The aim of this paper is to analyze the similarities and the differences between two popular approaches in today’s human resource management: equal opportunities approach and managing diversity approach. While the managing diversity approach focuses more on business efficiency, the equal opportunities approach concentrates on equal treatment of employees in a bureaucratic sense. The paper begins with definitions of both approaches; continues with explaining differences and similarities of both approaches comparatively. The relative superiority of the managing diversity approach for business organisations with respect to equal opportunities approach is gone through followed by a conclusive part.
There have been considerable positive developments against discrimination of employees recently through legislation, while initiatives for equality and affirmative action programs were developed as well (Zafree, 2010). These steps have served to take unemployment levels and workplace discrimination of the disadvantaged groups that are discriminated due to their races, ages, religions, gender, down. The equal opportunities approach, concentrates on equality and justice at workplaces (Zafree, 2010). The equal opportunities approach can be said to be a liberal school of thought usually supported by legally binding regulations, which influences actions and behaviours at workplace through legislation with formalised procedures and policies. Through policies applied through equal opportunities approach, employees and potential employees are able to exist and compete on equal terms with respect to race, gender, disability, religion etc. In other words, equal opportunities approach assumes that discrimination stems from unequal treatment of individuals. It can therefore be said that, the equal opportunities approach analyses employee and employer relationships directly from viewpoint of public, state and employees; while the focus is less for employers' situation.
The main idea behind equal opportunities approach is promoting rights of all members in the society (Torrington, Hall and Taylor, 2008, p. 576) regardless of their social, cultural, religious or ethnical backgrounds. As a result, this approach is less about the outcomes or results of working in a socially and culturally diverse environment, but on the opportunities that can prepare or lead to such an environment. From this point of view, equal opportunities approach is not directly interested in affecting employee satisfaction or product efficiency of an organisation. However, it concentrates on the equalising opportunities pertaining to positing within an organisation. There are several stereotypical characteristics in organizations that can lead to discrimination (Bekyan, 2010). With equal opportunities strategy, human resource managers are driven with an emphasis on positive action, or creating a more balanced mix of staff, permitted under all strands of the discrimination such as 'staff training', 'flexibility of dress', 'providing assistance with child care' and so forth. According to Equality Act (2010), age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation are the factors that are to be protected during employment process; which are directly aimed at through equal opportunities approach.
On the other hand, managing diversity approach is a concept that was first applied in the United States in 1980s as a reply to the demographic modifications within the labour force, global competition, while it was also a reaction to the introduction of equality legislation and practices (Strachan, French & Burgess, 2009, p. 1). The managing diversity approach accepts that the workforce is composed of a diverse population, including diversity factors such as age, background, sex, disability, personality and work style (Kandola and Fullerton, 1998, p. 8). Controlling and helping co-existence...
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