to address two questions. First, does the construction of a ‘Muslim issue’ in higher education represent a sub-category of the broader politicization of Islam and associated public anxieties and fears – including the much charged Islamophobia and counter Islamophobia claims? Second, to what extent do these political debates reflect alleged tensions between secular and religious ‘camps’ within higher education? Or are such controversies disconnected from the mundane reality of university management practices, with Islam being one relatively small element of competing demands for greater recognition and accommodation from diverse parts of the student body? The proposed paper will explore recent public debates concerning Muslim students in higher education in Britain and France.

Emma Dick

Empowering women in fashion and textiles globally: enabling strategies for diversity in the global fashion and textiles industry

This paper examines women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship and creative industries across borders and modes of enabling strategies for diversity throughout the business of fashion and textiles. The presentation focuses on training programmes developed by SPINNA Circle in Central Asia as a case study, creating market linkages and developing networks for women entrepreneurs in textiles through skills exchange in creative pattern cutting. The training was funded by USAID-REC, supported by Middlesex University and delivered by Kiran Gobin and Emma Dick, both from the

Fashion Directorate in the School of Art & Design.

The paper examines how the exchange of creative skills builds the foundation for new peer supportive communities which transcend national and regional borders and connect women artisans and entrepreneurs globally. Through building and developing occupational networks of women artisans and entrepreneurs across Central Asia and connecting them to members and businesses worldwide, SPINNA Circle works to empower women in fashion and textiles globally, thus enabling fulfillment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

We discuss how new cross-border linkages and strategies for trans-cultural diversity are being enabled and developed through skills sharing and collaboration, and propose that by connecting skilled female artisans and entrepreneurs to each other, this emerging networked space has the power to bring diverse communities and individuals together. In this way, geopolitical borders might be re-imagined through the power of the personal and professional connection.

New dynamic flows of objects and ideas are being created within the Central Asian region. Existing historic structures, borders and conventional value chains in the global fashion and textiles industries are being examined, reevaluated and re-articulated, and new trade connections, aesthetic forms and modes of doing business being established. The multi-dimensional space in between becomes a dynamic and productive zone with the potential to significantly enhance the livelihoods of women and communities living within the region of the Central Asian borderlands and to expand their connections to global peers in design, craft and entrepreneur communities worldwide.

Maria Adamson and Elisabeth Kelan

Questioning Contemporary Role Models: Celebrity Business Women the Corporate Feminist?

Recent years have seen the rise of attention to the exploration of female role models and their ability to aid a much needed increase in the number of women in work and managerial positions. While the significance of female role models for the increase of the number of women in leadership positions is a regularly rehearsed argument, little is known about the kind of behaviour, traits and characteristics role models actually ‘model’. Prior research suggests that women are indeed inspired by outstanding women (Lockwood 2006: p 290). However, Sealy and Singh (2010) highlight that female role models may be rejected by women depending on the kind of femininity they model, e.g. childless businesswomen tend to be discarded by women as role models. Eriksson-Zetterquist (2008) suggest that women build positive ‘mental constructs’ that contain  combined traits of different people therefore there is a need for a variety of models. Yet, Hopfl (2010: 403) has argued that the range of contemporary female role models is limited as they mainly model masculine behaviour and trajectory, and that the figure of a ‘formidable woman’ is disappearing. Interestingly though, many contemporary business celebrities recently appear to advocate seemingly feminist virtues and female advancement. Using discourse analysis methodology, this paper looks at autobiographies of popular female business leaders who have ‘celebrity’ status and who may be perceived by women as potential role models by women to find out the type of attitudes, behaviours, characteristics and values they construct as desirable in business. We explore these narratives through the lens of postfeminist sensibility (Gill, 2007; McRobbie, 2006) and raise questions of how and to what extent such forms of executive feminism can challenge systematic gender inequalities.


Roger Kline – The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard: An evidence based response to deep seated NHS workforce race discrimination

The NHS is the largest UK employer of black and minority ethnic (BME) people. 20% of NHS staff are from BME backgrounds. BME staff are treated less favourably in recruitment, promotion, treatment, discipline and career progression. (Kline 2013, Kline 2014, West and Dawson 2015).

The Macpherson Inquiry prompted the 2004 NHS Race Equality Action Plan which. though characterised  by ministerial support and initial success, failed in its aim to change leadership demographics.

New research (e.g. West and Dawson 2009, 2011, 2012) demonstrates good correlations between the treatment of staff, and patient experience and outcomes, and in particular, the links between patient experience and the treatment of BME staff.  This provides a powerful business case for tackling discrimination to improve patient care, supplemented by evidence that diversity in leadership benefits innovation and the likelihood that NHS organisations whose leadership resembles that of the communities being served may be more sensitive to their health needs.

Priest et al (2015) and West and Dawson (2015) suggest that the previous reliance on policies, procedures, training and exhortation to tackle workforce discrimination were, in isolation, the least successful strategies to tackle workforce discrimination. Their work, and the new business case, led to the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), which combines a mandatory element with measurable benchmarked outcomes and the sharing of best practice. The nine WRES metrics draw on workforce and staff survey data and board composition data.

Dr Leandro Sepulveda and Professor Stephen Syrett

Re-thinking economic development in an age of diversity

The trend towards cities having increasingly diverse population is now a well-established phenomenon in the global North and South. Within this context, the presence of a culturally and ethnically diverse population is frequently considered as one of the defining features of contemporary world cities like London, New York, Paris and Toronto and an asset that can be economically exploited. Yet what has been significant over the last thirty years has been the growing level of population mobility and this has seen not just an increase in the scale of population flows, but also changes in the origins, destinations, and composition. The result is greater diversity where past populations had been more homogenous.

The presence of increasingly diverse population has a number of impacts upon the processes of economic development. Diverse populations bring with them a range of potential benefits as well as costs. Yet political, and indeed academic, debate often seeks to polarise these, to promote rather simplistic readings of diversity as either inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The reality is more complex and fascinating.

This paper provides a comprehensive treatment of the subject of population diversity and economic development in urban economies. It draws together analysis and debates from across different academic fields such as migration, labour market, small business and enterprise, creativity and innovation, diaspora relations and business networks and diverse built environments, and illustrates these with evidence from London. In particular it reflects upon the experience of ‘old’ and ‘new’ migrant entrepreneurs and assumes that the more ‘cosmopolitan outlook’ acquired by global cities in recent years is reflected not only in an ever-broadening range of ‘exotic’ goods and services available on the high street of global cities but also through migrant entrepreneurs themselves introducing their products, symbols and traditions by establishing business ventures and in so doing transforming the economic geography of cities and the profile of local economies.

Professor Stephen Syrett and Dr Janroj Yilmaz Keles  – Diasporas, identity and enterprise: Conceptualising politicised ethnic entrepreneurship

This paper extends the scope of existing theoretical understanding of ethnic and transnational entrepreneurship to identify the phenomenon of politicised ethnic entrepreneurship. It argues that within certain predominantly stateless diasporic groups, entrepreneurial activity is embedded within the development of a politicised ethnic identity and economy which has remained largely unexamined. For diaspora groups that lack any ‘home’ nation state, such as the Kurds, Tamils, Palestinians and Sikhs, the development of entrepreneurial ventures is informed by, and intimately related to, the evolution of a highly ethnically politicised diasporic identity, which contributes to the development of a wider transnational ethnic economy organised around a diasporic consciousness, identity and cross-national solidarity. Through theoretical examination of the interplay between transnational enterprise, diasporas and identity, the paper identifies the defining characteristics of politicised ethnic entrepreneurship and sets out a conceptual model for understanding its emergence and development. This theoretical model provides a platform for empirical study and has implications for policy development.


Professor Kurt Barling

Provocations on Race and Professor Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Leading newspaper columnist Professor Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in conversation with Professor Kurt Barling former BBC Special Correspondent and author of two recent books on terrorism and race.   Can Britain move beyond the skin debate and leave Race behind?  In his book The R Word Barling argues race is a myth which has a firm grip on our imaginations.  Alibhai-Brown argues Racism is still rampant.  Its a discussion that promises fireworks.  Come along and join in the debate about how we can make diversity matter.