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Journal cover: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal

ISSN: 2040-7149
Previously published as: Equal Opportunities International

Online from: 2010

Subject Area: Human Resource Management

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Diversity in the British NHS: the business versus the “moral” case

Document Information:
Title:Diversity in the British NHS: the business versus the “moral” case
Author(s):Nick Johns, (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK), Alison Green, (Faculty of Health, Education and Society, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK), Martin Powell, (School of Social Policy, HSMC, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Citation:Nick Johns, Alison Green, Martin Powell, (2012) "Diversity in the British NHS: the business versus the “moral” case", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, Vol. 31 Iss: 8, pp.768 - 783
Keywords:Discrimination, Diversification, Employment legislation, Equal opportunities, Ethnic minorities, Health services, National Health Service, United Kingdom
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/02610151211277626 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the business case for ethnic diversity in the British National Health Service (NHS). It seeks to contextualise issues around diversity within the current political environment, and identify the barriers to diversity in the NHS. The business case has been very strongly argued as justification for introducing both managing diversity and equal opportunity initiatives – here the paper examines the inconsistencies of using that argument, and maintains that the only justification worth presenting is that based on (deontological) moral arguments.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper is conceptual in nature exploring the respective cases for diversity using a broad range of the available literature brought together as part of a rapid evidence assessment. It does so in order to make some far-reaching claims about the future justifications for active diversification of senior management in key public sector institutions.

Findings – The distinctions between the business and moral cases are false, in that both have ethical reference points. However, the business case is not only difficult to translate to public sector institutions; there are also evidential problems with its adoption. In light of this the conclusion here is that the moral (deontological) case is the only one that has any long term value for proponents of diversity.

Originality/value – The value of this paper is that it examines the confusion that surrounds different cases for advancing diversity as a policy aim and presents a clear delineation of them. It also draws out some of the – perhaps deliberate – blurring of the cases and underlines the huge problems with this all too common approach. Ultimately, it suggests that morality (deontological) arguments have most purchase in public sector organisations.

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