16 June 2022

Vulnerable feelings such as feeling being excluded or as an outsider can be transformed into strength for change and care for others when organizations provide an open and supportive climate.

Woman that closes her eyes and has her hands on her face, she looks sad and tired.
Jay Yuno

Janet Johansson is a senior lecturer in business administration at LiU, her latest article with a care ethics perspective shows what it can be like to feel "different" in an organization which vigorously works on equality and diversity. The article provides a critical view of instrumental diversity management and it explores how ethical agency, as "other-oriented" caring, emerged from feelings of being "different".

By analyzing interview material from an ethnographic study, Johansson and Wickström centralize the relationship between feelings of being ‘different,’ vulnerability and the development of sensibilities, practices and imaginaries of care.

This article is about how to care for each other by talking about feelings.

They elaborate on how vulnerability serves as a ground for caring with rather than for others, and illustrate how it allowed individuals to challenge both organizational, normative diversity discourses and essentialisation of differences. Their work contributes to the literature on critical diversity management by furthering problematisations of instrumental diversity management from the perspective of care, and to the organizational literature on feminist care ethics by empirically exploring how ethical agency emerges from tensions related to feeling ‘different.’

While previous studies have shown how marginalized individuals use their sense of ‘otherness’ to negotiate, conform to and resist organizational norms, practices and discourses, Johansson and Wickström provide further insights on how it also can drive concern and care for others, and thus serve as possible ground for ethical change initiatives within organizations.

- We develop how vulnerability works as a basis for "caring". The article illustrates how it is permissible for individuals to challenge both organizational, normative diversity discourses and the essentialisation of those who are "different" from the norm. Janet Johansson a portrait of a woman.Janet Johansson.

- This article is about how to care for each other by talking about feelings.

In her research, Janet has followed people within a performing arts company.

- My research focuses on ethics and diversity. Even though I have discussed this topic in the performing arts, it is fully applicable in other organizational settings. Ethical research is needed to give work life and organisations insight and new perspectives. This is important in our industry, too, given that employees may come from different cultural backgrounds and of different ethnic - characteristics.

This particular article does not focus on gender though it is applicable because it is not uncommon for women to feel "different” in traditional, male dominated organizations.

- When you belong to a minority, you can feel vulnerable. In a workplace, you must be integrated though it can be a struggle. Therefore, it is important that an organization provides an open and inclusive climate where employees feel free to express their vulnerable feelings without being repressed and punished, and they can activate the emotive resources such as empathy and sympathy toward each other for ethical change initiatives within the organization.

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