Managing Equality and Diversity at Work
Equal opportunities refer to the fair treatment of people without bias in the workplace. On the other hand, diversity management is a function that is aimed at creating an all inclusive work environment in such a manner that it enhances work satisfaction of all people working in an organization (Zanoni, Janssens, Benschop & Nkomo, 2010). The two terms are often used together and interchangeably although there are several differences between them.
Equal opportunities concentrate on the issues related to employee discrimination (Wilson, 2005). On this point, they refer to all processes that are meant to ensure that an organization does not discriminate against an individual on the basis of specific personal factors such as race and gender. A key practice that is common in modern day human resource management that aims at ensuring that organizations provide equal opportunities is through the use of appropriate recruitment and selection programs (Edgar & Geare, 2005). Diversity management focuses on creating a conductive environment that provides a good platform on which employees can exploit their talents and potential and perform optimally. Besides, diversity management aims at ensuring that the employees’ contributions to an organization are optimized (Marchington, Wilkinson & Sargeant, 2002).
Another key difference between equal opportunity and diversity management is that equal opportunity is normally regarded as an issue affecting specific groups within the labor market (Metcalfe & Afanassieva, 2005) while the scope of diversity management is broader; and is slowly turning to international with increased globalization (Beechler & Woodward, 2009). Concerning equal opportunities, they are regarded more as ethical issues which put emphasis on the problems connected with women, disabled people and ethnic minorities. However, diversity management is focused on organizational cultural change with the aim of enabling a company achieve its corporate goals (Kalev, Dobbin & Kelly, 2006). On this point, it is worth highlighting that diversity management has a purpose to create a good working environment characterized by inclusivity that enhances individual employee performance (Bassett‐Jones, 2005).
Provision of equal opportunities is a responsibility of human resource management or organizational leadership (Noon, 2007). This is due to the fact that for an organization to turn to be an equal opportunity employer, it must have in place appropriate human resource management policies and strategies that enhance equality. Equal opportunity has more emphasis on positive action while diversity management does not. As for the diversity management, it is a responsibility of every stakeholder in an organization. This gives a rise to the need of developing an organizational culture that has diversity management as a core value (Sagiv & Schwartz, 2007). Additionally, managing diversity provides an organization with corporate visions while equal opportunities do not (Wilson, 2005).