Dr Cecile Guillaume

Reader in Work, Employment and Organisation Studies and SBS Director of internationalisation


Affiliations and memberships

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
Academic member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development


Research interests

Research projects


Cécile Guillaume (2022)Organizing women Bristol University Press

This book explores the representation of women's interests in the world of work across four trade unions in France and the UK. Drawing on case studies, it unveils the social, organisational and political conditions that contribute to the reproduction of gender inequalities or, on the contrary, allow the promotion of equality.

Cecile Guillaume, Gill Kirton, Carole Elliott (2024)The fate of being a 'distressed asset': insights into women returners' experiences in the UK, In: Sociology Sage

Building on studies looking into how professionals encounter stigma and negotiate their work lives, this article fills a gap in extant sociological literature on gender and professional work by providing original qualitative data on professional women supported re-entry-to-work experiences. Examining the development of returner programmes in the UK, we investigate the supportive factors in the mitigation of stigma threats associated with the returner status, including organisational support and individual stigma-management strategies. We examine how these social processes contribute to alleviating stigmatisation only partially, while maintaining persistent wage and career discrimination for women returners. To explain this mixed result, we explore the way in which women returners inhabit neoliberal feminist subjectivities.

Cécile Guillaume, Vincent-Arnaud Chappe (2021)Mobilizing anti-discrimination law: the litigation strategies of UK and French trade unions compared, In: Journal of Law and Society Wiley

Based on cross-national comparative research conducted in France and the UK, this article explores to what extent and under what conditions trade unions situated in different legal systems have turned to the courts to challenge discrimination at work. It investigates the interplay between a broad range of structural factors that offer specific opportunities, and the way trade unionists interpret contexts to promote legal mobilisation in addition to or in place of other repertoires of action. In so doing, it contributes to the understanding of employment discrimination law enforcement and the role of micro-level actors in enabling litigation strategies.

G. Kirton, Cecile Guillaume (2022)Towards ‘Racialising’ the Union Agenda on the Front Lines of Healthcare Professions, In: Work, employment and society Sage

A persistent problem in trade unions is the discrepancy/tension that exists between their progressive national equality-seeking agenda and the translation of equality principles into workplace activism and their application to members' everyday working lives. Building on the notion of 'feminising' the union agenda, this article explores professional unions' efforts towards 'racialising' the agenda, which is a neglected equality focus in extant literature. The study is located within nursing and midwifery in NHS workplaces where the existence of racism has long been recognised by all employment relations actors. It investigates how the national union anti-racism project is implemented by workplace union representatives. While it reveals recognition of the existence of workplace racism among union representatives, a degree of denial and discomfort also exists. This, combined with the absence of the empowering union strategies that might be expected, hinders the delivery of a racially inclusive union agenda on the front lines of healthcare.

This book explores the representation of women and their interests in the world of work across four trade unions in France and the UK. Drawing on case studies of the careers of 100 activists and a longitudinal study of the trade unions' struggle for equal pay in the UK, it unveils the social, organizational, and political conditions that contribute to the reproduction of gender inequalities or, on the contrary, allow the promotion of equality. Guillaume’s nuanced evaluation is a call to redefine the role of trade unions in the delivering of gender equality, contributing to broader debates on the effectiveness of equality policies and the enforcement of equality legislation.

Cécile Guillaume, Sophie Pochic (2021)Understanding the underrepresentation of women in union leadership roles: the contribution of a career methodology, In: Handbook of Research Methods on Gender and Managementpp. 249-264 Edward Elgar Publishing

This chapter argues that a methodology based on the interactionist concept of career offers an innovative research design for understanding the (un)making of women's underrepresentation in union leadership positions. Drawing on a comparative research project that investigated four unions in France and the UK, it presents and illustrates this methodology. It investigates how different institutional, organizational and individual processes shape union careers and contribute to the reproduction of inequality regimes within trade unions, while unveiling the conditions, including individual agency and equality policies, that have enabled progress to be made in some unions.

Cecile Guillaume, G. Kirton (2023)Representation and voice in two feminised health professions, In: Handbook on Gender and Public Sector Employmentpp. 265-278 Edward Elgar Publishing

Drawing on qualitative research in the main UK unions for nurses/midwives, this article investigates how union reps are responding on the ground to the realities and challenges confronting nursing and midwifery staff working in the English National Health Service (NHS). It confirms the difficulties encountered by public sector trade unions in maintaining and developing a resilient workplace unionism despite membership growth and organising efforts in highly feminised professions facing work pressures, increasing workload and staff shortages.

Cecile Guillaume (2018)When trade unions turn to litigation: 'getting all the ducks in a row', In: Industrial relations journal49(3)pp. 227-241 Wiley

Driven by their members' demands and the need to adopt more combative legal strategies in order to oppose the deterioration of working and employment conditions, British trade unions have developed in-house legal expertise and supported many individual and multiple claims. This article investigates the variation in unions' legal practices and examines their organisational responses to law and the role of compliance professionals in the regulation of employment litigation. It provides a nuanced account of the influence of legal rationality on the framing of union strategies and shows that, under certain conditions, trade unions are able to build multi-pronged tactics by using litigation as a complement to other forms of action.

Jon Warren, Cecile Guillaume (2016)Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain50(5)pp. 615-617 Wiley
Cecile Guillaume, Gill Kirton (2017)NAPO, a Typical Case of the Challenges Faced by British Public Sector Trade Unions, In: Sociologie du travail (Paris)59(1) Revues Org

Since the end of the 1980s, the British public sector has experienced huge changes, a mix of privatisation, restructuring and marketization. The current Conservative government's approach to industrial relations is clearly an extension of the anti-union policies inherited from the Thatcher era, with a new law passed in 2016 that further restricts the right to strike. However, by comparison with the private sector, public sector employees still benefit from numerous collective agreements. This article explores the strategy conducted by the small union representing probation officers to oppose the restructuring programme enacted by the government in 2013 and to maintain some forms of collective bargaining at the national and workplace levels.

Cecile Guillaume, Gill Kirton (2020)Challenges and pitfalls for workplace unionism in a restructured public service, In: Economic and industrial democracy41(1)pp. 212-228 Sage

In the context of restructuring that has swept across Europe in recent years, this article discusses the conditions of workplace unionism resilience in a small, predominantly female UK public service occupation - probation. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, the article offers comprehensive insights into members' expectations towards their union branches and provides evidence of even more accountable and responsive relationships between local reps and their members following restructuring. Factors that contributed to the resilience of the union included the influence of a shared occupational identity, the legacy of large and confident branches and the (gender) democratic tradition of the union. However, the research also highlights some limitations for the permanence of effective workplace unionism in a context of socio-demographic changes as well as organizational difficulties linked to the restructuring and outsourcing process.

Gill Kirton, Cecile Guillaume (2017)Work, employment and engagement conditions in a female-dominated public service occupation after restructuring/outsourcing, In: Industrial relations journal48(5-6)pp. 482-499 Wiley

Most research on the phenomenon of public service restructuring/outsourcing focuses on lower skilled work in peripheral activities and typically provides an overview of effects on work, employment and employment relations. Through an in-depth case study of probation, the intention of this article is to explore professional worker experiences of the restructuring/outsourcing of a core public service activity where the workforce is female dominated. The article highlights three dimensions of job quality that all suffered deteriorationwork, employment and engagement. The case of probation adds to evidence demonstrating that employees experience adverse effects even though transfer regulations and union agreements supposedly protect workers. Probation also stands as an exemplar of impoverishment processes in a female-dominated occupation which reinforces the view that public services can no longer be relied upon to provide high-quality jobs for highly qualified women.

Cecile Guillaume, Sophie Pochic, Vincent-Arnaud Chappe (2018)The promises and pitfalls of collective bargaining for ending the victimization of trade union activists: Lessons from France, In: Economic and industrial democracy39(3)pp. 536-557 SAGE Publications

The broadening of the anti-discrimination legislation and the growing use of litigation have put pressure on organizations to respond to the law by elaborating formal rules and, in the case of France, negotiating collective agreements on union rights. This article addresses the issue of union victimization by investigating the various organizational responses to anti-discrimination law. By focusing on in-depth case studies over a long period of time, it offers new insights into the processes whereby law is internalized and how they interact with litigation over time, and also highlights the active, contested and changing role of HR professionals and trade unionists in the shaping of organizational responses.

Cecile Guillaume (2018)Women's Participation in a Radical Trade Union Movement That Claims to be Feminist, In: British journal of industrial relations56(3)pp. 556-578 Wiley

This article investigates the under-researched topic of women's representation in radical unions, drawing on an in-depth case study of the French Solidaires, Unitaires et Democratiques (SUD) movement. In addition to an overview of the institutional and organizational dynamics of unions' inequality regimes', it offers a contextually grounded analysis of the barriers and enablers of women's participation in SUD unions. More specifically, this research reflects on the complex interrelationships between class and gender in class-based militant trade unions that claim to be feminist but fail to support working-class female workers' participation.

Vincent-Arnaud Chappe, Jean-Michel Denis, Cecile Guillaume, Sophie Pochic (2019)La fin des discriminations syndicales ? éditions du croquant

La 4ème de couv. indique : "Les lois de 2008 sur la réforme de la représentativité syndicale et de 2015 sur le dialogue social ont instauré de nouvelles obligations de négociation en entreprise portant sur la "conciliation" de l'activité syndicale et professionnelle. Comment expliquer cette soudaine attention des pouvoirs publics à la "discrimination syndicale" ? Assiste-t-on à une rupture historique dans les relations professionnelles à la française ? Fondée sur six monographies de grandes entreprises aux pratiques sociales contrastées, cet ouvrage montre comment la négociation d'accords de droit syndical et de "gestion des parcours syndicaux" est aussi une réponse à la croissance des contentieux, menés notamment par la CGT depuis les années 1990, qui ont contribué à une prise de conscience de leurs droits par les syndicalistes. Si ces accords d'entreprise protègent désormais mieux les mandatés les plus investis dans le jeu du dialogue social, qui signent des accords, ils ne modifient pas radicalement les pratiques managériales de terrain qui continuent à stigmatiser les syndicalistes de proximité, surtout quand ils s'opposent aux restructurations ou dénoncent la dégradation des conditions de travail par des pratiques protestataires."

Gill Kirton, Cecile Guillaume (2019)When welfare professionals encounter restructuring and privatization: The inside story of the probation service of England and Wales, In: Work, employment & society33(6)pp. 929-947 Sage

This article utilizes a multi-method case study of the probation service of England and Wales to explore the perspectives of practitioners and their union on how restructuring/privatization affected the probation profession. Professionals perceived restructuring/privatization as ideologically and politically motivated, rather than evidence-based in relation to service goals. Against this context, the article outlines the probation union’s organized resistance, but ultimately its inability to halt the reform. The findings highlight practitioners’ concept of ‘the death of probation’ created by philosophical opposition to privatization, but also by the splitting of their profession and the resultant assault on professionalism. The study underlines the unique aspects of restructuring/privatization in the specific service domain, in particular those linked to working with a socially stigmatized client group, but it also has resonance for other public service professions facing the actuality or prospect of restructuring/privatization.

Cecile Guillaume (2022)Legal Expertise: A Critical Resource for Trade Unionists? Insights into the Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail, In: Industrial Law Journal51(1)pp. 38-61 Oxford University Press

Based on in-depth qualitative research conducted in one of the major French trade unions (the CFDT), this article explores to what extent and under what conditions trade unions adopt different legal practices to further their members' interests. In particular, it investigates how 'legal framing' has taken an increasingly pervasive place in trade union work, in increasingly decentralised industrial relations contexts, such as France. This article therefore argues that the use of the law has become a multifaceted and embedded repertoire of action for the CFDT in its attempt to consolidate its institutional power through various strategies, including collective redress and the use of legal expertise in collective bargaining and representation work.

Additional publications