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Monday, 23rd September 2019
 
Diverse Ethics - Atul Shah - Wisdom Blog

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EQUALITY NEEDS SPIRIT

The Equality Act of 2010 is upon us now. It has a wide-ranging series of laws about employment and services inspired by the UN Human Rights Charter. Each and every human being is worthy of respect irrespective of colour, creed, ability, gender, age or sexuality. The Act is in spirit about dignity and respect.

Surprisingly, the reaction from most organisations so far has been in terms of rules and administration, rather than understanding and embracing the spirit. The leadership in this whole area has been appalling in this country. The HR profession, led by the CIPD, is an example of this 'box-ticking' approach, where setting 'proper' rules and ensuring 'proper' behaviour is emphasised over the substance of the proposals. In fact, in their course materials and training, there is hardly any emphasis on cultural awareness or competence. I wrote an article for Personnel Today commenting on the urgent need for the CIPD to embrace race equality.

As for management and government and corporate leaders, you only have to look at the facts. There is hardly any diversity at this level, even in terms of gender, although in relative terms, women in senior positions have seen a significant improvement over the years. The truth is that most leaders simply do not get equality, or if they do, they do not want equality to be practiced. They want power to be male and mono-cultural in Britain. This is the simple raw truth, and it is being disguised by superficial codes of fairness and equality, and departments of equality and diversity in these organisations.

One of the biggest problems for people and organisations is that they are not willing to accept their inequality and ignorance about equality and diversity. And acceptance is critical for effective work to begin. All this requires is that they then seek quality professional help.

The solution is for leaders to take the initiative and put their hands up about equality and diversity. They need to admit to a lack of understanding about the spirit of equality and its impact on values, motivation and performance. Yes, embracing equality directly impacts on organisational culture and values, and perhaps this is what leaders are trying to avoid. There is a huge cost to avoiding this - not just in terms of employment tribunals and lawsuits, but also in terms of lost markets, opportunity and creativity and innovation. A holistic approach is needed, and brushing equality under the carpet will not make it go away. We have established Diverse Ethics precisely with this target, and have the skills and know-how to help leaders and organisations make important transformations in this area.

Dynamic and progressive leaders, we await your calls. You can email Dr. Atul Shah here.

Article added on 8th December 2010 at 9:37am
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