The Benevolent Manager: Practices of Unwanted Discrimination in the Recruitment of Migrant Workers

Lotte Holck, Laurence Romani

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This ethnographic study inquires why unequal opportunities persist in a Swedish international organization despite its commitment to diversity and employing highly skilled migrant workers. By observing evaluation decisions in a recruitment process in ‘real time and space’, we uncover how ethnic minorities (refugees, nonEuropean migrants, etc.) are constructed and reproduced as deficient and lacking essential traits, skills and experiences taking majority Swedes’ competences as the tacit norm. The findings show that despite the organization’s efforts to recruit and act ‘color-blind’ (racially non-biased), the decision makers’ apparent prejudices inflict on how ethnic minorities are perceived and evaluated and hence the job possibilities they are offered in the organization. The novelty of the study is twofold. First, it builds on observation of recruitment processes (interview, assessment meeting), which is very difficult to access. Second, while well-documented in gender studies, practices of tacit reproduction of an implicit norm in evaluation and recruitment are less frequent in studies of diversity and race. The contributions from this study touch upon recruitment practices and how ethnicity has been surprisingly absent from the (European) critical recruitment literature. Implications for practitioners recommend to avoid a color-blind approach, but rather, to accept and address the existing prejudice by embracing a norm critical approach.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership 2017: Leadership Challenges that Matter - University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Duration: 15 Mar 201716 Mar 2017
Conference number: 4


ConferenceThe 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership 2017
LocationUniversity of Pretoria
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
Internet address

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