Equality, Diversity and Disadvantage in Employment

By Mike Noon; Emmanuel Ogbonna | Go to book overview

4 Diversity, Equality,
Morality

John Kaler


INTRODUCTION

In common with many other trends in management thinking, the diversity approach to employment issues has the status of a product — in the form of a technique — that is sold to managers through consultancy work and instructional books. Consequently, there is the problem of arriving at a clear understanding of what is meant by this talk of 'diversity' given that we are dealing here with a concept that has been packaged and repackaged in a search for potential buyers, and so not only lacks any definitive formulation but offers formulations that are none too mindful of very real obscurities and difficulties.

The difficulty is arriving at a clear understanding of the concept of diversity given that it is formulated in a way which glosses over or even ignores many potential criticisms and questions. In particular, there is the difficulty of determining the precise relationship to the somewhat older concept of equal opportunity. Here the problem is determining whether diversity has to be considered an entirely different approach from equal opportunity, pursuing different ends by different means, or whether the two overlap to the extent that diversity can be a way of pursuing the same ends as equal opportunity by different but possibly more effective means — a possibility which seems to be at least part of the reason for interest in diversity. On this particular issue I shall conclude that although the two approaches cannot be entirely separated, diversity has little to offer fulfilment of those specifically moral ends which, I argue, are definitive of equal opportunity.

As indicated, this chapter is concerned with conceptual analysis rather than the description of practice and, more particularly, with exploring the specifically moral implication of concepts. This focus does not, however, necessarily mean adopting any particular moral stance in relation to the ethical matters raised. All it need mean, and all it will involve here, is examining how well certain concepts work with a given ethical position. Accordingly, I will merely outline what I take to be the mainstream

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