Mike Noon and Emmanuel Ogbonna
The concept of equal opportunities is increasingly being replaced with the notion of the management of diversity. It has been a gradual drift, emanating from writers and organisations in the USA, travelling across to the UK and seeping into mainland Europe.In both theory and practice it offers a new challenge to both conceptualising and tackling the issues of equality, discrimination and injustice in employment. The chapters in this collection illuminate different aspects of these changing theoretical and practical problems. In particular they lay down two challenges. The first is to explore the nature of equality by analysing the framework, assumptions and policy implications that emerge from an approach of equal opportunity compared with the management of diversity. The second is to examine how groups become disadvantaged and unfairly discriminated against. This introduction is organised around these two analytical themes because this provides an opportunity to explore the common ideas and different tensions across the chapters as a whole. It further allows us to introduce the chapters through summarising their central ideas at the outset, rather than seeking to draw together the themes at the end; consequently, there is no concluding chapter. This, we argue, is a more dynamic way of integrating the chapters. In this respect, the introduction can be seen as the centre of a network of ideas, problems, dilemmas and themes that interlink the various chapters.
In themselves, the chapters represent a diversity: of approach, of style and of method. In terms of approach, the authors reveal their different orientations to the equal opportunities or management of diversity problem. Some tackle the issue head on, whilst others address it more obliquely as a consequence of their empirical investigations. They also focus on different subject groups; thus there are four chapters exploring gender-related issues and two each covering race/ethnicity, disability and age. Two further chapters, one empirical and the other theoretical take a general approach to theory and policies rather than focusing upon a specific disadvantaged group.