Presentation - Irish Congress of Trade Unions

The Business Case for Equality and Diversity
Kathy Monks
The Smart Economy: The role of human
‘The Smart Economy combines the successful elements of the
enterprise economy and the innovation or ‘ideas’ economy
while promoting a high-quality environment, improving energy
security and promoting social cohesion. A key feature of this
approach is building the innovation or ‘ideas’ component of the
economy through the utilisation of human capital – the
knowledge, skills and creativity of people - and its ability and
effectiveness in translating ideas into valuable processes,
products and services’ (Building Ireland’s Smart Economy, 2008:
The business case for investment in
equality and diversity
• The war for talent
• Globalisation of markets
resulting in a diverse customer •
based requiring understanding
of cultural diversity, together
with a diverse set of employees•
• Image as an employer as
• Equality and diversity provide •
new sources of ideas resulting
in innovation and creativity
Employees have a better
work-life balance
Legal costs involved in
employment equality claims
are avoided
Improved service delivery
through the provision of
flexible work arrangements
Links with corporate social
Equality &
Line managers
Trade Unions
Reductions in Access to new
absenteeism labour pools &
& labour
Attraction of
high calibre
service levels
& customer
The Equality-Diversity Value Chain
Business Strategy and Performance
Research in USA has highlighted a positive link between proactive
diversity management initiatives and organisational effectiveness in
terms of productivity, creativity, attraction and retention of
talented employees and the attraction of a diverse customer base
• Positive links between affirmative action programmes and
• Positive links between ethnic diversity and performance
• Evidence from the US and UK indicates that increased top
management team diversity in terms of functional background,
education, age, ethnicity, gender has a positive effect on firm
Equal opportunities policies
• Irish research indicates the positive impact of equal
opportunities policies - on employees’ well being, their sense
of fairness, and their attitudes to their jobs and their
• British research indicates a positive relationship between equal
opportunities policies and productivity with an enhanced effect
where there were more women and ethnic groups employed
• Introduction of equal opportunities policies need to be
included as part of the package of HR policies that employers
introduce when trying to enhance productivity and employee
job satisfaction rather than as stand-alone policies.
Link between strategies and innovation
outcomes [National Workplace Survey, NESDO, 2009]
- Consultation
- Direct employee
- Flexible working
- Work/life balance
Learning strategies
- Staff training and
- Formal PMDS
- In-house dispute
- Equality and diversity
Innovation Outcomes
Co-working, social
interaction strategies
- Employees experiment
with new ways of
- Less hierarchical
- New work structures,
team working,
quality circles
- Staff network with other
Flexible work hours and performance
• Irish employees working flexible hours report reductions in
work pressures and higher levels of autonomy while those
working part-time report reduced work stress and work
pressures .
• An Irish study of work-life balance found that satisfaction with
working hours and working arrangements were found to be
positively associated with overall work satisfaction and life
satisfaction and related to lower stress levels
• A study of software employees in the UK indicated that worklife balance and flexibility in managing the work-life boundary
influences employees’ views of whether or not they are treated
fairly by employers.
Flexibility and Performance
• An initiative by BT to enable people to work from home found that
these employees are more efficient and deliver more profit to the
business with absenteeism rates that are 2% less than the UK
• A review of flexible working arrangements in the USA reports that
these policies reduce lateness, absenteeism and turnover and have a
positive impact on retention
• The Second Work-Life Balance study in the UK found that the
majority of employers who provided flexible work arrangements
found them cost effective with a positive impact on labour turnover,
motivation and commitment and employee relations.
• Senior managers are poor role models of flexible working
arrangements and a culture of presenteeism persists in
many organisations with opportunities for promotion
perceived as requiring long working hours.
• Line managers may find themselves managing equality
and diversity on top of all their other responsibilities and
may block, for example, flexible working arrangements as
these cause problems in managing their workforce. How
line managers interpret and implement policies is
therefore crucial.
The Role of Line Managers
• Studies in the USA have shown that top management and
immediate supervisors can undermine official work-family benefit
programmes by actions that include not informing employees of
their existence, refusing access or promoting traditional
organisational cultures that reward only individuals who pursue
work goals without reference to personal life issues
• Research into part-time work among nurses in the National Health
Service in the UK found that line managers were often
unenthusiastic about part-time working, even though this was
shown to improve retention rates among nurses
• Recent Irish research indicates that line managers may be poorly
trained in the management of equality and diversity and that the
diversity of their needs as managers may not necessarily be
catered for by organisations.
The Role of Trade Unions [1]
• Recent research in the UK suggests that unions can play a
positive role in promoting gender equality. Equality
bargaining emerges as a result of women’s voice within
unions, the characteristics of bargainers themselves and a
framework of public policy that supports trade unions and
collective bargaining.
• A study of French and UK trade unions indicates that unions
are relatively marginal to the process of introducing work-life
balance policies and that employer-led initiatives often place
them in a defensive position. However, there is a strong link
between the existence of equal opportunities polices and
WLB policies in the workplace. The presence of women in the
union shown to be crucial.
The Role of Trade Unions [2]
• Research in Scotland suggests that the equal
opportunities agenda continues to be marginalised
within collective bargaining. However, the
emergence of specialist equalities officers as key
insiders articulating the case for action has
progressed the equal opportunities agenda within
unions. At the same time, the leadership provided by
such specialists may be constrained by bureaucratic
structures within unions and undermined by apathy,
hostility or lack of awareness among workplace
The Role of Trade Unions [3]
• Research in Scotland suggests that unions’
approaches to equalities are largely based on the
‘sameness’ or equal treatment model and to a lesser
extent the ‘difference’ model and, while making some
reforms, unions are not substantially engaging with
the underlying structural causes of inequality.
• Research in the UK suggests that in unionised
workplaces, the treatment experienced by Black
workers – compared with White workers – is
perceived to be more unequal than in non-unionised
Costs of Ignoring Diversity
• Costs of replacing employees who leave because of lack of
opportunities or discrimination within the workplace
• Absenteeism costs – if employees feel undervalued or experience
discrimination, harassment and bullying
• Legal costs where employees take a case plus damage to corporate
• Productivity reductions due to increased turnover and absenteeism
• Increased conflict within the workplace
• Increased management costs
• Poor internal communications
Critical Success Factors I
• Leadership: Top management support and committed high
profile leaders who will demonstrate the importance of
equality and diversity
• Vision and Values: The incorporation of equality and diversity
into organisation vision and values and ensuring that is
becomes a core activity
• Integration of equality and diversity objectives into business
objectives: Inclusion in objective setting, reward and
• Assessment of specific needs of organisation and tailoring of
management of diversity to those needs: Customisation of
equality and diversity to fit with organisational strategy
Critical Success Factors II
• Ownership for diversity and equality is spread
throughout organisation
• Organisational support: through training, for line
managers, for diverse teams
• Involvement of employees in design and implementation
of equality and diversity initiatives
• Measurement
• Integration with other HR policies & practices
• Embedded into organisational change
Challenges to Implementing equality
and diversity initiatives
• lack of awareness about equality and diversity and what they mean
• Limited capability to develop and implement equality and diversity
• Lack of commitment by senior management
• Discriminatory attitudes and behaviours
• Difficulties in measuring the results of initiatives
• Inadequacy of financial resources allocated
• A lack of understanding of the business benefits
• Difficulties in changing the culture of an organisation
• Danger of marginalisation within organisations as economic focus shifts to
cost cutting, redundancies and work intensification
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