Diversity in Organizations: HRM and International Practices

Otaye-Ebede, Lilian; Priola, Vincenza and Yerby, Elaine (2017). Diversity in Organizations: HRM and International Practices. In: Crawshaw, Jonathan R.; Budhwar, Pawan and Davis, Ann eds. Human Resource Management: Strategic and International Perspectives, Volume 2nd ed. London: Sage.


The concept of diversity is used to refer to social categories, such as gender, ethnicity, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation, which indicate groups who have been historically subjected to discrimination in society and work. In addition to these main categories, other dimensions such as social class and work or management status are often included when referring to diversity. Scholars distinguish these categories in several ways, but one of the most common is the distinction between visible (e.g. gender, race or ethnicity, age) and invisible (e.g. sexual orientation, religion) dimensions (Priola et al., 2013). Generally, discrimination on the basis of invisible dimensions is more difficult to detect and to expose and can cause stress in employees relating to their decision to disclose (or not) invisible categorisations (Clair et al, 2005 and Ragins et al, 2007). The overarching aim of this chapter is to explore diversity within the context of HRM in a global perspective. The chapter begins with a discussion on the evolution of diversity and its legislative underpinning. We go on to discuss the business case argument for diversity management (a discourse that connects workforce diversity and enhanced organisational outcomes) and how it relates to HRM. Additionally, we discuss the relationship between diversity management and strategic HRM, culminating with a discussion on the future of international diversity management. Within the chapter there are a number of organisational examples and case studies which students can use to apply their learning. At the end of the chapter students will be able to critically evaluate the different diversity perspectives and the impact they have on organisational approaches to diversity management. In addition, students will have the opportunity to reflect on the relationship between strategic HRM and diversity management and the challenges and barriers associated with embedding effective diversity policies and practices in organisations. With a focus on different international and cultural contexts, the chapter aims to move beyond taken-for-granted assumptions and rhetoric about diversity management and expose students to the realities of embedding diversity initiatives within organisations. As students explore diversity issues in a range of organisational and international settings, as discussed in this chapter, they will have the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of contemporary diversity management approaches and practices.

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