Managing Resistance to EDI Work From Clients: Strategies of EDI Consultants in Denmark

Caroline Julie Demeyere, Marie Northeved, Emily Louise Thorsson Schöller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Resistance to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work is widespread and threats the EDI work’s outcomes, the changes in actual practices. Previous research has overlooked how this resistance to EDI work unfold in the more and more common client to providers relationships, i.e. when organizations hire external consultants to develop, implement or improve their EDI initiatives. Indeed, most research focuses on internal diversity workers engaged in issue-selling and the resistance they face to legitimize their work inside organizations. Consequently, this paper aims to understand how resistance towards EDI work manifests in the client-consultant relationship and how EDI consultants acknowledge and engage in managing such resistance. We thus take a relational, processual approach on resistance, focusing on the perceptions of resistance by EDI consultants and their strategies to overcome it. Our qualitative methodology is based on semi-directive interviews with EDI consultants in Denmark. The thematic analysis sheds insights on the various and dynamic strategies used by EDI consultants to handle resistance from clients. We conceptualize the strategies for EDI consultants to manage client resistance within a 3-stage cyclical process: 1) managing resistance before consultants meet it, in a preventive perspective, 2) managing resistance in the moment as a response to resistance, and 3) managing resistance after having met it to process and learn from resistance. The findings suggest that consultants learn within the process, i.e. that they utilize and view client resistance as an opportunity for feedback and adaptation of their work. Peer sharing and networking between EDI consultants can expand their repertoire of strategies to address client resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-third Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonia Taneja
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2023: Putting the Worker Front and Center - Boston, United States
Duration: 4 Aug 20238 Aug 2023
Conference number: 83


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings

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