Anthony Rafferty, Professor of Employment Studies at Alliance Manchester Business School, has been appointed the new Director of the Work and Equalities Institute (WEI).
He takes over the role from Professor Jill Rubery who becomes Executive Director of the WEI with responsibility for the Institute’s international networks.
Professor Rafferty, who was previously Deputy Director of WEI, said he was honoured to be taking up the role at a time of such huge change in the world of work. “Because of the pandemic it’s probably fair to say that there has never been a time in recent history where issues around work and equality have been so front and centre.
“COVID-19 has not just impacted our working lives today, but has also made us think about the long-term future of work. It has made us rethink the world of world, rethink the nature of cities, rethink the way we collaborate and interact with each other and, crucially, also rethink sustainability in terms of how we get to work and how often we travel.”
Professor Rafferty said the pandemic had also reshaped many debates such as the wellbeing and global talent management agendas, and highlighted a lot of previous inequalities in the labour market, precisely the kinds of research themes that are so close to the Institute’s heart.
“If you take a theme such as gender inequalities then research into this subject is even more essential in the wake of COVID-19. Big economic or social crises often have a major impact on gender relations, as was the case with the 2008 financial crisis and the decade of austerity that followed. These are precisely the kinds of research questions we now need to be asking.”
Meanwhile he added that the Institute would continue to focus on its existing four central themes – business transformations and the future of work, fair treatment at work, inequalities and the life course, and employment regulation and representation.
“We will continue to build on our great ongoing work around these themes, but at the same time we need to be open to developing new agendas too, while also continuing to engage at the policy level nationally and internationally around equality and diversity issues.
“In particular I think there is right now a really strong case for the proper evaluation of equality policies as I don’t think there is enough concrete evaluation of what works and what doesn’t work. How exactly do we strengthen policy interventions at the national, local and organisational level? What are the HR management policies that you need? There is a need for a stronger evidence base and we need micro level detail about what kinds of interventions work.”
Professor Rafferty said he was particularly excited about working with colleagues at The Productivity Institute which is based at Alliance Manchester Business School. The WEI is already closely involved in the ‘human capital’ stream at the Productivity Institute which was launched last year.
“Working with The Productivity Institute is great for us because issues of equality are issues of productivity. The quality of the match between a worker and a job is central to productivity and inequality has a big role to play in leading to mismatches.
“Discrimination and poor social mobility can become embedded in society and people are too often not given the right opportunities and that leads to the underuse of skills or unrealised potential. And people who underutilise their skills often have poor wellbeing. These are precisely the kinds of structural issues that we look forward to researching too.”
Professor Rafferty’s own research chiefly concerns issues surrounding labour market inequalities and understanding the implications for organisational and management practice of issues of sustainable and inclusive growth.
Professor Jill Rubery said “It has been a privilege to be the first Director of the Work and Equalities Institute. I have had wonderful support from colleagues during my four years in post and I am very pleased to be able to hand the directorship over to Anthony whose vision and commitment to research in work and equalities will ensure the continuing success of the institute".