Working paper
Family responsibilities discrimination, HR work-family discourse and organizational mediation of US civil rights law
LIEPP Working Paper
ROBIN Stryker - University of Arizona (Author)
HEIDI Reynolds-Stenson - University of Arizona (Author)
KRISTA Frederico - University of Arizona (Author)
Paris : Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies
LIEPP Working Paper : 70
work-family, family responsabilities discrimination (FRD), caregiver discrimination, motherhood penalty, cognitive bias, gender stereotyping
Because the US addresses work-family concerns mostly through voluntary employer-provided benefits combined with anti-discrimination legislation, organizational mediation of law shapes the content and impact of employ-ers’ response to employees’ work- family issues. Centrality of organiza-tional mediation means centrality of HR professional discourse. Given skyrocketing lawsuits claiming family responsibilities discrimination (FRD), we examine FRD-related discourse, 1980-2012, in the two highest circulation HR journals, situating analysis within a theoretical model of organizational mediation. Anti-discrimination law and the HR profession’s pre-FRD role combine to provide incentives and resources shaping HR journal work-family discourse. Discourse employs multiple frames includ-ing business case, accommodation, diversity, and compliance, to motivate employer response to employees’ work-family issues. Business case fram-ing predominates. But consistent with HR professionals’ dual mission of catering to top management’s concern for the bottom line while also ad-dressing employees’ concerns, all four frames are used, in varying combi-nations, in complementary fashion. Articles employing a diversity frame are most likely to acknowledge the gendered nature of family responsibili-ties, but articles employing the business case frame acknowledge the gen-dered nature of family responsibilities more than half the time. Motivating frames are differentially associated with discussion of policies shown by prior research to promote gender and mother-other equality. Business case framing is associated with discussion of equality-producing policies far more—and compliance framing far less—than prior research would have anticipated. To the extent that HR motivating frames do promote policies that prior research suggests increase gender equality, HR media-tion of FRD law can enhance gender equality.