: Research shows that despite various types of initiatives including governmentlegislation, equality initiatives, affirmative action programs, voluntary codes of practices andmany more towards equality, there is still a lot more to be done in order to promote womenand minority groups in the workplace. The first approach that virtually all governments andorganisations have been using since its formation is the “equal opportunity” legislation thatseeks equality and justice in both the workplace and society. Fundamentally, equalopportunity is a legislation that prevents discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, age,disability, religion etc. However, in this day and age, discrimination can take more complexforms than can be simply identified by the groups covered in the equal opportunitieslegislation. As a result of the shortcomings of the legislation, a more sophisticated andrelatively new approach has been developed in the United States. . Unlike equal opportunity,the core theme of this approach is to recognise and appreciate the differences in theworkforce and utilise those differences to achieve maximum outcome and profit. This newapproach is known as ‘managing diversity’.The purpose of this essay is to scrutinise and evaluate the most talked about ‘managingdiversity’ and ‘equal opportunity’ approaches in order to indentify the more suitable one between the two for today’s human resource managers.
According to Bagilhole (1997), equal opportunity in the UK has beendeveloped through several stages. She suggested that in the 1940s morality was the mainagenda. It was mainly about restoring impaired war veterans in the mainstream workforce.But during the 1960s and 1970s the establishment of government legislation became the mainconcern. As a result of which the whole equal opportunity agenda became politicised in the1980s. Furthermore, membership of European Union added a whole new element into theequal opportunity agenda at the same time. Young (2000) argues that the EU equalopportunity agenda has both positive and negative effects. Ostner and Lewis (1995) statedthat because of the link between the EU directives and the national legislation, a member country can promote only those policies that meet the local values and culture and avoidothers that do not. Bagilhole (1997) states the 1990s as the “economic, public relations and professional” era by which equal opportunities was incorporated into the politicalestablishment.Fundamentally there are three types of models of equality that exist in the literature. The firstis formal equality, otherwise known as a free and open contest for scarce resources (Flew,