The Equal Opportunity Approach In Organisations
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Equal Opportunity (EO) approach: Equal opportunity means everybody of the organisation will get same rights or they are not discriminated by the employer or management. It helps to prevent discrimination and influence same behaviour through legislation and symbolised by the principles and fair viewpoint helping the rights of all constituents of civilization. The EO approach is a moderate practice (Jewson and Mason, 1986 cited Torrington & et al 2008) and it found more essential approach then the equality approach. The approach is mainly considerate that individuals are discriminated against it can be selection process for the unrelated criterion. And this criterion arisen from assumption based on the different issues comes from socially defined group such as women don't want to work away from the home and disable person will have more leave for the sick. The equal opportunity approach is balancing all kind of irrelevant assumption (Torrington et al. 2008).
However, the equal opportunities legislation gives an establishment of fair justice for the social minority group. As Liff (1999) cited on Torrington et al. 2008) points out, 'the use of systematic rules in employment matters which can be monitored for compliance is felt fairâ€¦'. It is illegal to discriminate or treating lees favourable to the employee in the workplace due to their age, race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, or the sexual orientation. So there are certain legislation works to reduce the discrimination in the workplace and provides a legal framework for implementing equal opportunities in society. The equal opportunities legislations are discusses as follows.
Race relations Act (1976) and race relations (amended) Act 2000: It is illegal to distinguish against anyone on grounds of race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origin under race relations Act 1976. It applies to jobs, training, housing, education and the provision of goods, facilities and services.
The amended Act also forces positive duties on many public authorities to encourage racial equality. (Communities and local government 2010)
Race regulations 2003: UK law included the race regulations on the basis of EU race directive. The race directive highlighted on equal action between people, regardless of their racial or ethnic origin, and establishes standards of safety and security for all EU member states. The regulations set up a new definition of indirect discrimination on basis of race or ethnic origin or national origin. There is also a new, legislative definition of harassment on basis of race, ethnic or national origin. (Communities and local government 2010)
Sex discrimination acts (1975, 1986): The SDA applies to women and men of any age, including children. It makes illegal sex discrimination in workplace, culture and the condition of goods, services and facilities. It is also illegal to discrimination of a person who has worked out their rights under the EPA or SDA.
The Gender equality duty: Under this law every public authority must shows that they are encourages equality for women and men and are abolition sexual discrimination and harassment. And this law comes to the power on 06 April 2007.
The employment equality (sexual orientation) regulations 2003: These acts makes unlawful to demonstrate employee on the basis of sexual orientation or harassment in workplace or training.
Equal pay Act 1970 and equal pay (amendment) Act 1983: If in the workplace the man and woman are providing alike work, the same rated job, equal value job then both have the right to have same contractual pay and benefit it the Act of EPA. However, employer need prove the reason for differences of pay and benefit if they provide different pay and benefit. (Dessler, 2003 and Torrington et al, 2008)
Disability discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) regulations 2003: The DDA law gives the rights to the disable people in terms of employment access to goods, facilities and services, education and public transport. The law ensures through making 'reasonable adjustments' for the disable people (that can helps to access to the service) to be made by the organisations. (Disability rights commission, 2010)
Employment equality (Age) regulation 2006: The regulations on age discrimination were set up on 01 October 2006. These is unlawful to distinguish against a person of a certain age group, unfairness due to age and make decisions according to age in the workplace and also covers direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. (Oldham, 2010)
Benefit of equal opportunity (EO) approach: There are significant benefits of the equal opportunity approach due to not to discriminated in the workplace. The equal opportunities approach is looking for controlling behaviour through legislation where people can be prohibited discrimination (Torrington et al., 2002).
However, EO approach is found as more radical approach as because it is giving more attentions on the equality of opportunity rather that the equality of outcomes (Torrington et al., 2002), and this approach sometimes referred to as the open-minded tradition (Jewson and Mason, 1986).
Moreover, EO legislation provides a foundation for the formalisation of procedures rather than unrelated assumptions for example job based criteria, and for this reason practical justice is provided in the workplace (Torrington et al., 2002).
Furthermore, EO approach is a positive action not positive discrimination and it is providing a 'level playing field' for all where people are allowed to compete equally to achieve a certain level position of the organisation (Torrington et al., 2002).
Limitation of the equal opportunities (EO) approach: Different people have different skill to contribute to organisational goals and performances (IPD, 1997) but equal opportunity approach works on minimize the difference by treating everybody as same. So people are not interested to show his/her performances due to they are not evaluated their performances.
However, it becomes helpless where a minority group become more successful in the organisation then they are discriminated by the particular social group with their old conventional attitude (Torrington et al., 2002).
Moreover, EO approach established the fair procedures or procedural justices which will lead to fair and positive out comes but that has not been well practice in the organisation (Torrington et al., 2002).
Furthermore, EO legislation does not give shelter to all minority groups. There is a common lack of support within the organisation to all minority groups and the objectives of the equality approach does not linked to the business objectives (Shapiro and Austin, 1996 cited on Torrington et al., 2002).
Managing Diversity approach: Diversity consider is not lacking in originality from distinctions in ethnicity and gender and it also based on differences in purpose, nationality, language, capability, religion, lifestyle or occupancy (Kossek and Lobel, 2000). However, Dessler (2003) describes managing diversity is the approach to increase diversity's potential advantages whereas reducing the obstacles such as discrimination and unfairness which can challenge the performance of a diverse workforce. Now a day employer are ready to the benefit from the increasing diverse workforce in the workplace and they are arising question about the utilization of human resource systems and well planned for the successful and standardised of workforce (Jackson, 1992b cited on Kossek and Lobel 2000)
Moreover, Barker (2003) describes diversity as a multiplicity or contradictory of work from similar characteristics or group of people or work with different cultural workforce. So, the term diversity represents in organisations as the use of workforce who are more perfectly identify the minor group of people and people from different background, age, race, gender and cultural perspective etc. At present the term managing diversity is more familiar in the international perspective.
The managing diversity approach is cover the following area where people are discriminated the minority group that are discusses follows:
Age: McEvoy and Cascio, 1989; Warr, 1990 cited on Kossek & Lobel, 2000 describes that there are no relation between performance and age. There is often thought that being too young is destructive to performance because they do not have the required knowledge and experience and on the other hand, too old is also unfavourable as ageing is assumed to be connected with becoming slow and absent-minded. The negative limit of age stereotypes influence organisation to increase a more diverse workforce with respect to age. (Heneman et al. 2000)
Race: Characteristically, race is identified as a side issue rather than a descriptive variable of academic importance (Kossek & Lobel 2000). Race represents different group of people or selection of group of people (Banton, 1998) where people discriminate different ethnic group of people (Konrad et al. 2006). In a workplace if a person is unfriendly or disgusting by another person or group of racial or ethnic origin against a person or group is called racial harassment.
Sex and gender: Researcher Uger (1979), Powell (1987) cited on Kossek & Lobel (2000) describes 'sex as actual differences between men and women and gender as beliefs about how men and women differ.' There is a relation between sex and personnel decisions with the acknowledgment of success and failure of the organisation (Guzzo, 1978; Deaux, 1976 cited on Kossek & Lobel, 2000).
Sexual orientation: People in an organisation works with sexual orientation such as homosexual, lesbian or bisexual. O'Brien and Vest (1998) cited on Kossek & Lobel (2000) made an evaluation of philosophy about employing homosexuals, lesbians or bisexuals. So harassment of people due to the sexual orientation is natural for sexual relation.
Disability: Disable people are not able to equal work due to their ability. In a study of Tringo, (1970); Yuker, (1987) cited on Kossek & Lobel (2000) shows that there are many negative approach in workplace in the direction of people with disability.
Benefit of Managing diversity approach: Different cultural people working in an organisation helps to develop the ground of the organisation and give the competitive advantages (Esty, 1995). The benefits of the managing diversity are discusses below:
Talent hiring: Managing diversity is a continuous process for hiring talents and potential diverse population to an organisation or society where can establish a wholesome and comprehensive environment, which is 'safe for differences', allows workforce to 'reject rejection', enjoys diversity, and increases the full possibilities where everyone can benefited (Ph. D, 2006). In a survey of CIPD (2007) shows that the benefits of business of diversity management are mainly indicated the effective people management, such as recruiting and retaining talent.
Problem-solving and decision making: Diverse group of people works in a team is better at problem solving and sharing a higher quality decision (Wanous & Youtz, 1986) where organisation can get significant benefits (Thompson and Gooler, 2000). Guzzo (1986) cited on Kossek & Lobel (2000) suggests that creating work teams that make best use of diverse member does come out to improve problem solving and decision making.
Competitive advantages from diverse workforce: An organisation can get the competitive advantages from the diverse workforce by the contribution of different group of people. All employee of the organisation can helps to organisational development by ignoring race, culture, gender or sexual orientation (PH. D, 2006).
Creativity and innovation: Team with diverse workforce is more creative and innovative then consistent teams. Diverse team having great range of knowledge, and experiences which can result different good ideas, perspective to improve creative thinking where organisation can get greater benefits. Adams (1979) in his book Conceptual Blockbusting: A Guide to Better Ideas describes that group of people can share various diverse view points and intellectual ideas to control different problems. They can provide a helpful emotional atmosphere and the resources which required developing preliminary thoughts into convincing detail in a reasonable time.' (Thompson and Gooler cited on Kossek & Lobel, 2000).
Limitation of the Managing Diversity approach: Individuals from various cultures have different rules, preference or expectation for living so it is some time difficult in an organisation because what is appropriate and acceptable in one culture may not be appropriate and acceptable in another and resolving conflict is more difficult. It will create more difficult in communications (Thompson and Gooler cited on Kossek & Lobel, 2000).
However, there is more chance to happen conflict in diverse workforce due to have broader range of knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences. For example different work team have different way to solve problems so it can increase conflict for different technique within different teams (Thompson and Gooler cited on Kossek & Lobel, 2000).
Moreover, managing diversity approach is totally ignored the differing interpretation due to various cultural people which is focus on the importance of groups or individuals. It is important to understand each other but there is no indication of it (Torrington et al., 2002).
Furthermore, it is support standard based on the group. So the identified characteristics of groups use as a source of advantage of the organisation. This identification works to identify the different group. But due to these differences the specific group may feel uncomfortable in the basis of equality (Liff, 1993).
Justify the choice of managing diversity approach for HR manager: Managing diversity is more appropriate approach of HR manager in an organisation. To justify the choice of approach of HR manager first need to understand differences between EO approach and MD approach. Ross and Schneider (1992) cited on Torrington et al. (2002) describes the difference that diversity approaches are internally motivated not forced by externally, it is focused on individuals rather than groups and total culture of the organisation, and the responsibility is distributed to all in the organisation not based on the personnel functions. So the managing diversity approach is the superior approach to equal opportunity approach (Kandola et al. 1996) though some range of both approach are nearer to each other and some are very different.
However, at present managing diversity approach is more and more randomly used by manager in locally and globally. It is concerned with more than the idea of equal opportunities approach, results and legal performance. This approach is a combination of people management topics with business topics and the increases of workplace ethnicity which identify the basic requirement of the workforce and maintain the comparisons and difference between contributors to the organisation (Kramar, 1998). Cox (1993) cited on Kossek & Lobel (2000) describes managing diversity as 'planning and implementing organisational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximised while the potential disadvantages are minimized'. So, managing diversity is all about planning and implementation of systems which is more suitable for HR manager to manage a business from different cultural people.
In addition to that managing diversity is driven by a new set of assumptions that uncomfortably lie on top of the EO approach. The main fundamental assumption of managing diversity is that 'all individuals are unique', which is contradicts with EO assumptions of all as equality and neutrality. Furthermore, it is more justifiable at the individual level as because every body get the chance to prove his/her potentiality and hold the promise of a workplace where everybody knows his/ her importance within the organisation. Therefore organisation can get the potential benefit form managing diversity (Yakura cited on Kossek & Lobel, 2000).
So, in an organisation HR policy supports to attract, select and retain different kinds of people (Schneider, 1985; 1987). And HR manager's responsibility is to get the potential advantages from the workforce especially from the diverse workforce. To run the business it is not necessary to give attention equality legislation but it is very important to manage his workforce. Whereas it is helps to increase productivity and to meet the goals of an organisation.
Conclusion: Finally it can say that though both approaches contrasting with each other both are necessary in the society with different aspects. One is cover by the legislations with legal aspects and other is cover by management with diverse people. Equal opportunities work not to discriminate group of people in the workplace rather than evaluating individual performance. It is identify all individual with different age, race, cultural are as same but they are not influencing people to perform well due to the limitation. On the other hand in managing diversity approach support that everyone in an organisation can play vital role to make difference. And this identified the individuals and influence people to show performance in the organisation. The lack of diversity in business activities is missing massive possible for business growth. So, organisation should not only focus on increasing diversity in workplace but also need to learn how to manager it effectively to get maximum benefits. Now a day due to globalisation issues managing diversity approach becoming good human resource management practice for the organisation.
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