International Handbook on Diversity Management at Work
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International Handbook on Diversity Management at Work

Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment

Edited by Alain Klarsfeld

Managing and developing diversity is on the political and business agenda in many countries; therefore diversity management has become an area of knowledge and practice in its own right. Yet all too often it is referred to as a unifying concept, as if it were to be interpreted uniformly across all cultures and countries. The contributors to this volume expertly examine the relationship between diversity management and equality legislation within the different participating countries’ national contexts. They advocate that such separation and sequencing between equality at work and diversity management is far from natural.
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Chapter 3: Diversity Management in Belgium

Annie Cornet and Patrizia Zanoni


Annie Cornet and Patrizia Zanoni Introduction This chapter presents the specificity of diversity and diversity management in Belgium. It addresses the need to further development of a more contextualized understanding of the diversity concept and approaches to its management. The diversity literature is today flourishing, yet the vast majority of studies remain based in the USA. Notwithstanding the important differences between the USA and other countries in the composition of the labour force, the nature of the applicable legislation, and the public debate around diversity, too often the US understanding of diversity is simply assumed to apply elsewhere (Konrad et al., 2006; Prasad et al., 2006). Belgium is a small European country with a federal structure. Its main regions, Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels-Capital, are characterized by distinct socioeconomic and political profiles. As a result, diversity has partially distinct meanings and is managed in partially differing ways in the different regions. In this chapter, we shall provide an overview of the specificity of diversity at the country level and complement it with relevant information at the regional level. As in many other European countries, diversity management became a hot topic in Belgium only around the turn of the century. Previously, diversity did not feature in the Belgian public debate on employment, which focused on the so-called ‘groups at risk’, such as the low educated and long-term unemployed (Lamberts et al., 2005). The concept of diversity emerged due to a combination of factors including changing labour market demographics, public diversity initiatives at...

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