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Leveraging Tension for Social Change in the Workplace: Social Identity and Activist Types
Keywords: tension, diversity and inclusion, conflict, activism, social justice
Abstract: Tension over issues of diversity and inclusion in workplaces is often debilitating and silencing. However, tension can also provide energy for change. In the current study, we explore how organizational activists, or people passionate about advancing diversity and inclusion in their workplaces, leverage tension in the pursuit of more equitable and just organizations. Based upon interviews and surveys with practitioners, we identify four types of activist profiles: healers, mediators, subversive resistors, and revolutionaries. In the current study, we propose to (1) use qualitative methods and latent cluster analysis to clarify these four distinct approaches and associated strategies, and (2) analyze how aspects of social identity such as race and gender may influence practitioners’ preferred modes of leveraging tension. Ultimately, we hope to construct a tool which would allow people passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion in their organizations to reflect and consider different strategies for leveraging tension.