Radical politics, intersectionality and leadership for diversity in organizations

Alison Pullen*, Carl Rhodes, Celina McEwen, Helena Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore leadership for diversity informed by intersectionality and radical politics. Surfacing the political character of intersectionality, the authors suggest that a leadership for diversity imbued with a commitment to political action is essential for the progress towards equality. 

Design/methodology/approach: Drawing lessons from the grassroots, political organizing of the black and Indigenous activist groups Combahee River Collective and Idle No More, the authors explore how these groups relied on feminist alliances to address social justice issues. Learning from their focus on intersectionality, the authors consider the role of politically engaged leadership in advancing diversity and equality in organizations.

Findings: The paper finds that leadership for diversity can be developed by shifting towards a more radical and transversal politics that challenges social and political structures that enable intersectionality or interlocking oppressions. This challenge relies on critical alliances negotiated across multiple intellectual, social and political positions and enacted through flexible solidarity to foster a collective ethical responsibility and social change. These forms of alliance-based praxis are important for advancing leadership for diversity.

Originality/value: This paper contributes to studies of leadership and critical diversity studies by articulating an alliance-based praxis for leadership underpinned by intersectionality, radical democracy and transversal politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2553-2566
Number of pages14
JournalManagement Decision
Issue number11
Early online date23 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


  • Diversity
  • Leadership
  • Politics


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