"Companies Can Do Better than the Law" : Securing Rights for Minorities as an Insider Activist in French Corporations

in Legal Intermediation: A Processual Approach to Law and Economic Activity

Buchter, Lisa (19..-....)

Sarat, Austin. Directeur de publication

Emerald 2019 - Ref. 10.1108/S1059-433720190000081002 - 11-44 p.

Previous theories discuss how corporate managers can stir anti-discrimination laws away from their initial social goal by managerializing the law. Yet, other actors – notably insider activists – can contribute to move corporate regulations beyond merely symbolic compliance. I demonstrate this influence of activists with three cases studies: (1) LGBT activists for same-sex parental leave; (2) disability rights activists for implementing a quota; and (3) Muslim activists to secure accommodations ... in French workplaces. Through these cases, I show how activists can move corporate laws beyond compliance, pressure firms to go from merely symbolic to substantive compliance, and analyze mechanisms that explain their unequal success. Bringing together insights from the legal endogeneity theory and social movements theory, I analyze these activist legal intermediaries as actors faced with unequal structure of opportunities, and examine what factors hinder or favor an activist-driven legal endogeneity. I demonstrate the impact of more prescriptive regulations, the institutional power of union representatives (and their alignment with activists’ claims), reputational stakes for companies, and the resources of activists themselves (legal expertise, ability to reframe laws, and informal power within their organizations). Last, I show how activists leverage organizational and legal tools (collective agreement, diversity policies) to induce recoupling between formal commitments and informal practices.

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