The face of the firm: the impact of employer branding on diversity

Juliet Kele, Catherine Cassell

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Abstract

Drawing upon an employer branding lens to help explore and inform our understanding of the marketing of workforce diversity, here we argue that diversity is understood and used in an aesthetic and commercialised way, rather than with a focus upon the inclusion of disadvantaged groups. Our analysis of the marketing and diversity practices of four SME law firms demonstrates a continued access-and-legitimacy approach to diversity (Ely and Thomas, 2001): that a desire for successful employer branding still supersedes organisational commitment to equal opportunities and diversity management in practice. We argue that this commercialised approach leads to several contradictions, which in turn, reproduce the market-based perspective of diversity, relegating employees primarily into the aesthetics of race and gender and the affiliated skills and resources. In theorising the processes by which diversity is undermined and functions solely to enhance business image and increase organisational performance, we highlight how an employer branding lens enables us to identify and understand contradictions between diversity policy and practice in a different way, by linking aesthetics with the marketing of the brand.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Early online date24 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2022

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