Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Equal opportunities and diversity

Equal opportunities and diversity


The equality relates to giving equal attention for all people disregarding sexual orientation, religion, belief, disability, marital status or age. Equal opportunities are connected with legislation intended to outlaw discrimination. The government gets involved in protecting individuals at work against discrimination in employment (either it its direct or indirect discrimination).


According to Mullins (2010 p151) ‘diversity focuses on the multiplicity of differences among people – on the variety of people as heterogeneous groupings. Individual differences are the basis of diversity.’
The concept of managing diversity admits that the workforce is composed of diverse population of people and that the diversity consists of visible and non-visible differences which including background, age, sex, race, personality, work style and disability. Using all this differences the organisation will create a productive environment where organisational goals are met, people feel valued and their talents are fully utilised.
Equality plays key role in ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and is equal, whereas diversity is looking for a great variety of people and for individual to feel respected and recognised.

Age legislation came into force on 1st October 2006 which covered all discrimination on the grounds of age. Now it is against the low if the employer discriminates the potential or existing employee because of his age. No matter if the person is in his middle twenties or in his seventies they should both be given the same equal opportunity as everyone else.
An employer while rejecting application should make sure and be careful that the reason for the rejection is not connected with the age of the potential employee.
There are many stereotypes related to the age. The typical one for the young people is that they are believed that they have lack of work experience. Most of them while seeking for the job is just after university graduation and do not have too much practical knowledge. The other one is that the youth is not so much responsible, and likes to go on the parties a lot, what can caused in being late and bad mood at work the next day of the party; affecting organisation in bad way.
The older people, especially while talking about physical task they seem to be quite slow and it takes them more time to do the same task as it would be done by someone who is younger. They can also be regarded as not being flexible with new employers. It can be difficult for elders to change their habits from previous work and start in the completely new environment with new principles. On the other hand there are also some positive aspects of the work of the elderly for instance they are really reliable workers who are strongly committed to perform the task.
Organisations can change these attitudes for instance by giving to the elderly the tasks which do not require so much effort from them, and for the youth to give them work experience they need.

The organisation I have chosen is B&Q. It is a British retailer of DIY and home improvement tools and supplies. Not many people know that B&Q is a founder member of the Employers Forum for Age. It is crucial to B&Q culture to respect their people diversity which is central to the company success.
‘We believe that a diverse workforce creates a mix of talents and that makes us a successful business.’
(B&Q, 2011)
The B&Q so far has removed the retirement age more than 15 years ago. It means that workers are allowed to continue with the company until they decided themselves it was time to leave the company. They are listed in The Times 'Top 50 places where women want to work' for four consecutive years’. It shows the company is in demand with equal opportunities for women. The B&Q workforce spans a huge age range from 16-96, approximately a quarter of the staff is over 50. Their workforce reflects 55/45 gender split. More than 1,200 of their employees speak over 60 different languages, with many being multilingual. They were well ahead of the 2004 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), for instance they changed their store layouts, introduced induction loops and Braille signage in customer toilets. Moreover they provided E-Learning in place for all employees on 'Respect for People'.
These are some of the B&Q policy goals in relation to equal opportunities:
  • ‘Eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity in employment regardless of age, gender, colour, ethnic or national origin, culture, religion or other philosophical belief, disability, marital or civil partnership status, political affiliation, sexual identity or sexual orientation.’
  • ‘Provide structured training for staff at all levels to help everyone understand and embrace the value that the diversity of our people brings to the business.’
  • ‘Ensure that our working practices are sufficiently flexible to enable our staff to balance the demands of work, family and leisure time.’
(B&Q, 2011)

Summing up equal opportunities and diversity nowadays have to be taken into account by the employers due to the legislation. The people who have achieved the biggest success in the area of equality are women, elderly and young people. Most of the stereotypes about these groups are incorrect as show on the example of the B&Q which has many workers of different ages including much older plus the workforce reflect almost fifty-fifty gender. Many organisations are improving equal opportunities and managing diversity in order to meet the rules regulations which allow a wider range of people from different backgrounds to be working together and be successful with the diversity among them.

Reference list:

Mullins, L. (2010) Management & Organisational Behaviour. 9th ed. Harlow: Prentice Hall.

UCU guidance. (2006) Age Regulations 2006. Available from:

Unknown. (2011) B&Q [online]. Available from:

Unknown. (Unknown) Business diversity [online]. Available from:

Unknown. (Unknown) Equality [online]. Available from:

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