Internationally, academic hospitals are giving increasing attention to diversity management. This paper sheds light on the actual praxis of cultural diversity management by professionals in workplace interactions. An ethnographic study in a Dutch academic hospital showed that normalization practices were obscuring diversity issues and obstructing inclusion of cultural minority professionals. The normalization of professionalism-as-neutral and equality-as-sameness informed the unequal distribution of privilege and disadvantage among professionals and left no room to question this distribution. Majority and minority professionals disciplined themselves and each other in (re)producing an ideal worker norm, essentialized difference and sameness, and explained away the structural hierarchy involved. To create space for cultural diversity in healthcare organizations in the Netherlands and beyond, we need to challenge normalization practices.
- Academic hospitals
- Cultural diversity
- Ideal worker norm
- Reification of difference/sameness