Is fair really lovely? Examining the role of organisations in the perpetuating and challenging of stigma


  • S. Chrispal University of Melbourne, Australia
  • R. Venkatraman University of Melbourne, Australia
  • R. Chugh University of Melbourne, Australia


In this paper we examine the role of organizations and organizational messaging in perpetuating, enacting and challenging stigma by examining colourism in India. In examining literature on stigma, we highlight a lack of understanding of the position of organizations in the creation and contesting of stigmas. Through an analysis of multiple forms of organizational messaging from beauty and cosmetic companies, as well as organizational campaigns against colourism in India – specifically messaging and countermessaging around ‘fairness’ products – we show how colourism is both enacted and challenged by highlighting intersectional identities (gender, race, etc.) that are endemic to both the complex nature of colourism and to India itself. Through this study, we primarily contribute to macro-level understanding of stigma. We also contribute to understanding the tangled inequalities that companies and organizations reify through their messaging, and the impact this has on social perspectives on stigma.
Keywords: Stigma, organisational messaging, colourism, intersectionality, India