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The Diversity Approach to Achieving Equality

Review Of The Article: The Diversity Approach To Achieving Equality: Potentials And Pitfalls


The article was co-authored by Lizzie Barmes and Sue Ashtiany. The article was referenced using footnotes, it was done such that the footnotes contains all the books used, examples sighted using litigation, materials from both print and broadcast media, observations the authors made from their experiences when carrying out the case studies during the research work, and even their appreciation to organizations and individuals who agreed to participate in the research work.

The main thesis of the article tries to looks at diversity in the city with initiatives in investment banking in the UK in particular studied, it was important to the research owing that investment banks are especially permeable to management innovation in the US owing to their typically global structure. This was done by writing up into case studies and submitting to the interviewees for approval, the organizations used include JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers, and UBS Warburg.

The work foundation said for an organization to move from an equal opportunities to a diversity conscious it is realized that where equality policies open doors, policies designed to value diversity offer a more strategic way of moving the business forward, backed up by a strong business and ethical case. Valuing diversity goes further than equality. Equal opportunities policies are legislation led, remedial and based on the assumption that minority groups will assimilate into the dominant culture. By contrast, valuing diversity is visionary in aiming to create a positive work environment in which everyone benefits and can work to their full potential in pursuit of organisational goals, aims and objectives. This may involve changes in core values, mindsets and behaviours supported by policies and strategies

The analysis was carried out by studying it under different groups, from the case studies through to dissecting diversity thinking. The case studies looks at how to embrace diversity in these organisations. They used five points under which the case study was carried out.

In motivating changes the organizations adopted the aim of constructing a fully inclusive work place acknowledging that a change of culture was required to bring this about and committed themselves to the action. This change should be such that the primary motivation is the business case for diversity.

In mapping out the problem, it is realised because of the uniqueness of every individual no system for promoting or measuring diversity is meaningful. Individuals should be protected from glaring discrimination of any kind; specific diversity strategies should be created to tackle the problems of non diversity, judged to be most acute.

However in working for diversity functions should be within human resources with its role being to support diversity councils or champions drawn from amongst senior management and business personnel or through establishing a diversity function outside human resources, staffed by employees, often senior, taken from the bank's businesses. This unit would then itself support the diversity councils and calling on human resources where needed.

In generating change, data gathering was particularly important with each structure providing for its own system of accountability. The case studies also looked at specific issues; these include strategies to improve work-life balance, and indications of varied and imaginative approaches to training and education.

The diversity path to equality looks at diversity and equality. Using the Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, and Race Relation Act 1976 characterizing the model of UK anti-discrimination law prioritizing equal treatment with the requirement that there be no differentiation to the detriment of a member of a protected group that is on racial grounds or o the ground of their sex.

The diversity perspective deviates from the traditional legislative model by operating far less individualistically than the law, it takes a systematic approach thus organisational measures to achieve change are central. It also emphasizes on concrete steps to enhance inclusiveness with the particular concern to accommodate difference. In effect it permits differential treatment on grounds of race and sex or in relation to other barriers to participation so long as the objective is to promote diversity. The limited scope for positive action in the traditional model of UK anti discrimination law does not only show the weakness in the legal frame work but also creates the risk that measures designed to accommodate or promote diversity will amount to unlawful direct race or sex discrimination.

In effecting this there is the need to integrate the legal and diversity perspectives. While this might take the form of legal instruments being used to strengthen an organisations diversity strategy, there is also the need to fit arrangements for reducing an organisations vulnerability to anti discrimination claims into diversity initiatives.

In doing so organisational arrangements to promote diversity might be used to manage the constant flow of changes to anti-discrimination law, this would serve a number of purposes which include counteracting a merely reactive stance to legal change.

Any one engaged in developing diversity initiatives should be fully conversant with the law on this topic because only with this knowledge are they equipped to exploit the potential for lawful initiatives and to avoid wasting time on ideas that are at risk of illegality.

However, to the future some positive actions and duties to promote equality are seen with observation that there is the move towards imposition of more positive duties to promote equality. It may also be anticipated that the duty on public authorities will at some point be extended to gender equality and to equality between the disabled and the non-disabled. There are also signs that space is opening up at EU level which member states may exploit to permit organization to take targeted activity geared to promoting equality.

Review And Evaluation

The text is comprehensively written with the research being in details and quite analytical. It was written in a constructive manner treating the subject (diversity perspective) in devised phasing manner.

The phases developed the article and made the arguments, instances and points aid in making clear statements. For instance, in the case studies based on some devised sub headings the issue of diversity perspective in the investment banks was looked at. In motivating change the organizations surveyed had adopted the aim of constructing a fully inclusive work place, had acknowledged that a change of culture was required to bring this about and had committed themselves to the action required to complete the planned shift. A strong message was conveyed that the primary motivation was the business case diversity. This statement clearly shows the organization that participated in the research believes for diversity perspective to be encouraged since theirs is a business oriented organization, there is the need for bringing in a business case for diversity and incorporating into an already existing business structure of the organization, it also acknowledges the need for constructing a fully inclusive work place and the need for a change of culture. This means that there is the need for embracing every individual in the organization in adopting the diversity perspective.

Another example of the ease of understanding the article can be seen in the case for working for diversity. Diverse personnel were involved in diversity initiatives. First, aside from top management instigating action on diversity, they had day-to-day involvement in specific initiatives. This might take the form of communication and exhortation, but extended to participation in organisational structures for taking forward the diversity agenda. Secondly, employees from the business lines were actively engaged in diversity strategising. One typical set of explanations for employing line professionals on diversity was that such personnel have a deep understanding of a firm's work, which puts them in a good position to recognise obstacles and impediments to diversity and to identify workable means of achieving change. At the same time, the tendency is for such employees to have more credibility within businesses than those from outside. This shows that wide knowledge is required for diversity initiatives in order to obtain wide views and most certainly more concrete solutions and approach. Employees from the business line were engaged, this is to aid incorporate the diversity strategies with the business orientation.

The main arguments of the article are discussed in the first main section of the article. Here, as stated earlier an empirical study of diversity management in investment banks in the UK was carried out with the aim of exploring the legal issues that flow from adoption by employers of diversity ideas, the arguments exposes certain tensions between diversity model and the legal frame and makes practical suggestions at reconciling them, and set out diversity perspective features for achieving equality at work.

Under the diversity path to equality it argues that the Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, and Race Relations Act 1976, which are thought to embody the traditional model of UK anti discrimination law priotising on equal treatment with the legal obligation contained within the notion of direct discrimination is to treat similarly situated people the same. However, a weakness is that no particular standard of conduct is imposed. Having said that, it is agreed that the concept of indirect discrimination has the consequences that treating similarly situated people the same will not always be lawful. It is argued that diversity perspective operates far less individualistically than the law, it takes a systematic approach and emphasises on concrete steps to enhance contrast with the traditional legal model's resistance to any differentiation on a prohibited ground, this points that the diversity perspective countenances differential treatment on grounds of race and sex or other barriers to participation so long as the objective is to promote diversity. It shows that diversity perspective envisages positive action with measures devised redress the difficulties faced by a particular group or individuals and always provided the steps taken do not give any one an unfair advantage. These are logical arguments and supported by evidence from the traditional UK anti discrimination law.

Emphasis on equal treatment means that for most parts of the UK anti discrimination law leaves a very little scope for action by employers which is directed at increasing the representation or attainment of disadvantaged groups, as such the limited scope for positive action in the traditional model of the law creates the risk that measured design to promote or accommodate diversity will amount to unlawful direct race or sexual discrimination. It is realised that it would strike many as counter-intuitive that the law should chill organisational initiatives in pursuit of equality, especially given that only measures that enable workers to compete on an even playing field are envisaged. Be that as it may, the important practical consequence is that anyone adopting the diversity perspective needs to have systems in place for ensuring that their initiatives do not stray outside the limited confines of lawful positive action.

The conclusion is valid. It is clear and precise. It summarizes the main ideas of the article, at the same time giving some results on the arguments. The authors also succeeded in making the point and expressing their opinion. Its only weak point I feel is the inability to make suggestions on its future enhancement unlike as it is the case in the main article which looks at the future; positive actions and duties to promote equality.


I personally agree with the authors. This is because the article as a whole is a product of an extensive research work, carried out with the full participation of the investment banks which are looked into. More so, in making the case reliable references such as existing laws and acts, sighting other authorities view who worked on the same subject, for example a passage from the Hepple Report (A New Framework, Report of the independent review of the enforcement of UK Anti-Discrimination Legislation) suggesting for a different kind of regulation in changing the work of an organization and using litigations in sighting some instances, e.g. the case of Lommers V Minister Van Landbouw Natuurbeheer en Visseri.

On the general opinion of the work I regard it as satisfactory this is because in the abstract it was stated that the aim is for the article to explore the implications for anti-discrimination law of management theorising about diversity. This was done at the same time exposing certain tensions between the diversity model and the legal framework and make practical suggestions for reconciling the two approaches.