Diversity Essay

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Part I Strategic Approaches to Diversity Chapter 1 Developing Strategic Approaches to Diversity Policy Gill Kirton Queen Mary, University of London, UK INTRODUCTION 3 THE EXTERNAL CONTEXTS OF DIVERSITY POLICY DEVELOPMENT 4 THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONTEXTS 4 THE LEGAL CONTEXT 5 THE INTERNAL CONTEXT OF DIVERSITY POLICY DEVELOPMENT—ORGANIZATION CULTURE 7 DEVELOPING DIVERSITY POLICY 8 APPROACHES TO DIVERSITY 8 TYPES OF DIVERSITY POLICY 10 PROACTIVE DIVERSITY POLICY 11 LINKING POLICY TO PRACTICE 12 CONCLUSIONS 15 REFERENCES 16 SUMMARY This chapter considers how organizations might develop diversity policy in the context of the social, economic and legal environments of the UK. It is suggested that the dominant ‘equal opportunities’ paradigm has not yet been supplanted by a ‘diversity’ paradigm and the chapter therefore explores possible types of diversity policy, which are broadly characterized as reactive and proactive. The chapter discusses the role of two key policy levers—training and development and monitoring and auditing—to illustrate the challenges of translating policy into practice. In conclusion, the chapter argues that abandoning altogether traditional ‘equal opportunity’ policy would be a retrograde step, while asserting that if approached with caution, the diversity discourse does have potential to push forward the equality project. INTRODUCTION Diversity is infinite: everyone is different from everyone else. If we take diversity to mean the multiplicity of characteristics that combine to make us individuals, we risk producing a definition so broad as to become meaningless (Heneman et al., 1996). On the one hand if we are to search for a definition that can be operationalized in the form of organizational policy, then it is necessary to narrow the definition in order to focus policy efforts. On the other hand, a broad conceptualization

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