In the United Kingdom, every organization is committed to promote equality, value diversity and create an all-inclusive environment for both their clients as well as their employees in their policy. They are increasingly embracing diverse environments at local and also international level. This can be noticed in their clients, customers, workforce, suppliers, suppliers, partners and communities. The business environment is very competitive and for an organization to be successful, performances and employees engagement is a key factor. Therefore, this paper attempts to evaluate the key features of the equality and diversity of an organization. The organization to be examined critically is UK Oxford shire. The paper would examine the challenges in which the organization experience in operationalizing its policy and approaches which could be taken to ensure effective implementation.
Age UK Oxford shire is an organization that is promoting the well-being of old persons and is working to make later life most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences. They understand that all people are individual with diverse preferences, abilities and needs. The organization is aiming to reflect diversity and equality in everything it undertakes. They make their services accessible and inclusive to old persons from all sections of the community, retaining and attracting diverse workforce. Age UK Oxford shire believes that discrimination denies human dignity and should be actively opposed. Diversity means variety, difference and multiplicity. It implies an approach to tackle an inequality that stems from forms of discrimination based on disability, age, disability, domestic circumstances, ethnic or national origin, gender. In addition, they want equality regardless of nationality, race, religion or belief, political affiliation, sexual orientation and trade union membership.
Age UK Oxford shire is aiming at treating people in a fair manner, dignity and with respect. The organization cannot give room any form of victimization, harassment and discrimination. Their aim is to value differences in a positive manner. Age UK Oxford shire believes that in order to be more effective and a better place to work they require to harness attributes, experiences and contributions. The organization prioritizes equality as their mainstream part of work. They make sure that their policies, practices and plans embrace equality targets and objectives appropriately. Age UK Oxford shire organization is committed to publicly do something visible and practical about Diversity and Equality.
Ageism can be defined as ‘application of assumed age-based group characteristics to an individual, regardless of that individual’s actual personal characteristics’3. Age discrimination can be experienced by anyone, at any age, young and old. As an example, in an interview the panel may assume that ‘older’ candidates are less able to learn new skills or ‘younger’ candidates are less likely to be committed to the organization. Such assumptions may mean that the panel members fail to consider the individual’s skills, experience and personal characteristics.
The ‘social model’ of disability, which MMU supports, locates the disability within the physical barriers and negative attitudes in society rather than a person’s impairment. In the medical model, disabled people are seen as the problem. They need to change and adapt to circumstances (if they can), and there is no suggestion that society needs to change. It is important to avoid characterizing disabled people as a victimized group. Avoid expressions that turn adjectives into nouns e.g. ‘the disabled’ which depersonalize, or which define people in terms of their disability, such as ‘epileptics’. It is helpful to use positive images of disabled people in case studies etc. in order to illustrate that disability is incidental to the activity being undertaken. Bear in mind the needs of disabled people in the design of written material. In producing typed text consider the size and shape of the typeface to ensure that the maximum number of readers can see it clearly without assistance.
This will help those with visual loss or dyslexia to read the text, as smaller and more elaborate fonts are more difficult to read. High contrast text/images with uncluttered backgrounds are best. Try to avoid text superimposed on images. Glossy paper and coloured print also make reading more difficult for everyone. Written materials, where requested should be available in alternative formats e.g. on disk for those unable to read print and in advance of the meeting or lecture. All web based material should be accessible to the technologies used by some disabled people and conform to the good practice guidelines on accessibility to disabled people.
The English language has traditionally tended to assume the world to be male unless specified otherwise and therefore it is important to be sensitive to ways in which the use of sex neutral words can actively promote equality. Using ‘he’ to refer to an unspecified person is now generally considered unacceptable and it is preferable to use ‘(s) he’, ‘she/he’ or’s/he’ or ‘he or she’ and vice versa. Use gender-neutral language; women are also often referred to in terms of the title conferred by their marital status ‘ ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’. As you will often not know a woman’s marital status, it is safer to use the title ‘Ms’, which may not always be their preferred title, but will not be inaccurate. Approximately half of the people in paid work in Britain are women and a minority of households now takes the form of a traditional nuclear family. It is important to reflect this in case studies and teaching materials and you should consider showing women in jobs, hobbies and roles traditionally ascribed to men and vice versa. Use ‘partner’ instead of spouse routinely, to avoid assuming that everyone is a heterosexual couple or part of a ‘traditional’ family. Sex has traditionally been associated with the words for particular roles for example ‘foreman’, ‘housewife’ and ‘chairman’. The test is always to ask yourself whether you would describe someone of the other sex in the same way and so using the word ‘chairman or ‘chairwoman’ to advertise a post on a committee or board would not be advisable.
Race and Ethnicity
When it comes to cultural classification or ethnicity both of these factors are always self-defined and one individual’s opinion may differ from another. The term ‘ethnicity’ is used to refer to the sense of identity which derives from shared cultural characteristics such as language, religion, history or geographical location. Everyone has a race and belongs to an ethnic group, whether they are in the majority or minority. The term ‘ethnic’ to describe someone’s racial origin is therefore meaningless. BME stands for black and minority ethnic. ‘Minority ethnic’ refers to those people/groups other than the white British majority. The term ‘black people’ refers to Black British, African-Caribbean, African, or African American people. Opinion is divided amongst British Asians about whether they consider themselves as ‘black’ and for this group the term should be considered a matter of self-definition. ‘Asian’ and ‘South Asian’ in the UK is used to refer to people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and their British Asian descendants. ‘South East Asian’ includes people and their descendants from the Far East.
Religion and Belief
You should be respectful of people’s religious beliefs and be aware that some terminology may offend. The most commonly used inappropriate terms in the UK tend to refer to Christianity. You should be respectful of, and sensitive to, the way in which we refer to the religious beliefs and customs of all faiths.
The dominant societal bias towards heterosexual lifestyles fosters assumptions that attraction to people of the opposite sex is the ‘norm’ and a different orientation towards people of the same sex is therefore unacceptable. As equal members of society lesbians and gay men should be described in terms that do not demean them, sensationalize their lives or imply deviance. The term ‘homosexual’ is generally not used now, as it has medical and derogatory connotations and is often considered only to refer to men. To avoid any misunderstanding people should stick to using the words lesbian, gay or bisexual – even though they may hear LGB people choosing to speak about themselves differently. Care is needed however. Some women, for instance, may refer to themselves as gay women rather than as lesbians.
‘Trans’ is an inclusive term for those who identify themselves as transgender, transsexual or transvestite. The word ‘trans’ can be used without offence to cover people undergoing gender transition; people who identify as someone with a different gender from that in which they were born, but who may have decided not to undergo medical treatment; and people who choose to dress in the clothing typically worn by the other sex.
Challenges in Operationalization of the Policy
Furthermore, the legal and social structures put in place not only enable this to happen, but are deliberately utilized to create inequality. Jewson and Mason (1986) argued that at times those responsible for equality of opportunity at the ground level deliberately conflate policy models to confuse opponents; we believe that the problem is much greater than this.
The 1998 guidelines for EU member states refers to ”main streaming” of gender
equality issues into all four of the pillars for action of increased employment,
entrepreneurship, adaptability and equal opportunity (Booth and Bennett, 2002). The
concept of main streaming is not unproblematic. For example, gender specific issues
around violence, poverty, abuse and prostitution are impossible to ad dress with
main streaming. The focus on equal treatment further denies the oppression of certain
groups (Young, 2000).
At the organizational level main streaming has meant something else. Part of this organizational mainstreaming agenda has been caught up in the development of a parallel project which is often labelled as ”diversity ”. On one level it is a free-standing policy objective, where greater diversity is something to be pursued and celebrated, on another it forms the co re of a policy agenda known as ”man aging diversity” (Kandola et al. 1995). While managing diversity has made an impact on some organisations, as we will argue below (see also Johns, 2006), in practical terms it has yet to displace equal opportunities thinking, language and practice. Diversity, as a principle is conceptually at odds with the policy of mainstreaming, despite its inclusive language (Dickens, 1994).