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Dispersed and diffuse forms of diversity activism v. Annika Skoglund, Division of Industrial Engineering and Management, Uppsala University, Sweden, and The University of Exeter Business School, UK

With the changing political landscape, bereft of the political subject as we knew it, activism is not only suggested to be depoliticized and more diffuse, but also dispersed to various arenas. In the wake of this ongoing transformation of activism, my presentation will focus on the intermingling of diversity management and politics present in ’insider activism’ and ’employee activism’.

The first example on ‘insider activism’, i.e. activism enacted by acclaimed apolitical public officials within state agencies, is located at Uppsala University, the department of Engineering Sciences, steeped in traditions and limited imaginations about gender since 1477. By mobilizing a minoritarian aesthetics via action research, I transformed a unisex and thereby presumed gender neutral toilet into an all-gender-inclusive toilet, or so called hir-toilet. I then invited colleagues, students and the Swedish media to the inauguration staged with the help of a performance artist with expertise in futuristic gender expressions. The analysis exposes how the action deeply disturbed settled ideas about binary gender categories within the organization and beyond, and sheds light on how activism is policed when it is pursued externally to the civil society sphere.

The second example about ’employee activism’ is based on my video ethnographic research about the Hungarian technology company Prezi, and their incessive ambition to change the Hungarian society. Not only is Prezi’s CEO strategically targeting the limitation of imaginations about gender and a realization thereof, but via an NGO spin-off and voluntary Prezi employees, the company also brings the struggle to a broader array of neglected diversity issues in contemporary Hungarian society and work life. By showing snippets from a videography (2018, 57 min) where some Prezi employees march in the Pride parade, I will open up for discussions about the link between CEO activism, employee activism and corporate activism – all seemingly thriving on the prosperous surface of diversity management at the same time as a diffuse form of activism is dispersed.