Hand in date: 16th November 2012
Equality & Ethics
Assignment PART A
Discuss the definitions and theories of equality and diversity and select one of these theories as the basis for assessing equality practice in an organisation of your choosing.
‘The most intuitive meaning of equality is that everybody should be treated equally. This is referred to as formal equality’ (Vickers, 2011), which is achieved through the application of a symmetrical approach to the principle of equal treatment. (Kumra S. & Manfredi S, 2012) 1.
The equal opportunities approach aims to change behaviour through legislations so that discrimination is prevented. The approach is centered on the knowledge of individuals being discriminated against, for example in the selection process - a person with a disability could be criticized to have more time off sick, or a woman with children would not be prepared to work away from home due to family commitments. However, as these are assumptions and not supported by any evidence, in respect of any individual they are regarded as irrelevant..
There are liberal and radical approaches to equal opportunities; the liberal approach is seen to exist ‘when circumstances are arranged such that all individuals can compete equally, freely and fairly for social rewards’ (Kumra S. & Manfredi S 2012) 2. To ensure this takes place rules and procedures need to be established to make sure all individuals have an equal result. The successful and unsuccessful individuals are decided on the basis of fairness and justice (Jewson and Mason, 1986).
The radical approach aims to achieve equal results or fair rewards rather than equal opportunities through fair procedures. Kirton and Greene (2000) recognised that ‘the radical perspective accounts for the reality that discrimination in outcomes is more identifiable at group, rather than individual level.’ (Nelarine Cornelius (2002). Building Workplace Equality) There are three models of equality that are used to identify its concept in more depth and create clear understanding, these are: equality as dignity; equality and disadvantage; and equality and inclusion. (Vickers 2011)
The concept of diversity concentrates more on the individual rather than groups, and includes the improvement of opportunities for all individuals and not just those in majority groups. These can be along the dimensions of age, disability, gender, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion/beliefs, sex and finally, sexual orientation.
The CIPD (2005), suggests the central theme of diversity being ‘everyone is an individual – employees, customers, clients and extending diversity beyond what is legislated about; to looking at what’s positively valued’.
Some definitions recognize more importance on the organisation rationale when it comes to the way diversity is managed. For example Bartz et al (1990) defined diversity as,
‘understanding that there are differences among employees and that these differences, if properly managed, are an asset to work being done more efficiently and effectively’
This definition by Bartz el al (1990) can be related to a point made my Cox and Blake (1991), they said that ‘the more diverse the group, then the greater the potential for improvements in decision making within the organisation’.
Dass and Parker (1999) recognised that there are four key aims to diversity management, these are: Resistance, Discrimination and Fairness, Access and legitimacy and Learning and effectiveness. Each in turn provide an approach to how businesses react to diversity and how this is managed.
‘Key proponents of diversity management in the UK are Kandola and Fullerton 1994’ (Kumra S. & Manfredi S. 2012) 3. They said that cultural change is the best way for diversity