Approaches to Diversity (continued)
Critics of the managing diversity philosophy have suggested that the theory is overly introspective. Thomas (1990) points out that to manage diversity an organisation needs firstly to be diverse; in this respect established organisations would always be at a disadvantage. However, there is increasing pragmatism in the area of human resources that suggests managing diversity and equal opportunity theory are able to complement each other.
This is supported by LaFasto (1993) who suggests that managing diversity is not at odds with equal opportunities and the legislation / policies that support it. LaFasto describes a three-stage process where the organisation moves from 'Complying' to 'Managing' to 'Valuing'. When an organisation is 'complying' it is;
Reacting to the pressure not the problem.... Compliance and obligation. Keep the law out of our business.... Avoid legal consequences.
Whilst in the 'managing' phase;
Diversity is important as a competitive business practice and we are here to run a business. We need to attract the right people. Job stability / continuity is important to success. Turn over costs money.
In the 'valuing' stage the organisation believes;
Individual self-esteem is important to performance. People who feel comfortable in their work environment are more likely to feel confident in their ability to contribute. Business, social and moral values are one and the some. Job is a part of life not vice versa...Productive people = a high performing organisation.
LaFasto describes the changes from 'complying' to 'managing' to 'valuing' and this concept influenced the development of the cline below.
"managing diversity covers a range of approaches and emphases, some closer to equal opportunities some very different."
... Ford (1996) supports LaFasto suggesting that many organisations are supportive of the need to use both equal opportunities legislation and policies to underpin the development of diversity.
It is interesting to note that, despite the plethora of rhetoric, it is very unusual to meet an organisation that does actively value diversity. To value diversity is to be able to value the differences between individuals and to encapsulate the positive attributes that are encompassed in those differences to the benefit of the organisation. It is directly opposed to judging people against the norms of an organisation; it necessitates a shift from the current paradigm of individuals recognising and conforming to the organisation to where the organisation conforms to the individual differences of all the people involved.
To manage or value diversity in an organisation, whether it is believed to be underpinned by Equal Opportunities or not, requires a framework for implementation. Kandola and Fullerton (1998) identified eleven-implementation models. They were able to distill the frameworks into a model for actioning diversity in an organisation and this will form the framework for the case study.