Equality and Diversity in the Workplace


Sanglin-Grant, S. (2003) explains that equality is the development of policies and practices that eliminate dissimilarity in any organization, institution or workplace. In this case, all persons within the organization are accorded equal opportunities and are also accorded equal treatment. Diversity on the other hand is all about embracing the value of individuals in an organization while at the same time making the most of their potential. Diversity encompasses all varieties of individuals from ethnic minorities, racial minorities, the elderly, women, persons with disabilities and persons with unconventional sexual orientations. When organizations embrace diversity, then they heighten their levels of creativity, innovation and overall success in their marketplace. Most workplaces have not accorded certain individuals equal opportunities on the basis of their background or physical attributes. This has resulted in various types of diversity such as cultural diversity, age diversity, gender diversity and so on. (Miller, Hagen and Johnson, 2002) However, for purposes of this research, focus will be on persons with disabilities.

Before examining the imperative issues in managing diversity within the workplace for persons with disabilities, it is crucial to understand the meaning of the term disability. The Disability Act of 2005 (UK) defines disability as a form of restriction in the process of conducting social, business or cultural duties due to physical, mental, health, intellectual and health impairment. Statistics conducted in the European Union found that the unemployment rate for a person with a disability is two hundred and fifty percent higher than a person without a disability. This impedes their ability to become self sufficient, socialize and develop a high self esteem. (Ross & Schneider, 1992) Consequently, persons with disability end up being isolated or end up falling in the poverty bracket. Such alarming outcomes should solicit action from employers and other stakeholders within the workplace. Employers need to ask themselves; what policies and procedures can they set up to encourage equality? What are the benefits of providing equal opportunities for person with disabilities?, what negative consequences can result from failure to comply (laws and regulations)? Lastly, what case studies can companies use to further this concept? (Holly, 1998)


Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

Outcomes of according people with disabilities equal opportunities

Integrating people with disabilities within businesses should be a top priority for all companies in the country-whether large or small- due to the following reasons. First of all, it gives a respective company access to a different type of labor force. There is a growing misconception that persons with disabilities cannot perform within an organization’s parameters. However, this is a grave misconception because many organizations have not yet tapped this category of individuals yet most of them are highly skilled. Kandola and Fullerton (1998) assert that the current American workforce has changed drastically. Gone are the days when there was an excess provision for labor. These days, organizations are competing to keep some of the best employees. Additionally, there is a need to fill in gaps in the labor force by tapping all potential resources available. (Elmuti, 1993)

Secondly, organizations that embrace diversity with respect to persons with disabilities can get a chance to keep qualified personnel who had no disability when they had started working for the organization but became disabled when they became part of the organization. Statistics indicate that eighty five percent of all cases of disability occur in adult life. Therefore, companies that have embraced diversity management are better prepared for such eventualities and can still retain their newly disabled employees. (Sanglin-Grant & Schneider, 2000)

Besides benefiting directly from the skills and expertise of the persons with disabilities, companies that have promoted an inclusive environment can create a positive image of their company in the eyes of their stakeholders. Suppliers, consumers, the local community, the government, investors and many other concerned parties will feel proud of such an organization and will continue doing business with them. This forms the basis of good social responsibility principles.

Organizations that employ or accord equal opportunities to persons with disabilities are also better prepared to do the same to the public. Such companies may go out of their way to handle consumers with disabilities and this can enhance their client base. (McNerney, 1994)


Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

Consequently, such companies will become more competitive than others and will boost their profit margins. Similarly, managing diversity in the workplace is important for persons with disabilities because it can solicit extra funding from stakeholders within the industry. Many persons with disabilities have a wide access to grants and supports. This means that employers need not worry about tapping into their own resources in order to support such persons. (Ellis & Sonnenfield, 1993),

Embracing diversity can go a long way in solving all the problem service and product development strategies. This is because such companies will attract perspectives from different types of people and this encourages creativity. In line with this argument, some markets are emerging as very crucial in the workplace yet most of them are made up of unconventional groups such as the persons with disabilities. This can go a long way in enhancing their business potential. (Thomas &y, 1996)

Also, if a business offers equal opportunities to persons with disabilities. Then they may challenge the conventional thinking methodologies in the workplace. This means that such companies will be eliminating boundaries present in other similar business. Also, they will be demonstrating that they are embracing strategic opportunities. (Storey, 1992)

Policies and procedures that employers can use to promote equal opportunities for persons with disabilities

Organizations should demonstrate equality and diversity management in their recruitment exercises. Companies need to ensure that the selection criteria utilized is such that it does not discriminate against persons with disabilities. This means that the method used e.g. an interview should be non-discriminatory. Besides this, the sole aim in any recruitment practice should be to enroll the most competent person and to recruit on the basis of other non-job related characteristics. Companies should allow job seekers and opportunity to demonstrate that they can do a job well without dismissing them unfairly. (Gardenswartz & Rowe, 1998)


Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

Additionally, those companies who conduct recruitment through various channels or managers, need to ensure that all their representatives are well aware of equality and diversity in the workplace. This means that companies should educate or train their employees on diversity issues. They can do this by giving them a series of booklets or handbooks talking about diversity. They also need to back this up with courses and seminars about how to embrace persons with disabilities in the workplace. Seminars should not just be open to managerial personnel but should be for all employees. (Wilson et al, 1999) Organizations can also make statements (written templates) about persons with disabilities within their respective organizations in order to smoothen persons with disability’s workplace experience. Additionally, organizations need to conduct regular check ups and meetings with their staff to guide them on diversity management. They could give them practical examples of how to wok with person with disabilities. For instance, writing documents in Braille, placing important files in lower aisles for person with disability to access among others. (Ford, 1996)

Organizations can also promote equal opportunities within the workplace by making infrastructural changes e.g. making office equipment more user friendly for persons with disabilities. For instance, organizations can transform their computer application to accommodate various disability aids. For instance, they could place screen readers where persons with visual disabilities can hear information in the company intranet through a speech synthesizer. Besides this, companies can offer their information in a black and white form so as to make it possible for color blind users to follow events within their workplace. Companies can show their support for person with disabilities by according them all the rights and privileges that other employees enjoy such as holiday packages, charity events and other company activities. (Twnley, 1990) etimes, it may be particularly difficult for a person with a disability to perform certain physical tasks, this means that they require the help of a third party. The government has passed a law that allows for ‘access officers’ within any business to enhance the nature of a person’s employment opportunities . The work of the access officer is to ensure that all person with disability are aware of the services entitled to them and are utilizing them effectively. Companies need to provide all the necessary infrastructure needed to support persons with disabilities. These may include according them custom-made desks, leaving enough corridor space for wheel chairs, modifying rest room facilities to accommodate them. (Bartz, et al, 1990)

Organizations also need to make the environment positive or unbiased with regard to a person with a disability. They should treat them with respect and dignity at all times in order to boost this principle. (Cassell, 1996)


Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

Career development within any respective organization should be done fairly and transparently. There should be no room for discrimination on the basis of an individual’s physical disabilities. The latter category of individuals should be given equal opportunity as everyone else to grow and develop within the organization. Companies need to have a set procedure for promotion e.g. they could conduct job analyses annually and then discuss career progression with respective employees. (Dodds, 1995) This means that persons with disabilities will also be given an equal opportunity and they will grow with the organization. Similarly, an organization ought to be flexible enough in the event that one of their employees become disabled. They should have mechanisms that allow employees to come back to their positions. This means that companies should be ready for such eventualities and should not change their treatment of such employees.

If a particular company has any training , education or other work related development projects, then it should be their duty to provide this to all the employees within the company. No one, including a person with a disability, should be denied a fair chance to improve their job performing skills during their time with a respective company. On top of this, companies ought to make sure that they accord persons with disabilities all the work experience necessary to grow within the industry. This implies that companies should avoid firing such individuals without reasonable explanation. In relation to this argument, employers should make sure that their retirement packages, time frame and procedures are administered fairly to all employees regardless of their impairments. This means that no employer should unfairly get rid of a member of staff or forcefully retire a physically disabled employee. (Noon, and Blyton, 2002)

Companies need to recognize the fact that embracing diversity in the workplace should not just be restricted to staff members with disabilities. Their responses should also be directed to disabled persons in the community at large. This means that they should offer reasonable facilities and responses to suppliers, shareholders and customers with disabilities. This can be done within respective organizations in several ways (Kandola, 1995). First of all, they could avoid doing business with shareholders or suppliers who have no regard for diversity management and those who extend discriminatory practices against persons with disabilities. By doing this, employers will become advocates for persons with disabilities and may encourage other businesses to follow suit. Secondly, employers can depict diversity management in terms of the kind of infrastructure and services they offer their consumers. (Thewlis et al, 2004). If the company engages in the sale of items, then they could offer help


Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

filling up shopping items for persons with disabilities. Additionally, for those consumers with disabilities who can shop independently, it would help to avoid placing crucial items in the second or third floor as opposed to the first floor. This should go a long way in helping those individuals on wheel chairs. Lastly, employers could show their concern for diversity by giving donations to organizations or person with disabilities in order to facilitate their improvement even while they continue with their lives outside the organization. Gummerson, E. (1991),

Organizations should seek the opinions of disabled person within their organization when preparing an agenda for employment within the company. They should not be seen as the recipients of the policies and procedures but should also be considered as rightful stakeholders within the arrangement. (Iles, 1995) This means that companies should conduct regular meetings with person with disabilities to find out what their needs are and what the respective company can do to support them. This will transform the disabled employees role from a reactive one to a proactive one. The former approach was present at times when managing equality and diversity were a sole reserve of the human resource department. At that time, companies had to deal with numerous law suits and court proceedings relating to persons with disabilities. However, the latter approach is in line with current perceptions of diversity because it allows organizations a chance to identify potential problems and deal with them early enough. Kandola and Fullerton (1998) assert that it is possible to train certain persons to become champions of diversity. Person with abilities are a very appropriate choice for taking on this tasks. When organization trains such individuals, then they can stand out as the organization of choice within the workplace

One of the most important procedures with regard to persons with policies and procedures on diversity equality and diversity management is monitoring performance. Organizations ought to make sure that the latter benchmarks are adhered to at all times. Audits can be conducted annually to review some of the diversity objectives laid out in the persons with disabilities objectives.

Case studies of companies that have implemented diversity management.

Kandola and Fullerton (1998) assert that diversity issues need not be seen as impossible to


Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

implement because there are many companies out there who are implementing this and have gone a long way in promoting diversity within their environments. Some of them include health institutions, IT firms, accounting companies and the like. All these companies have one feature in common; they have made managing diversity and equality as part of their driving force in the environment at all times. In the book, the authors identify some common elements that need to be adhered to by companies that respect diversity.


an audit of buildings in terms of the physical attitudinal attributes that favor

person with disabilities

of diversity awareness training in a personalized and individualized

An implementation


of guidance with regard to both employers and employees


The overall purpose of such an initiative is to ensure that all employees/ potential employees with disabilities can access equal opportunities in the business. On top of that, companies are passing such policies in order to ascertain that they compaly to certain. As it can be seen from the bulleted list above, diversity management involves conducting an environmental audit, the second aspect is offering advice and the third is with regard to advice to all the current employees with regard to persons with disabilities. Sanglin-Grant, S. (2003)

Case studies

Many companies located within the European Union and The UK specifically have spearheaded the cause of equality and diversity management. Consequently, other companies that may not be certain of the route to follow can use these examples. ?(Jewson & Mason, 1994)

A health institution in the UK decided to embrace diversity with regard to person with disabilities by giving them equal opportunities. They did this by changing their recruitment polices. This company offered positions to a large number of persons with disabilities. Of all the one hundred and eight person recruited within the company, a whooping forty percent either had a health condition or had a disability. The company has been doing very well lately because they were able to attract a very skilled workforce. After the success of the initiative, this company had decided to provide other groups equal opportunities through according interviewees with sound opportunities in the workplace. (Cassell, 2006)

Additionally, a communication company within the UK decided to deliberately seek employing persons with disabilities in their organization. The company realized that so many people had not been tapped there and it wanted to embrace that opportunity by making the most of this labor force. They told most of their old employees to advice person with disabilities to apply for


Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

the vacancies. Also, advertisements placed in local newspapers indicted that the company wanted to recruit persons with disabilities The company testified that they were happy with the overall result s of the recruitment be cause al the individuals taken in attended regularly and were also highly motivated (Paddison, 990)


The country has embraced the issue of diversity within the business environment; consumers, shareholders, suppliers and investors all expect business to manage equality and diversity. (Lane and Piercy, 2003).Even legislations designed to protect person with disabilities from discrimination have been passed. Consequently, employers who fail to oblige may land in trouble. Employers should not imagine that Equality and diversity management will benefit employees alone; it is equally benefiting to the business. Managing diversity theories can be implemented in a variety of ways through training, policies and procedures and through infrastructural changes. All employees within the organization need to be aware of diversity management. Consequently, policies, ideas and theories need to be made transparent for all individuals.


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Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

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Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

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Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

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