Equality and Diversity Essay

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Inequality exists, even in societies without formal stratification (Parsons, 1970). Whilst complete societal equality may be unattainable, Equal Opportunities (EO) policies aim to ‘reduce the gap'. Inequality takes different forms and there is much theoretical debate regarding which grouping variables, such as gender or age, are important. There exist three key notions of ‘equality of opportunity’: formal, liberal and radical. The former two are minimalist concepts, concerned principally with equality of opportunity - the ‘beginning’ of the process. Conversely, the radical perspective, a maximalist concept, is more concerned with outcome. This paper outlines these three approaches, evaluates their successes and considers whether…show more content…
For Johns and Green (2009), simply to address individual, direct forms of discrimination is insufficient; only two forms of EO can be aimed at institutional discrimination - radical (which they do not support) or liberal. The liberal notion, incorporating elements of formal EO, defines equality as ‘equality of fair opportunity’ (Rawls, 1999), with the fundamental aim that individuals possessing equal talents and ambitions should also have equal prospects. The model recognises that the effects of past discrimination are likely to impact negatively on current equality of opportunity and the impact of institutional discrimination. Here, whilst merit-based recruitment may be applied, some individuals may not have had the same opportunities as a result of such group characteristics as gender or ethnicity. Although this model, sometimes known as ‘prospect-regarding equal opportunities’ formed part of the legislation of the early 1970s, it was seldom used (Iganski and Mason, 2003). A need to employ policies to reduce gaps in income, educational attainment, wealth and health was recognised and addressed by such legislation as the Equal Pay Act, 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Race Relations Act 1976 (superceded by the Equality Act 2010). Liberal notions of equality became the preferred option of New Labour following the Macpherson Report. For Edwards and Batley (1978), it can be used in two different ways. It can

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