HRM perspective

“Equality and Diversity is paramount to an organisation’s success in the 21st Century. ” Choose and organisation and discuss the above statement from an HRM perspective. The aim of this essay is to address the importance of Equality and Diversity in the workplace and how it contributes to an organisation’s success. The author of this essay will use the prison service as an example of an organisation that has and continues to have problems in addressing equality and diversity within its organisation and how it is addressing these issues in relation to improving recruiting and thus the service it provides the community.

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The function of the prison service is fundamental in helping to maintain order and safety to the community, whether this be in the form of housing individuals who represent a threat to others or rehabilitating prisoners to be able to make a more worthwhile contribution to the community upon release. Its effectiveness in delivering this service therefore is paramount to the future of the nation. The prison service employs around twentyfive thousand operational staff and around nineteen thousand non-operational employees to carry out its functions and of these 2.

6% of operational and 5. 1% of non-operational staff are from ethnic minority backgrounds. 1 Ethnic minorities accounted for 7. 2% of the working population in 2000. Ethnic minority and mixed origin groups will account for half the growth in the working age population over the next ten years. Unemployment is considerably higher among ethnic minority communities. In 1998, 5. 8% of white people of working age were unemployed on average, but among people from ethnic minorities it was more than double that at 13%. It was 20% for Pakistani people and 23% for Bangladeshi people.

2 As members of the public 35% of black people believe they will receive worse treatment than others from the police. About a third believe immigration services will treat them worse, and 28% identified prisons and courts as places where they could expect poorer treatment than others. As employees, 38% of black people expect worse treatment than other colleagues in the police service, and 28% expected poorer treatment in the prison service. Amongst Asian employees, 28% expected worse treatment in the police, while a quarter expected worse treatment in the prison service.

3 The facts and figures provided by The Commission for Racial Equality demonstrate worryingly clearly that a large percentage of people from ethnic minority communities have poor confidence in some of Britain’s most important public services. Not only does a large percentage have little faith in the service they may receive from these organisations but they also consider them to be non-viable career options. Is it any wonder that employment figures remain higher in these minorities if these people fear rejection and discrimination from two potential sources of employment that are desperately undermanned?

Fortunately the public services have identified that these ethnic communities have potential for supplying a healthy flow of quality candidates for vacancies, but have the mass marketing campaigns of revised and revamped policies come too late to change the negative beliefs ingrained within some of these communities? In a positive light, it would appear that the public services are adopting proactive strategies in the hope of convincing its newfound market bases that sons and daughters, regardless of creed, colour or gender, would be welcomed with open arms.

They have realised that people, regardless of background, are vital for the provision of sustained service within society and hence their success. Employers across the globe are facing a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive environment. Organisations that set a premium on the importance of people, as staff, customers and clients, and therefore use talent to the full, are more likely to meet their goals, be competitive, cope creatively with changes, and succeed.

This is equally applicable to all public organisations including the prison service. As part of the spending Review 2000 the Home Office has set itself a Public Service Agreement to: ‘Promote race equality, particularly in the provision of public services such as education, health, law and order, housing and local government, and ensure progress by the annual publication of race equality performance indicators across the public sector; and achieve representative workforces in the Home Office and its police, fire, probation and prison services.

‘4 In the Home Secretary’s second annual report on employment targets published in November 2001, it was identified that although the overwhelming majority of staff deplore racism, the Prison Service is an institutionally racist organisation. A staff survey conducted during the year concluded that 39% of staff perceived racist behaviour taking place. However the Service also made considerable progress in the year towards implementing a number of key actions contained in the RESPOND (Race Equality for Staff and Prisoners) Programme.

The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person, directly or indirectly, in the field of employment. Direct discrimination consists of treating a person, on racial grounds, less favourably than others are or would be treated in the same or similar circumstances. Segregating a person from others on racial grounds constitutes less favourable treatment.