The costs and opportunities of doing diversity work in mainstream organisations

Gill Kirton*, Anne Marie Greene

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides insights into the impact that the shift from 'equal opportunities' to diversity management is having on the people who do diversity work. Equality officers have been largely replaced by diversity specialists, often with mainstream HR or business management backgrounds. They are often supplemented and supported by a new cadre of 'part-time' diversity practitioners - diversity champions, drawn from middle-senior managers. The study suggests that doing diversity work in the 2000s is a different experience from doing equality work in the 1980s/1990s. The ascendance of the business case and the depoliticisation of equality lend DM greater legitimacy and respectability. This, combined with the changing backgrounds and characteristics of diversity practitioners means that diversity work usually carries lower costs and potentially offers more opportunities than did equality work. The conclusion summarises the costs and opportunities, drawing out the main policy implications for the practitioners themselves and for organisations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-175
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

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