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Managing ‘difference’: understanding age diversity in practice

Riach, Kathleen (2009) 'Managing ‘difference’: understanding age diversity in practice.' Human Resource Management Journal, 19 (3). pp. 319-335. ISSN 09545395

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Abstract

This article explores how human resource (HR) managers discuss, classify and justify age diversity as both a concept and practice within the UK. The findings from 33 in-depth interviews with HR managers reveal difficulty in translating age diversity as an abstract managerial concept into workfloor policy and practice. Whilst the managers sought to emphasise the role of culture in promoting diversity, there was a lack of evidence that this related to workfloor equality or activities that proactively challenge discrimination. Moreover, there was confusion over classifying older workers as ‘diverse’, and risking possible discriminatory practices which marginalised both the older workers and other employees. The conclusions discuss how the ambiguous concept of ‘difference’ which lies at the basis of understanding both diversity and discrimination caused tension when implementing older worker strategies, and how policy makers must provide clear measures concerning the intent, objectives and definitions surrounding age equality. It is argued that a move towards an action model of discrimination management may help to create a framework where diversity and discrimination can be mutually addressed.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Depositing User: Kathleen Riach
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2011 09:47
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2011 10:36
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/1289

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