chapter  9
25 Pages

Trade Union Experiences of Diversity

With any management practice, it is important to address the question of whether different national employment and legal systems, political discourses or cultural values have an impact on its development. This is certainly the case with diversity management (DM). As discussed in Chapter 2, DM emanates from the USA, where it was developed within a specifi c political, economic, social and legal context as a business-friendly alternative to the controversial legally driven ‘affi rmative action’ approach that had provoked much backlash. In the UK, DM entered a less proactive and more minimalist legal environment to which such an intense backlash had not been seen. Apart from DM emerging in a very different legal context in the UK, for the purposes of this chapter’s discussion of trade union experiences of diversity, it is important to note that the industrial relations system of the USA was and is very different from that of the UK where our research was conducted. We concur with the argument that the ‘success or otherwise of diversity policies . . . either at a national or at fi rm level, will be determined by the prevailing employment system’ (Hunter 2003: 88), which includes the processes that govern relations between employers and employees. The law is one aspect of these processes, but another is trade union-employer relations.