Managing diversities and extending potential of every employee


Unlike diversity policies, equality policies have a long history in the UK, having been part of employment policy and standard business practise since the early 1980's following the introduction of the Sex Discrimination act (1975) and the Race Relation Act (1976). Traditional 'Equal Opportunities' issues cannot be separated from the broader issues included within diversity management such as individual and cultural differences. Traditionally, 'equal opportunities' reflected a moral concern for social justice, which recognised and involved implementing measures to eliminate social group-based discrimination and disadvantage. The 1980's 'equal opportunities' policies were however criticised for being a negative approach and failing to comply with law resulted penalties but organisations were not compelled to actually promote equality. (Kirton, Gill, 2010)

Statistics show that migrant workers were stronger in manufacturing, transport and communications part of the economy in the mid-1960s. The early recruitment pattern laid the foundations for subsequent employment segregation by race. Employer discrimination also interacted with the prevailing structural and economic forces to place ethnic minority groups in inferior and vulnerable labour market positions. The Diversity legislation was then established to give ethnic minorities the same respect as everyone else. Race discrimination was not unlawful until 1968; employers were openly discriminating before that.

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BBC describes diversity for them as a creative opportunity to engage the totality of the UK audience. That includes diverse communities of interest, as well as gender, age, ethnicity, religion and faith, social background, sexual orientation, political affiliation. ( Britain is one of the most diverse nations in the world. It is therefore important for companies to include diversity in their policies to remove blockages such as stigma and discrimination. Davison and Fielden (2003) describe managing diversity as seeking to completely extend the potential of each employee and turn the different sets of skills that each employee brings into a business advantage.

BBC is possibly the best-known broadcaster of TV and radio programs in the world, and their production is both exceptional in number and hugely extensive in content, it is inevitable that most of their programs are likely to involve issues of race, diversity, equal opportunity and discrimination - positive or otherwise. It is therefore important to recognise and embrace diversity. Through fostering the difference in their staff, BBC will improve their team imagination, modernism and problem-solving can be enhanced. Having a diverse workforce not only enables BBC to understand and meet customer expectations, but also help attract investors and clients, as well as reduce the costs related with discrimination.( Davidson& Fielden, 2003)

Equality is about making sure people are treated fairly within the legislation. Equality focuses on those areas enclosed by law that have been put in place to prevent people from being treated unfavourable on a range of factors like race, gender and disability. The Equal Opportunities Policy (also called the Equality and Diversity Policy) has been written in accordance with current best practice and has been updated in line with the Equality Act 2010, which provides a new cross - cutting legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society. (

Equal opportunities, like diversity, needs a company to make sure that all the decision-making about the employment and training of staff are objective, based on skills, relate to individual personal development criteria and support business goals. This can be achieved through review of workplace policies, practices and behaviour to check that these are helping all employees to give their best.

Managing diversity requires equality to be dealt with in a strategic, co-ordinated way. It welcomes the difference and seeks to avoid bias on the basis of issues which unjustly obstruct personal development. Managing diversity recognises that people have different talents to add to the company's aims and productivity and that action might be needed to give every person a chance to contribute to organisational goals and performance and that action might be needed to give everyone a chance to contribute and compete on equal terms. (

Despite the diversity and equality legislation in UK, Trends and patterns in the UK show that Black and ethnic minority still have lower economic activity rates than do white people and that they continue to experience higher rates of unemployment than the white population. (Kirton, Gill, 2010). These statistics show that the BME groups remain disadvantaged in the UK labour market. The economic restructuring and the growth of the service sector and part time jobs has favoured women of ethnic minorities resulting slightly lower rates of unemployment in women of ethnic minorities than men.

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According to a report by The Guardian, the glass ceiling prevented black and minority ethnic managers from advancing into top executives' jobs is still firmly in place despite a variety of high-profile government diversity initiatives over the last few years. This report and the statistics leave people with questions of whether companies use their diversity and equality policies as a legal compliance. Organisations use the 'language of diversity' to comply with legislation and to get the results they want rather than for ethical reasons.

Ethical minorities are often viewed as 'other' in workplaces or in a group and this may cause them to be afraid to speak out. In 2007, Jonathan Ross, the BBC's highest-paid presenter claimed that the vast majority of BBC's black and Asian staff work as cleaners or security guards saying 'How many black people have they got working on proper shows?, [Black people] are either standing on the door or carrying a cloth." Because BBC is a very big powerful company, people who are discriminated against may just give up because they think that they will be outvoted. (

The ICE regulations, which applies to companies with 50 or more employees requires employers to negotiate information and consultation processes if the company receives requests from more than 10% of undertaking's employees. If the company and the employees fail to come to an understanding, the statutory 'standard' provisions will then apply, requiring information to be provided to employee representatives like the trade union. Employers may resist bringing a trade union if they are worried that it will damage their reputation, however there are laws to protect employees from this.

The Compulsory recognition procedures introduced in 2000, necessitate employers to recognise a trade union, where either the majority of applicable employees are union members or following a ballot process. The ICE regulations have however failed to live up to their expectations. They have also received indifferent responses from some trade unions, worried that they may be regarded as a likely substitute to longstanding trade union involvement in workplaces. (

On their website BBC mention their diversity policy as being committed to promoting equal opportunities for all, irrespective of colour, race, religion or belief, ethnic or national origins, gender, marital/civil partnership status, sexuality, disability or age. They are committed to reflecting the diversity of the UK and to making its services accessible to all. This applies both to their output and to the people who work there. However the statement by Jonathan Ross is evidence that although they have a policy for diversity, they are not exactly following it. This also shows that Legislation such as equality and diversity act are not 100% effective and that companies can get around them. (

Whereas equal opportunities focus on creating equality of opportunity, regardless of any differences (Johnstone, 2002). Equal opportunities approach is a legislation that should indicate a state of balance yet legislation itself is about controlling, standardizing and ensuring everyone follows the same rules. The same can be said about managing diversity as it aims to control people through policies and procedures. Managing diversity assess people by placing them into groups, encouraging them to follow certain rules and use this to control them. From this, the term 'managing diversity' could be a more liberal or free thinking word for 'legislation', as they both have the same agenda which is to conform and set standards that everyone must follow .

Although companies often get around legislation, it is not a good thing for the company if this gets out in the public because it may destroy the reputation of the company. This causes diversity to become a management issue, because it affects the brand, reputation and even company profits.

After the Jonathan Ross comment BBC spent £750,000 of licence fee cash on coaching ethnic minority staff into top jobs despite axing 1800 jobs to save money. This was their way of trying to change people's attitudes on their company and to try and improve their diversity policy; however this bottom-up change may cause discrimination and resentment and tension within their staff. This case is also evidence that diversity and equality policies clash, and that they will never close the gap between them as people are never satisfied.

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BBC should probably use top to bottom diversity awareness by sending their managers to diversity awareness training and then have their managers pass that to the people at the bottom. Involving the staff as much as possible by doing surveys, listening to them and taking their opinions may encourage their staff to work with the managers in improving diversity rather than against them. It is however very difficult to change people's attitudes on things that can't be changed like race, people are always resistant to change. Moreover, being aware of diversity doesn't change people's attitudes.

CIPD defines employee engagement as 'a combination of dedication to the organisation and its values and a eagerness to help out colleagues. It goes beyond job satisfaction and is not simply motivation. Engagement is something the employee has to offer, it cannot be required as part of the employment contract. Employers want engaged employees because they deliver improved business performance and hence improve productivity'. Being committed and loyal will generate positive psychological contract between employer and employee.

Ulrich's HR roles model


Ulrich (1997) viewed SHRM as a process of linking HR practises to business strategy. (Bratton & Gold, 2007) In this case it means linking the diversity policies to the business strategy. Strategic partner is about appropriately aligning HRM with strategic management processes of the organisation of the organisation and appropriately coordinating diversity and equality policies to achieve the organisation's desired goals.

Change Champion is about supporting the change and shift of the business in the area of the human capital in the organisation.  One of BBC top executives Patrick Younge, called for TV bosses to be sacked if they fail to meet racial diversity targets. This came about after the 2009 annual report showed it set a figure of 12.5 per cent of staff to come from black and minority backgrounds, but managed 12.1 per cent. This shows that change champion also involves helping others to envision the future and setting clear expectations for performance, and developing the capacity to reorganise people and reallocate other sources. (Britton & Gold, 2007)

Administrative Expert changes over the period of time. In the beginning, it was just about making sure the maximum potential quality of company's productivity, but now the pressure is put on the opportunity to offer quality service at the lowest possible costs to the organisation.

Employee Champion plays a very important role of Human Resources. The employee supporter e.g. trade unions, knows what employees need and HRM should be aware of it. The employee advocate is able to take care about the interest of employees and to protect them during the process of the change in the organisation. (

If personnel are diverse, but the employer takes no gain of that extent of that knowledge, then it cannot benefit financially whatever benefits background diversity might offer. Some managers believe that simply having diversity and equal opportunities policies is sufficient evidence to attempt discrimination, (see Richards, 2001). However legislation cannot change people's attitudes, their beliefs and feelings therefore they break the law. This is most likely due to the fact that equality policies fit disadvantaged people into groups, as explored by Kirton and Green (2005) and this focus of 'difference' seem to disadvantage people. In addition to this statistics from ACAS (2008) reported that discrimination claims have increased over the year.

This proves that legislation failed to control people or organisations from discriminating and there is still the notion of stigma existing in the midst of our society regardless of the law. The law as suggested by Johnstone (2002) does not promote diversity and does not actually recognize the term 'diversity' but instead 'compliance' with the law is a business case for any organisation to adopt a diversity policy as it acts as standard guideline to avoid discrimination. The law, as explored by Kirton and Green (2005, pp.169), "does not have mystical powers" to change society.

Debatably, the social justice and business case influence for diversity are corresponding, because unless individuals are treated fairly at work they will feel less appreciated and hence become less motivated, leading them to underperform and be less productive. But diversity takes equality to the fore, and evidence indicates that organisations that are dedicated to their diversity policy show better overall financial performance. There are three broad strands supporting the case for going further than what is needed by legislation and introducing diversity policies: people issues, market competitiveness, and corporate reputation. Organisations which follow them are also more likely to find it easier to comply with increasingly complex legal obligations, not least because diversity will be embedded in their cultures.(

Human resource managers must be prepared to work towards changing the organisation in order to implement a culture of diversity and inclusion. There is a persuasive business case which should persuade businesses to look ahead of legal compliance with anti-discrimination laws to a value-added approach enabling competitive benefits to be gained from developing good practice. Therefore diversity strategies need to be planned to support business objectives to add real value to business performance. Just 'doing' diversity for superficial reasons is ill-advised and can result in undesirable outcomes such as raising expectations through false promises.

Unemployment is twofold as high amongst people from ethnic minorities, although there are somewhat more Chinese, Indian and Black African graduates than white graduates. Only 12 per cent of white men are in professional occupations, compared to 21 per cent of Chinese and Indian men. However, the social justice argument is based on the conviction that each person should have a right to equal right to employment and when in work should have equal opportunity to training and development, as well as being free of any discrimination and harassment. This can be described as the right to be treated fairly, and the law sets minimum standards

The equality act 2010 was meant to enable employers to favour under-represented groups during recruitment processes - provided the candidates are of equal suitability - to increase the diversity of their workforces; however, according to personnel today, an employer does not have to demonstrate that candidates have exactly the same qualifications as long as both are similarly suitable for the position. While this is helpful, in practice, employers are still going to be reluctant to use positive action. If they get their assessment of whether two candidates are equally suitable wrong, the recruitment or promotion is itself likely to be discriminatory, which could lead to claims. Employers may feel that using positive action introduces a degree of risk into the recruitment process. (

Diversity can have an effect on employee loyalty and motivation by creating a culture where every worker feels treasured, appreciated and able to work to their best potential. Employee's feeling towards their job has an effect on their work morale and satisfaction, but also on substantial organisational output such as customer satisfaction, sales, and profit. Satisfied employees are motivated and feel empowered to deliver a better product and service; they have a high work moral and willingness to work and they create a more positive working environment for colleagues and customers by showing understanding and respect. (

When implementing a diversity policy it has to go beyond the restrictions of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. High performing diversity managers make out that specialised skills are essential for creating a dynamic, diverse workforce. Assessment skills and diversity education are key fundamentals of culture change. However, the managers should be fully involved and supportive towards change. Successful communication is very crucial in implementing a diversity programme. Brownell's 2003 article identifies three skills which help to build up effective communication in different organisational environments. These skills include self-monitoring, empathy, and strategic decision-making. Self-monitoring refers to the communicator's awareness of how their behavior affects another person, empathy enables the receiver to go beyond the literal meaning of a message and strategic decision-making implies that the sources, channels and substance of the messages conveyed, are mindfully selected. (Adam (2007).

Organisations which lack diversity will not be able grasp and respond to the issues that businesses must deal with in a multi-cultural world. Diversity is essential to managerial leadership, strategic responsiveness and management effectiveness. Successful working relationships with suppliers are progressively more acknowledged as critical success factors for companies as they look to exploit the effectiveness and efficiency of all linkages in the value-chain. As business is done frequently through partnerships, joint ventures and strategic alliances, so an ability to relate to other cultures becomes a key organisational requirement. It is simply unthinkable that organisations seeking to become more globalised could do so without achieving high levels of diversity in their workforces.(

Finally for any diversity policy to be successful after its introduction it needs to go beyond legislation compliance (following rules) to ever attempt to treat people the same and avoid discrimination. The reasons companies aren't doing a better job stems from the way management determines and prioritises a firm's time and resources. Although top management views diversity integration as important, there are usually more tangible and compelling business priorities that win out in the short run. Diversity integration requires a long-term commitment and the payback is often not as tangible or predictable as, say, investing in new product development. On the other hand, to be all-encompassing and equal to all, organisations may need to react differently to individuals or groups. Therefore, an obligation to equal opportunities as well as recognition of diversity means that different can be equal.