What is the distinction between equal opportunities and managing diversity? How is it possible to justify either in an organisation?
What are the distinctions between equal opportunities and managing diversity? Equal opportunity ensures that all personnel decisions that relate to recruitment, pay and promotion are only based on an individual’s capability to do their job well. Equal Opportunities: The term used to describe ‘policies and practices that tackle inequalities, aiming to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, and that service users do not experience discrimination’Equal opportunity is concerned with keeping within the law; all organisations are required by law not to discriminate an individual by reasons of their colour, marital status, disability, gender, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins. At the very least organisations should abide by the; Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Diversity however is a more wide-ranging approach to equal opportunity. Diversity focuses on valuing the varying of qualities that employees bring to their job and organisation. Managing diversity therefore is when a manager creates an environment where the employees feel valued for their individual talents and where the employee’s skills and competencies are fully utilised. Taking advantage of all employees’ full potential will benefit the organisation in many ways; such as it will encourage employees to work to the best of their ability and a wide range of experience, creativity and ideas will be brought to the organisation. Managing diversity can be defined as ‘a planned, systematic and comprehensive managerial process for creating an organisational environment in which all employees can contribute to the strategic and competitive advantage of the organisation, and where no one is excluded on the basis of factors unrelated to production.’ Equal opportunities within the workforce have many advantages; everyone is treated fairly and without prejudice, removing barriers which impact more harshly on individuals of reasons such as gender, disability, and race, focusing on an individuals abilities rather then who they are. Furthermore the concept of equal opportunities also has its disadvantages; positions such as nurses are mostly seen as a ‘women’s job’ therefore a patient might not be comfortable with having a male nurse and a job that requires heavy lifting is seen as a male position therefore a male is more likely to be recruited. If two candidates both have the qualifications needed for the job description, managers may feel that they should recruit the candidate who fits the equal opportunity policies rather then the candidate who they feel is more suitable to cope better with the dedication that the job requires. Diversity within the workforce has many advantages. These advantages include; a greater access to a wider range of individual strengths, experiences and perspectives, a greater understanding of the diverse groups of potential and existing customers represented within the workforce, better communication with these diverse groups of potential and existing customers and an improved legitimacy and organisational image across a wider audience. Diversity within the workforce also has disadvantages as well as advantages. Some of the disadvantages include; an increase in conflict among the workforce as differences in opinion makes it more difficult to agree on solutions, poorer internal communication because levels of knowledge and comprehension differ between employees, an increase in the management costs that arise from dealing with potential conflict and communication problems.
Valuing diversity means that organisations recognise that all individuals have complex identities made up of many strands. These can include, but are not limited to, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation physical and mental aptitudes, nationality,...
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