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Affirmative Action in Australia: A Consensus-Based Dialogic Approach

Valerie Braithwaite and Janine Bush
NWSA Journal
Vol. 10, No. 3, Affirmative Action Reconsidered (Autumn, 1998), pp. 115-134
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4316604
Page Count: 20
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Affirmative Action in Australia: A Consensus-Based Dialogic Approach
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Abstract

This paper reviews Australia's affirmative action legislation and shows how processes of consensus building, strategic alliances, and dialog have been used to encourage organizations to look more critically at their work practices, and introduce policies and procedures that provide as many opportunities for women as have been traditionally provided for men. The legislation is unusual in that it operates independently of anti-discrimination legislation and mandates affirmative action programs for all large workplaces while explicitly upholding the principle of merit. The assumption of early advocates of the legislation was that once organizations underwent the mandatory eight steps of critical self-analysis and appraisal, workplace culture and values would change, and in this process, movement to gender-fair constructions of merit would be inevitable. While some organizations have shown both capacity and willingness to rethink work practices, many have escaped the net of social change. Those that have been influenced substantively through their compliance with the legislation share the following qualities: commitment to a "fair go for women," linking of EEO with good management practice, openness to ideas outside the organization, and the active participation of women within the organization.

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