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|Zebras Showing their Stripes: A Critical Sensemaking Study of the Discursive Construction and Gendering of CSR Leaders
|Dr. Kay Devine, Dr. Jean Helms Mills, Dr. Gabrielle Durepos
|Dr. Kelly Dye
|Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
|Faculty of Business
|corporate social ressponsibility
|This thesis presents a feminist poststructuralist study of gender equity in the context of female corporate social responsibility (CSR) leaders in Canada. I draw on the poststructuralist theoretical and methodological approaches of critical discourse analysis and critical sensemaking to uncover how language and power dynamics create inequity through forms of texts. By problematizing seemingly neutral discourses, I locate the hidden discourses and discursive practices that are constructed through women’s perceptions of social interactions at the leadership level that may serve as discriminatory barriers toward women. Hence, I contribute to a small but growing body of feminist critical literature that calls for a need to change the current paradigms of CSR leadership.
This two-part study deconstructs texts in the Canadian newspaper press and then, based on interviews with female CSR leaders, examines the hidden discourses and enactment of power and influence, to distinguish specific processes that can lead to institutional change. The discourses presented in the newspaper articles in the last 40 years have consistently reproduced powerful organizational rules that set limitations on the behaviour and sensemaking of individuals. My analysis of the interviews reveals how individuals respond to well-established “rules of the game” with which they must contend. Despite operating within a gendered system wherein men’s power continues to be pervasive and persistent, the female CSR leaders interviewed all, either subtly or overtly, challenge discriminatory practices in their workplaces. Through engaging in micro-processes of resistance, they show strong sense of identity that translates into a strong sense of obligation to contribute to society in a meaningful way.
I offer a story that is empirically sensitive and reveals impressions and interpretations that, I hope, encourage the reader to pause and consider taken-for-granted biases, truths, and meanings that have silenced some voices and privileged others.
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