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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23108

Title: Capitalist contradictions in the board room: Corporate elites’ legitimation of gender inequality in times of crisis
Authors: Roos, Hannelore
Zanoni, Patrizia
Scully, Maureen
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: Equal Div@Work Seminar, UHasselt, Belgium, 11/03/2016
Abstract: Legitimation of inequality favours elites and is a bulwark against redistribution. Drawing theoretically on critical discourse analysis, this paper investigates the ideological legitimation of gender inequality on boards of directors by the corporate elite during a legitimation challenge. We interview forty male and female board directors of publicly listed companies in Belgium during the implementation of a state imposed gender quota. Our analysis identifies three legitimating orders of discourse: meritocracy, trust, and freedom of enterprise. They are invoked complementarily by the corporate elite to sustain inequality ideologically, yet their juxtaposition also leads to contradiction. Simultaneously, redistribution is occurring through increased recruitment of women to boards. In this implementation phase, Belgian corporate elites enact “inverse decoupling:” they resist change ideologically while changing their recruitment practice. Our study contributes theoretically by surfacing the elite and its privilege behind ideological discourse, in contrast to studies of ideological discursive struggle in the media. We show the highly ideological, heterogeneous nature of elite legitimation of inequality, as well as its complex relation to corporate governance. By taking this view of the legitimation of inequality and challenges to it, we situate the contemporary issue of women on boards in the broader neo-liberal transformation of capitalism.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23108
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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