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The Economic Benefit Discourse in the Swiss Policy for Gender Equality in the Workplace

Policy Analysis
Domestic Politics
Policy Implementation
Lucia M. Lanfranconi
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Lucia M. Lanfranconi
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
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Abstract

The Swiss act on gender equality is in force since 1996. In my PhD-thesis “Gender equality through economic benefit discourse?” (2014) I analyse the implementation process of this law into cantonal equality programs and equality measures on a company level. Thereby I analysed discursively documents (from 1996 till 2011) and interviewed important representatives of the gender equality policy field on different levels. The main result revealed a shift in discourses towards a so-called economic benefit discourse and on a practical level towards non-compulsive and employer-friendly equality programs. Although the literature shows similar economic-oriented discourses in the field of equality and family policies on a European level (e.g. Jenson 2009, Knijn and Smith 2009, Lombardo and Meier 2008), the specific implementation of the economic benefit discourse in non-compulsive and employer-friendly equality programs in Switzerland must be seen in context of the conservative-liberal welfare state type of Switzerland. This discourse may work as an incentive for companies for equality measures. However, simultaneously, it may also be a legitimation for companies not to act. Moreover, the discourse bears the risk of implementing measures that do not aim to change gender inequalities or of even reinforcing them. The visualization of these empirical evidences in the documentary "equality - a snapshot" (Lanfranconi and Lanfranconi 2016) will constitute an enriching basis for the discussion about mechanisms reproducing gender inequalities at the ECPG.