The Uneasy Relationship between Corporations and Gender Equality: A Critique of the ‘Transnational Business Feminism’ Project
In Creating Corporate Sustainability. Gender as an Agent for Change, Beate Sjåfjell and Irene Lynch Fannon (eds), Cambridge University Press, 2018
Posted: 16 May 2018
Date Written: May 16, 2018
‘Transnational business feminism’ has been identified by Roberts as a politico-economic project in the last decade. It represents a convergence of a variety of stakeholders (multi-national companies, NGOs, the World Bank and the UN amongst others) on a particular practice or conception of gender equality that is deeply fuelled by arguments of the ‘business case’ for women’s inclusion and representation in economic life and is often built upon essentialist notions of womanhood. This paper suggests that while the growth in interest in gender equality amongst multi and transnational companies has the potential to raise awareness of women’s relative exclusion from and subordination within corporate life, the form of ‘transnational business feminism’ currently in vogue risks reproducing corporate power hierarchies. If the complex and uneasy relationship between companies and women is to be reformed, this requires stakeholders to move beyond simplistic visions of women as a fresh source of competitive and economic advantage and towards the sincere engagement of feminist ideas.
Keywords: transnational, feminism, business case, gender equality
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