Human Resource Management: Equal Opportunities Essay

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Pages: 10

Equal Opportunities
The issue of equal opportunities is one which has developed to such an extent over the years that it has now firmly arrived at the forefront of discussion. The nature of equal opportunities is so broad that it affects almost every individual, from every background. Two vast areas link equal opportunities to companies: human resource management and employment law. This report intends, initially, to discuss the topic from both a human resource and a legal perspective: determining how good practice in equal opportunities through positive action is now fundamental to the running of a successful business. In addition, equality problems at Atherton Publishers will be considered with a view to advising the management of
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(Rutherford, Vol.14, 1999)

Nevertheless, the ideal solution is to strike a balance. Jackson concludes: "a good equal opportunities strategy should reinforce positive behaviours and at the same time reduce (or in behavioural terms "extinguish") undesirable behaviours". (Jackson, Vol.9, 1994) In other words, use the "carrot" and the "stick".

How can organisations do this? The hypothesis of "positive action" is now favoured by many companies. The rationale behind the idea is to enable employees across the board to achieve their full potential, whilst also tackling the root of the discrimination problem.

Positive Action
A good understanding of the aims of positive action is fundamental for its success in an organisation as its broad definition is open to misinterpretation. It remains a common misconception that positive action aims to offer greater advantages to ‘disadvantaged' people. (Lawrence, Vol.29, 2000) For example, the temptation may be for a company to offer a job to a disabled person over a better-qualified able-bodied person simply because they have a disability. The definition is, however, sufficiently narrow as to exclude positive discrimination.

Greatly simplifying the situation, consider two mice and a mousetrap holding a piece of cheese. The mice are the same, but one only has three legs. Positive action, although outwith the realms of