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How does diversity differ from equal opportunities?


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How does diversity differ from equal opportunities?

1. Lead-in

Consider the following questions:

  1. What do you mean by equal opportunities?
  2. How can you account for the fact that discrimination still persists in our world?
  3. What types of discrimination do you know?
  4. Have you ever been discriminated? If yes, under what circumstances?
  5. To what extent does gender influence recruitment decisions?


While diversity and equal opportunities are both about making the idea of equality real in your organisation, diversity and equal opportunities are not exactly the same thing. Equal opportunities has a history dating back to the 1970s, while diversity is quite a recent idea, starting to become influential in the UK in the 1990s.

In the International Journal of Public Sector Management, Wilson and Iles (1) identify five main areas of difference between equal opportunities and diversity. While the article was written primarily with the public sector in mind, there are a number of points that translate well into the voluntary sector and to volunteer management.

Wilson and Iles’ five main areas of difference between equal opportunities and managing diversity are:

1. The reasons for adopting equal opportunities or managing diversity (summary: Equal opportunities is often seen as a legal requirement, which is imposed by external forces. Managing diversity is internally driven)

Operational or strategic focus (summary: Organisations effectively managing diversity look at outcomes as well as processes and procedures, and shift equal opportunities to be more strategic rather than operational).

3. The perception of difference (summary: The equal opportunities approach is trying to right a wrong for certain groups, whereas by managing diversity organisations are trying to get it right for everyone)

4. The focus of initiatives (summary: Organisations which work within the equal opportunities framework adopt a group approach, whereas the focus in the diversity model is on developing individuals).

5. Different theoretical bases (summary: The equal opportunities style of management assumes there is a single best way of doing things, whereas diversity accepts that one perspective is no more ‘correct’ than any other.


3. Vocabulary development

3.1. Fill in the blanks in the following text with the words given in bold:

requirements diversity pressures sense arguments

Many companies and organisations adopt equal opportunities policies because of external . Wilson and Iles suggest that this response 'varies between a narrow minimalist response to legislative , and a wider concern that people should be treated equally, based on ethical and human rights or moral . Managing on the other hand is internally driven, from a . of commitment by the organisation and its key players'.

opportunities force staff

The driving behind introducing diversity management policies is seen as the ‘business case’ - that a diverse workforce will result in more focused marketing, greater creativity and decision making and happier who stay longer and benefit from organisational .

public range profile volunteers organisation

Looking at the marketing example - the voluntary sector supports and works with a diverse of service users, supporters and partners. If the ‘public face’ of an reflects that diverse public, then individuals will more easily identify with it, thinking 'this is an organisation for me'. Volunteers are the face of many organisations, and if diverse, will be more welcoming to users and members. Also, if are drawn from a wide sector of the community, then they each tell their friends and family, raising the of your service.

(adapted from https://www.

3. Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with a word derived from the word given at the end of each sentence:

1. at the working place is a topical issue in both the western and eastern world.


Women usually contend that they have work opportunities as compared with men.


3. Bill Clinton’s visit to Romania was a moment.


4. Exploring the sites of London could be a quite rewarding experience.


5. He is a government official extremely with different people in very high circles.


6. After months of strenuous research, the main causes of their failure to meet international standards remained .


7. This question addresses those prone to xenophobia.


8. tourists flock to the big cities of the world every day in search of yet unimagined sensations.


9. Because your application is incomplete, it will rest until a further date.


10. After accumulating lots of practice in organising package tours, the travel agency decided to their findings in a report published in a local journal.


3. Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with the required preposition.

  1. My methods differ a lot the more conventional ones.
  2. The history of this project dates back 1985.
  3. What did you have mind when you called that company?
  4. The reasons establishing a new basis cooperation are my depth.
  5. Let’s focus this issue now and we will look the other one a later date.
  6. the present framework of rules, we have to abide each one of them.
  7. Equality job opportunities is essential.
  8. Her influence the whole project is undeniable.
  9. There’s no visible difference the way they are treating immigrants their country.
  10. There has been no shift our regulations since they came force.

4. Language focus: The tense system: Past Perfect Continuous

4.1. The tense system: Past Perfect Continuous

Form: to be (in the past perfect) + verb + ing: I had been writing. Had I been writing? Yes, I had. No, I hadn’t.

It indicates: a past action in development before another past action and also continuing that moment: When he came she had been reading for two hours.

often used in past perfect and past perfect progressive sentences: when, after, as soon as, before, by the time

e.g. After they had been quarrelling for minutes, I asked them to stop.

We had been waiting for weeks before we got the money.

They had been negotiating for hours by the time I got there.

4. Choose the correct form of the verb in the following sentences:

  1. The staff complained that they had asked/had been asking for better working conditions for two months.
  2. We had hoped/had been hoping to solve our problem easily and were very disappointed when we couldn’t.
  3. Our partners had looked forward/had been looking forward to the contract to be signed and became quite angry when it had been cancelled/had been being cancelled.
  4. The whole staff had worked/had been working until the last minute and they had no time left to decorate the room for the meeting.
  5. The newspapers had been publishing/had published a lot of articles on the accident for weeks when they found out about it.
  6. We had been discussing/had discussed all day with our partners and by 10 o’clock the agreement wasn’t signed.
  7. Our competition had done/had been doing everything they could to attack us and we had to take steps towards fighting back.
  8. When the PR assistant arrived, the customers had waited/had been waiting for her for hours.
  9. He asked us why we had written/had been writing such a long preamble to our report.
  10. After the President had looked/had been looking through our papers for a while, he decided to speak.

Writing. Comment on the following statement: People are born equal and therefore they should benefit from equal opportunities in society.

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