The UK public sector has had a long‐standing policy commitment to equal opportunities, alongside limited access to managerial positions for women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. In place of equal opportunities, a new paradigm, managing diversity, originating in the USA, has been proposed. This paper examines five areas of difference between equal opportunities and managing diversity: an internal or external driving force; an operational or strategic focus; the perception of difference; the focus of action; and finally, the epistemological basis. The paper discusses the application of this model to the public sector, discussing power and equity, the relevance of the “business case” argument, the focus on customer responsiveness, and a possible explanation for the 1980s backlash. There are case studies of an NHS Trust and a local authority. The paper discusses necessary attitudinal changes and skills to implement the managing diversity paradigm in the public sector.
International Journal of Public Sector Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 1999
Keywords: Case studies; Equal opportunities; Public sector management