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Confronting racism

Synopsis of study co-authored by Dr Kamal Munir of Cambridge Judge Business School cited by Forbes magazine as one of five ‘must-read’ articles for business leaders in confronting racism.

Kamal Munir.
Dr Kamal Munir

The synopsis of a study co-authored by Kamal Munir, Reader in Strategy & Policy and Academic Director of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at Cambridge Judge Business School, is featured in a new article in Forbes magazine as one of five “must-read” articles for every business leader in confronting racism.

The article cites a two-page synopsis of an influential Academy of Management Annals study co-authored by Kamal which summarises more than 300 articles, books and reports on the topic of inequality, and particularly in the workplace. The synopsis is published in Academy of Management Insights.

The study’s authors “highlight five common organisational practices and three myths that reinforce inequality. We encourage you to dig deep into this one. It is well worth the effort!,” says the Forbes article, which is written by Jim Ludema and Amber Johnson of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership at Benedictine University in Illinois.

The five organisational practices cited in the journal article co-authored by Kamal revolve around hiring, promotion, role allocation, compensation and organisational structuring. In hiring, for example, the journal article identifies three mechanisms that promote inequality through hiring: using cultural similarity to simplify candidate evaluations, using recruitment tools that benefit some groups over others, and relying on informal networks in screening and selecting candidates.

The three myths cited in the journal article involve efficiency, meritocracy and positive globalisation. Efficiency, for example, “refers to the false premise that adoption of efficiency-enhancing practices is what leads to organisational success”, say Kamal and his journal co-authors. This implies that certain issues will be resolved through the “relentless march toward efficiency,” but the consequence is a system of “taken-for-granted ways of operating” – so, for example, “the vast gap in compensation between CEO and median worker salaries is seen to be an outcome of competitive forces rather than other factors.”

The study in the Academy of Management Annals – entitled “The organizational reproduction of inequality” – is co-authored by Dr John M. Amis of the University of Edinburgh; Professor Johanna Mair of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and co-director of the Global Innovation for Impact Lab at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society; and Dr Kamal A. Munir, Reader in Strategy & Policy at Cambridge Judge Business School.