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Dianne Bown-Wilson

in my prime

Chief Executive

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Book Review: Diversity in the workplace – Multi-disciplinary and international perspectives


Today workplace diversity is a huge and multi-faceted topic that all organisations must address at a variety of levels across all areas of their operations.

But, as this book proves, just because a subject is huge doesn’t mean to say that it has to be impenetrable.
Editor Stefan Groschl gets things off to a good start by succinctly outlining the dual challenge that businesses face, thereby putting down a clear marker for the topics that follow:
“Internally organizations promote diversity and manage increasingly heterogeneous workforces, accommodate and integrate employees with different value and belief systems and combat a range of different forms of discrimination with both organizational and societal consequences.
“Externally organizations have to manage demands from governmental, consumer and lobbying sources for the implementation of anti-discrimination policies and laws and for attracting and integrating employees from minority or historically disadvantaged groups.
“These demands and activities affect the review and revision of organizational culture, HR policies and practices and ethical standards.”
Dip in
In structural terms, ‘Diversity in the Workplace’ is an edited volume of papers, written by leading international diversity scholars and researchers.
There’s no getting round the fact that, although a nod is given towards “practitioners wanting to understand managing workforce diversity”, this is fundamentally an academic book aimed primarily at academics, researchers and higher level students.
The volume is presented in two parts: the first covers theoretical frameworks, strategic issues and policies, diversity management and training, and practices and systems.
Part two, however, places diversity matters into specific country contexts. While this latter section is potentially useful for people working in global organisations, the chapter on ethnic and religious diversity in the Balkans may prove a tad too specialist for most.
That said, the book’s structure means that there is no need to read it from cover-to-cover and it is possible to dip into it as and when motivated or required.
With my own particular interests being gender and age, I was keen to see whether the latter in particular received any coverage. Fortunately, yes – inclusivity was practised.
An interesting chapter on ‘Diversity management in Germany’ incorporated an empirical age management study. While the results conflicted to some degree with studies elsewhere, they also demonstrated unequivocally that there is no significant difference in the flexibility of older and younger workers.
Reviewer’s rating
Out of five, this book deserves four stars. It misses a five due to two major hurdles, which the potential reader is forced to overcome.
First is the work’s appearance. Now, call me shallow, but with time being tight, an existing reading pile the size of Mount Snowdon and the lure of other activities to pursue, I like a book to look good – as in a cover that’s tempting and a layout that’s pleasing and reader-friendly.
Unfortunately, this book has neither and, in designing it to be as visually appealing as a plain boiled potato, I feel it has been let down by its publishers.
Second, is the price tag. Checking on Amazon, it is currently available for around £60, which confirms the intended academic market but does little to improve its accessability to others.
Both of these elements are unfortunate because, with such a wide-ranging and crucial role to play in today’s workplace, it is vital that those responsible for diversity strategy and policies take the broadest possible view of the factors involved by keeping up with academic thinking and research.
On the plus side, however, the multi-national perspectives presented in the book provide a wealth of knowledge and insight and it contains much that is of potential use and interest to anyone in the diversity field. So save up your pennies because, ultimately, I’d rate this book as a worthwhile investment.
  • Our reviewer this time was Dianne Bown-Wilson, age management and later-life careers expert.
  • If you’d like to see a film, TV or book review of your own in print, please either send it to the editor at [email protected] or post it directly to our blogs section based on the format above.
  • We also have a book club area, which provides a list of possible works for review too – all you have to do is email the editor as above, have the book of your choice sent out to you and we’ll publish the review for the rest of the community to read when you’re done.
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Dianne Bown-Wilson

Chief Executive

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