Managing equality and diversity at work

Published on August 30, 2022   11 min
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My name is Professor Christine Cross and I work at the Carey Business School at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Today's topic is managing equality and diversity at work.
In this topic, we deal with three related areas; diversity, inequality and fair treatment at work. Diversity is becoming a significant issue for organisations. Examples of trends in this area include an increasingly ageing population in developed countries and higher labour market participation by women. Organisations are also increasingly operating in global markets and often find that norms may exist in some countries of operation that may not be acceptable in their home country. This poses challenges for the human resource management function in these organisations regarding their responsibilities to promote equality and justice.
Let's begin by looking at what we mean by the term diversity. Diversity as a concept refers to the 'difference' between people. We can differentiate between collective diversity, mostly associated with social groups, such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and individually or deep-level diversity, such as education, personality, lifestyle and personal interests. This has also been termed invisible diversity because it encapsulates qualities or attributes which are more subtle and not immediately explicit. The management of diverse work forces is one of the biggest challenges facing organisations today. It's a challenge that is here to stay. There is a growing literature surrounding the concept of diversity in the organisational context. A key area of debate is whether employees should be treated equally, regardless of their differences, or whether organisations should recognise diversity diversity and adapt to take account of difference. These perspectives are summed up by the social justice approach to workplace equality and the diversity management perspective. Social justice, as the term suggests, involves viewing diversity within the broader context of morality and fairness. The key principle here is that organisations exist as part of a wider society or community, are embedded within it and as such, have a duty to contribute to the creation of a more equitable and inclusive society. The central tenant of the diversity management approach is the belief that difference should be recognised as positive. Difference should be nurtured and that this should be achieved through a cultural transformation of the organisation, rather than a reliance on legal regulation. Organisations should strive to achieve a culture whereby difference and diversity are viewed positively and actively promoted and supported since this is good for business.