The following essay is a review on the book entitled Equality, Inequalities and Diversity: Contemporary Challenges and Strategies. This book was designed to highlight the various issues associated with equality and diversity scholarship by way of original empirical evidence. The book’s focus on equality and diversity in organizations, which includes empirical studies that utilize various concepts and classifications, such as intersectionality, helps the reader understand practical application of theoretical concepts. The book consists of 16 interrelated chapters, all of which lend to one another in the concepts and findings discussed. Each chapter is written by different authors and provides reports and studies that help to further the discussion. This review will focus on four particular chapters in order to provide an overview and an understanding of the implications of the discussions and findings that are included in the content of the book.
Chapter 1: Inequalities, intersectionality and equality and diversity initiatives
This chapter introduces four important themes that are present throughout this book, including the importance of intersectionality, the shift from equality policy to diversity management, the limits and possibilities of the law and the requirement for a transformative agenda. The editors author this chapter themselves in order to ensure that a proper introduction to all proceeding chapters is given.
This chapter introduces intersectionality as a theory that different forms of oppression are influential and interrelated on one another. This process is described as important to academic discussions, debators, and policy makers. In the field of equality and diversity, it involves a deconstruction of categories such as race, gender, disability, class, and sexual orientation among others.The shift from equality policy to diversity management refers to the change of emphasis of organizations. Although there are similar goals in both equality and diversity practices, it seems as if organizations have gone from focusing on the social justice perspective of equality to the emphasis on economic rationale that diversity brings, by way of a changing-globalizing economic climate. The authors then reiterate idea that the law plays an important rule in the development of equality initiatives is a known. However, Healy, Kirton and Noon emphasize that there are obstacles in the form of structural and institutional limitations that disallow legal intervention to be the main driver for radical changes to occur. Lastly, the chapter speaks about a transformation agenda that aims to transform organizational norms where practices and hierarchies are contributing conditions of exclusion and inequality. The chapter ends off by introducing new, structures, such as shadow-structures, which will utilize understanding of how power is created and maintained, are vital to creating social transformation in the grand scheme of things.
Chapter 9: Flexibility and Equality: Friend or Foe?
In this chapter, author Hazel Conley introduces the concept of flexibility in the workplace, defining it with related terms such as the insecure workforce, atypical employment, and vulnerable work. Conley adds that flexible work is, by nature, unevenly and disproportionately distributed, as only employees with certain characteristics require it. In the next sections the author relates flexibility and equality with gendered and ethnicised experience of temporary work. This chapter emphasizes the ways that non-standard work can contribute to the disadvantages experienced by those who are commonly subjected to inequality in the workplace. The concept of flexicurity, of which the main aim is to improve non-standard work conditions, is viewed as both an ally and an enemy to equality. This chapter provides a practical example, using EU legislation, of how law can create limitations and inefficiencies in the quest for equality. In this case, EU legislation deregulates employers in the hiring and firing of non-standard workers and focuses on assisting the employees in the transition phase.
The chapter concludes that the regulations regarding flexibility in the workplace by way of non-standard work, where employees are able to do both paid work in the office and unpaid work at home, are in need of reconfiguration. Seeing as it is often the already disadvantaged groups that are employed in non-standard work, it is important to apply employee-friendly directives in order for social structure and legislation to meet both ends of the flexicurity bargain.
Chapter 15 and 16
Chapters 15 and 16 revolve around the attitudes, expectations and professional development of young black and minority ethnic people as they graduate and enter the workforce. These two chapters are paired up appropriately and provide a complimentary and transitional effect for the reader. They offer excellent insights and develop on previously mentioned findings.
Chapter 15: Work-life balance: attitudes and expectations of young black and minority ethnic graduates
Chapter 15 focuses on work-life balance (WLB) and how gender, ethnic, and graduate identities intersect in the formation of WLB standards. The research mentioned in this section indicates that ethnic, cultural, and religious identities, along with gender roles play a part in individuals’ perception of WLB norms. The chapter relays the modernized facets of minority life and how traditional gender roles for women are accompanied with the desire for study and career alongside a family orientation. It concluded by emphasizing that although most of the men in the related studies considered their roles to be the traditional breadwinner of their families, a shifting focus to family life responsibilities might cause expectations for more accommodating and flexible work.
Chapter 16: What shapes the careers of young black and minority ethnic people?
Black and minority ethnic (BME) people are further discussed in chapter 16 by way of a study of over 100 young BME people. This chapter attempts to answer queries such as “Do young BME people think that they are discriminated against?” using empirical evidence. In this attempt, the study made it possible to classify BME individuals into different categories. These categories include: the strategist, the hard-worker, the opportunist, the skeptic, and the discouraged. This section gives the reader an excellent understanding of the career motivations of different types of people and how inequality can affect them in a transition from one type to another. The following paragraph summarizes these classifications as per chapter 16.
The strategist is one who carefully plans each phase of their career, with the understanding that they must differentiate themselves by strategically acquiring skills through various experiences that will set them apart from their competition. The hard-worker sees training, qualifications, effort, and achievement of goals as the key to success, slightly overlapping the strategist in characteristics. On the other end of the spectrum, the skeptic has a strong awareness of racism and discrimination, and maintains a shield by criticizing an organization’s culture. Finally, there is the discouraged. For this type, unpleasant past experiences demotivate and discrimination confirms an unfavorable destiny. The downward spiral limits their ability to access resources that will help their involvement in the labor markets.
This book provides an excellent resource for diversity scholars around the world. The aforementioned chapters are an example of the book’s theoretical value in the sense that is provides a framework and evidence for practical use among policy makers, activists, and scholars alike. It is structured in a way that each chapter lends to another yet simultaneously each chapter is a gem individually as well. The collection of authors provides for a diverse understanding of concepts and the content is diverse in itself. The topics covered are wide ranging in nature, content-wise, geographically, and in terms of perspective. Most of all, this book is time-relevant and a must-read for the modern day manager of any organization, especially in this era of globalization where diversity and equality are of utmost importance.
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