Managing Diversity/Equal Opportunities
Managing diversity is “the concept of recognizing the wide variety of qualities possessed by people within an organization. It emphasizes the individuality of people, and the importance of valuing each person for his or her unique combination of skills, competences, attributes, knowledge, personality traits, etc.”(Heery & Noon, 2001)
Equal opportunities “reflects a moral concern for social justice, which recognizes and involves implementing measures to eliminate social group-baser discrimination and disadvantage” (Kirton & Greene, 2005)
The common point for those two approaches is that everybody has to be treated in the same way without marginalize differences (colour, race, gender, sex, disability).But if those two expressions seem really close to each other, the approach is different. In fact, the first one tries to integrate and value the difference in the world of work. So it is internally initiated. Anyone has to feel comfortable at work no matter his gender, race, sex, etc. People have to use their differences in order to bring something to their work. The second one seems to defend theopposite. Delete the differences and put everybody on the same pedestal by applying “clear rules to control behaviours (externally initiated)” (Anglia Ruskin University, 2009). And the goal is to avoid the risk to hire someone because of his gender, race, sex, etc. Those two approaches can be combined in the workplace.
An equal opportunities approach will be focused on giving the same chance forall to climb the social scale through their work. People will be judged trough their competences and their efficiencies in the way they are working. In this case, everyone will be in the same level. They will not be any considerations about where they come from and in what they believe. The danger with this approach is that it involves a kind of uniformity between people and they can feel likerobots because they will not be treated according their characteristics or beliefs but by their effectiveness to do a certain work. With an equal opportunity approach, “difference equals disadvantage” (Kirton & Greene, 2005).
The diversity approach will focus on value the differences. In a sense, it is the continuity of the equal opportunity approach. With this one, it is obvious that everybody isdifferent and each person has to value those differences in order to “maximise their potential and their contribution to the organisation” (Anglia Ruskin University, 2009). The main difficulty with this approach is to create osmosis between all members from a same team. If they come from different backgrounds and defend different values it can create some problems of understanding within the team.There are six different groups concerned by the diversity management: race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender and religion or belief. They all are exposed to glass ceiling problem which are the “barriers keeping women from advancing higher in the hierarchy” (Harvey & Allard, 2009), but it can also be adapted to all the 6 catogories mentioned earlier. That is why the equal opportunitiesand diversity management exist, they are made to struggle against this kind of problem.
That is why the Human Resource Management is a central actor in the workplace. It has to involve every worker in the company’s policy by valuing their work but also valuing them as human beings. And this point is the most difficult because nowadays, there is a real melting pot (different beliefs, colours,...