Analyze The Diversity Legal Framework In UK Commerce Essay

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Human resource management (HRM) has been one of the most popular management concepts of the 1990s; evidenced now by the proliferation of texts bearing the title and the number of university and management training courses on the subject. However, equality and diversity issues are often absent from the debate, where the theory, policy and practice of HRM tend to assume the 'generic' universal employee (Dickens, 1998 Benschop, 2001). This gap is significant because, first, the human resource function is most likely to hold the main responsibility for the people planning within an organization and thus for policies and procedures concerning equality and diversity issues. There are interesting debates about

the extent to which the human resource function can be the main driver of progressive change regarding equality issues

(Cockburn, 1991; Cattaneo et al., 1994; Gooch and Ledwith, 1996; Gooch ) and Blackburn, 2002

Second, many writers agree that there is considerable 'fit' between the development of HRM and diversity approaches to equality. Indeed, Miller (1996: 206) states that 'Managing diversity can arguably be classed as the HRM approach to equality initiatives in the workplace'. In the Personnel Journal's end of year summary of the '100 toughest challenges facing human resource practitioners' for 1995, diversity appears high on the list(Flynn, 1995

: 63). Certainly, as even a cursory glance through issues of the journal People Management will indicate, nearly 10 years on, diversity issues have become a central part of human resource management. Indeed the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development proclaims 'Managing diversity is central to good people management'

(CIPD, 2004). Third, moves to diversity approaches to equality match moves in thought

about people management. Webb (1997: 164) points to the 'fit' between the two, seeing the move towards diversity approaches as capturing'the wider political shift from collective models of industrial relations state regulation and associated bureaucratic control procedures to deregulation, free market competition and notions of human resource management based on maximising the contribution of the individual'(There is a large debate dealing with the differences between HRM and personnel management and whether or not HRM can be defined as different to personnel management . Thus the scene is set for a discussion of what

HRM offers to the equality project within organizations. Presenting the most widely known Normative models of HRM. An extensive discussion of HRM will not be presented here, as it is out of the remit of the book's subject matter; however, a brief overview is necessary. This is in order to highlight the similarities between HRM and diversity approaches, and to be able critically to appraise HRM as a force for challenging inequalities. Specific policy areas of HRM will also be analysed in more detail, drawing on Guest's (1987) model, in order to frame an analysis around some specific dimensions of the HRM approach. Potential advantages and benefits for equality and diversity will be discussed, as well as a critique of the HRM approach, pointing to weaknesses of theory and practice in advancing the position of disadvantaged groups of workers

The Legal Framework of Equality and Diversity

It is against the law to treat a person less favourably than you would treat

another on the grounds of:

Sex (gender)


Race, colour, ethnic or national origin



Because they are married (including civil partnerships)

Because they have complained of discrimination

Offending background (subject to the conditions of the Rehabilitation of

Offenders Act 1976)

It is against the law to apply an unjustifiable condition or requirement, which

puts people of any group at a disadvantage, compared to others.

Equal Pay Act 1970

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1976

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Race Relations Act 1976 plus Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

Human Rights Act 1998

Part-time Workers Directive 1999

Gender Reassignment Regulations 1999

Employment Equality Sexual Orientations Regulations 2003

Employment Equality Religion and Beliefs Regulations 2003

Carers Equal Opportunities Act 2004

Gender Recognition Act 2004

Civil Partnerships Act 2005

Disability Discrimination Act 2005

Employment Equality Age Regulations 2006

Equality Act 2006 including the establishment of the Commission for

Equality and Human Rights

The aim of the legislation is to ensure people are not treated in a discriminatory or oppressive way. County Durham LINk fully accepts responsibilities within these laws and is also bound within the spirit of the Acts


Positive Action

The law allows positive action to be taken to help or encourage those in under-represented

groups to apply to be members of County Durham uk This means Removing or redressing discriminatory and oppressive practices Actively: seeking to provide genuine equality of opportunity and enabling people from all groups to stand a fair chance of becoming a member of the

Discrimination and Harassment

• Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably, on any of the grounds outlined in the policy statement above, than others are or would be treated in the same or similar circumstances. This may be as a result of conscious decision, policy, or bias in a system or procedure

• Indirect discrimination occurs where conditions or requirements, although applied equally, favour one group more than any other group, and cannot be justified

• Harassment is behaviour with racial or sexual connotations, which is deliberate, unreciprocated and unwelcome. Harassment extends to interaction between people, which is acceptable to them, but offensive to a third party. Harassment is behaviour of a nature, which is calculated, or likely, to give offence or is directed at that person because of any of the grounds outlined in the policy statement. It includes, but is not limited to, physical or verbal threat or abuse, mockery or innuendo, assault unacceptable touching, displays of offensive material in the workplace or suggestions that any of the grounds listed in the policy statement are a condition of retention of jobs or promotion. In summary, verbal or physical actions related to or motivated by any of the above grounds, which cause discrimination, humiliation, offence or distress, interfere with an individual's work or create an unpleasant or hostile working environment

• Victimisation occurs when a person is given less favourable treatment than others in the same circumstances because it is suspected or known that s/he has brought proceedings under the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act, or the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 or given evidence of information relating to such proceedings, or alleged that discrimination has occurred and/or any other legislation that is appropriate.


Culture is the collective understanding of what is and the norms for what ought to be.

Culture can be defined as the values, attitudes, and behaviour that unite and integrate people in the same community in a meaningful way. Attitudes depend on values, which influence the way people behave Individuals adopt values from parents or other people that are important to them. Depending on the circumstances, however, values and attitudes may change over time and cause people to behave differently. For example, not everyone

from a culture that values women taking care of the home may think negatively about women earning income outside the house. Factors that can lead to change in values or attitudes include education, exposure to other cultures, individual characteristics and stress. Different nations or organisations create communities with different cultures. People from different cultures have different values, which sometimes create conflict. Despite these differences

every person in a nation or organisation must respect the equality of all human beings and the universal human rights.

Cultural Diversity

Many relief organisations are characterised by diverse groups of relief workers. Each individual or group of local staff, expatriate staff, or volunteers may come with different cultural perceptions and expectations Cultural differences do not cause problems if all the relief workers carry out their duty, and dress. and speak as they are expected to. However, when some relief workers (recruited from another nation or organisation do not speak the common language, do not respect, or are not respected by their colle agues in the operation because of differences in cultural values or attitudes, teamwork may not be possible

. Relief workers (both expatriates and local) may be classified as follows

Those who understand and appreciate cultural diversity.

Those who do not appreciate cultural diversity because of inexperience.

Many relief workers are recruited with little experience in working in a multi-cultural environment. Individuals who do not understand the common language or culture may feel overwhelmed and isolated Particularly if they are unsure about what other team members expect of them. This may result from poor orientation of new staff and inadequate team building.

Those who do not appreciate cultural diversity despite extensive experience.

Although some relief workers may have worked with other multi-cultural teams, they may not

understand all the communication and relationship problems that can arise from simple cultural

ignorance or lack of sensitivity. Some experienced staff may develop a deep-rooted artificial cultural insensitivity as an "emotional shield" against high stress. This can result from the culture of an organisation or nation.

Cross-Cultural Issues

The potential for cultural clashes may be greater where there is a high cultural diversity within a relief operation. A simple management requirement can produce significant cultural consequences as a resultof cultural differences in sensitive areas. Typical examples where a clash of cultures is possible include

· some cultures focus on individual achievement, while others emphasise on teamwork and consensus

· some organisations are very hierarchical and authoritarian, while others tend to be more democratic and flexible

· in some cultures, decision-making involves a complex process of consultation at all levels, while in others, it is quick, being carried out directly by the individual concerned

· attitudes and respect towards authorities, tradition, and deference to elders may differ

· cultures differ in the importance they give to loyalty and unity to the organisation and family

· attitudes towards women in the workplace can vary significantly

· cultures differ in their attitude to change, risk-taking and uncertainty

· there are differences in the relative importance given to providing job satisfaction, living wages

or salaries

· other differences include: the importance given to social relationships in the office, formality in dress, greetings and relationships, punctuality and use of time, office privacy, acceptance of gifts or bribes, etc.

Promoting Cross-Cultural Sensitivity in the Team

Team leaders need to understand how much

culture could influence the way a team works.

Education and training on cross-cultural issues is necessary when developing working relations among relief workers from different cultures. If team members appreciate the value of cultural diversity within a relief operation, they will adapt their individual attitudes and perform satisfactorily. The table below shows some advice that can be given to an individual working in a multi-cultural environment

Building Respect for Local Culture

Many relief operations recruit interpreters to act as mediators where professional or para- professional service providers do not speak the language of the beneficiaries. However, these interpreters have limited training in recognising psychologic al or unreported problems of clients. Without direct communication, the service provider may fail to gather the right information to assist the client effectively. As a result, the beneficiaries lose trust for the relief services, and seek assistance elsewhere. In addition, service providers who are unaware of their clients' unmet needs may become frustrated with clients who do not comply to their advice. To overcome language and cultural barriers of communication with the beneficiaries, relief organisations should recruit para-professionals who speak two languages (the official language and the language of the beneficiaries); and, if possible, share the ethnic origins of the displaced population. These para-professionals may be identified among the beneficiary and the host populations. Training and development of "bilingual" and "bicultural" para-professional staff will be a visible symbol of integration and respect for the local cultural identity and tradition. This will build the local community's support and co-operation for the relief operation. It will also ensure those providing services directly to beneficiaries are able to do the following:

Communicate with all the beneficiaries, including the children and elderly, who may only speak the language of their homeland.

Educate professional staff (expatriate or host country) on the beneficiaries' cultural values and beliefs to prevent violations.

Serve as bridges to traditional helpers (healers, religious leaders, community elders) within the displaced community.

Understand the cultural basis for problems faced by the beneficiaries in cross-cultural adaptation and recognise non-verbal signs.

The best evidence of an organisation valuing the local culture is giving incentives for expatriate and host country staff to learn the basics of the beneficiaries' language and culture. This is because using the basics of a common language with the appropriate "eye contact" are the essence of effective inter-cultural communication

REFERENCES and Recommendations

1. Team-Building and Personnel Management in Federation Delegations (Richard Grove-Hills) - IFRC

1996 (pp 123 suggested text and cases for each participant ).

2. Handbook for Delegates. IFRC 1997 (pp 1017 comprehensive reference book on all disaster areas)

3. Leading and Managing People in the Federation Secretariat - IFRC 1998.

4. The Management Book: A Guide to Management for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Eastern

and Southern Africa. League of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 1985, by Richard Field.

5. Occupational health of Field Personnel in Complex Emergencies: Report of a Pilot Study - WHO 1998

6. Heads of Delegations Workshop (Dr. Alexei Gartinski) - IFRC 1997

7. Coping with Natural Disasters - WHO 1998

8. Earthquakes and Peoples Health - WHO 1998

9. Code of Best Practice - People in Aid/ODI 1997

10. Handbook for Emergencies, second edition - UNHCR 2000.

11. Basic Training Course for Delegates - IFRC 1998

12. Organizational Structure (Dr. D. Gouws) - Alchemy Management 1998

13. Video - Who Wants To Be a Delegate? - IFRC 1994

14. Video - The Eight Second Ride - IFRC 1993

15. Room for Improvement: The Management & Support of Relief and Development Workers - ODI 1995

16. Humanitarian Principles Module - Databank (Dr. J. Ebersole) CETI 1997

17. Training Manual for Training of Human Resources for Health) WHO 1993

18. Local Health Systems