Managing Diversity
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Human Resource Management in a Business Context

Human Resource Management in a Business Context, 3rd edition
by Alan Price
 Human Resource Management in a Business Context provides an international focus on the theory and practice of people management. A thorough and comprehensive overview of all the key aspects of HRM, including articles from HRM Guide and other sources, key concepts, review questions and case studies for discussion and analysis.
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Managing Diversity


This section considers how opportunities are constrained to the detriment of individuals and organizations. We examine how businesses and their managers can maximise human capital.

 The environment and opportunity

Anthony Jay is reputed to have said that 'success is when preparation meets opportunity'. Preparation depends on personal effort but opportunity is linked to social factors such as economic conditions, education and other people. Effectively, society determines who is given opportunity and who is not through the process of discrimination. Overt prejudice is comparatively easy to observe but the true nature of unfairness lies in the way opportunity has been institutionalized within society. The status quo is constructed to benefit certain types of individual from particular backgrounds or those who are able to adapt most easily to its requirements. Typically, this has denied opportunity to women and minority groups.

  See  Canadian Employment Acts   - HRDC link page for information on employment acts in Canada

 The South African Employment Equity Act (1998) is amongst the most ambitious equal opportunities legislation in the world. See the Department of Labour site for detailed information.

 The  Employment Standards Administration   - provides summaries of legislation in the USA.

 Education and meritocracy

Education plays a key role in causing and, potentially, curing institutionalized discrimination in advanced countries. This section in Human Resource Management in a Business Context looks at the French cadre system in comparison with Germany and the UK.

 The meritocratic ideal

People in developed - and many developing - countries no longer 'know their place' in society. Those who have a vested interest in preserving plum jobs for a select elite are facing overwhelming opposition from a generation whose career aspirations and expectation of equitable treatment by employers would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. However, there is some way to go before a universal meritocracy prevails.

 The Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment Limited focuses on Australian workplaces

 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the USA

 Diversity and the organization

The management of diversity goes beyond equal opportunity. Instead of merely allowing a greater range of people the opportunity to 'fit in' or to be an honorary 'large, white male', the concept of diversity embodies the belief that people should be valued for their difference and variety. Diversity is perceived to enrich an organization's human capital. Whereas equal opportunity focuses on various disadvantaged groups, the management of diversity is about individuals. It entails a minimization of cloning in selection and promotion procedures and a model of resourcing aimed at finding flexible employees.

 Communicating workplace diversity a top priority

 Strategies for diversity

Many organizations have adopted equal opportunities policies - statements of commitment to fair human resource management. However, equal opportunities policies are notoriously ineffective, often no more than fine words decorating office walls, designed to appease politically vociferous activists and soothe consciences. They disturb vested interests too rarely. The obstacles to creating a diversified workforce are embedded in organizational culture - particularly the subculture at the top.

 Workplace diversity is more rhetoric than reality

  Female and minority job-searchers look for diversity in the workplace - In a US study, one-third of survey respondents have eliminated companies that lacked gender and ethnic diversity from employment consideration.


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