Successful organizations take pride in implementing diversity at workplaces and they devote some resources as well for taking care of this challenge. The changing demographics of the UK further compound this challenge. There are a large number of ethnic minorities in the UK, and a recent study projects that by 2020 half of UK’s population will be over-50, and a third of those between 50 and retirement age will be classified as disabled. Government of the UK has also realized the need for paying more attention towards the diversity in society and managing it. The ‘Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR)’ has been set up by the Equality Act 2006, which emphasizes that ‘Equality, diversity, and respect for the human rights and dignity of every man, woman, and child are core values that define our lives in Britain.’ The vision for the CEHR is based on the Government’s view that equality is not a minority concern – it matters to every citizen. The commission will be fully functional by October 2007. While the spirit behind this act has got overwhelming support from HR practitioners, apprehensions are also expressed by many speakers during a conference on race, held in London in November 2006. while HR professionals are taking a sigh of relief that the legislative mess of dealing with 35 Acts, 52 statutory instruments and 13 codes of practice on equality issues will be over with the implementation of CEHR, there are other speakers during this conference, who believe that racial concerns will slip down the agenda once they become just one part of the body’s work, as it gears up to fight discrimination on seven fronts.
A survey of 112 HR practitioners by Personnel Today’s sister publication IRS Employment Review, shows that respondents hope the CEHR will make things simpler. It is worthwhile here to note that the implementation of any law in letter and spirit depends on the intentions of the organization and how seriously it values the corporate social responsibility. Therefore CEHR will have more of a guiding and nudging role in carrying out the tasks. In fact, the survey findings also point out that 81% respondents would be happy if the commission just issued advice on good practice and tools for employers, rather than carry out investigations (40%) and legal enforcement (31%).
The global economy has made it almost mandatory for international corporations that an effective strategy is adopted for managing diversity. Companies are moving towards flatter organizational structures, and the global economy is allowing the movement of the workforce across national boundaries, effective interaction amongst diverse workers becomes more critical for the smooth organizational functioning. In fact, now that debate has started whether the concept of ‘managing diversity. forms an alternative to ‘equal opportunities’ based on gender bias. In the UK, human resource practitioners and academics alike are becoming more aware of the emergence of managing diversity.