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From equal opportunities to diversity: a study of Afro-Caribbean career progression in the public sector

By Vivienne Connell-Hall


This thesis examines the extent to which equal opportunity legislation has enabled employment policies that aid the development, progression and promotion among public sector employees, specifically those of Afro Caribbean origin, employed during the period between 1988 and 2004.\ud As context, the first part of the thesis presents an historical background of the black presence in the UK and the hostility they experienced through racial discrimination. It considers how governments, politicians and social scientists viewed the social exclusion and disadvantage of ethnic minorities generally and their treatment in the labour market in particular. It also discusses relevant legislation, policies and practices that were developed to address racial discrimination.\ud Drawing on methodologies used in research of similar nature and reviewing literature and research studies, a methodology was chosen that was appropriate for the study and a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods is used. The quantitative data presented in Chapters 7-8 is derived from responses to a questionnaire survey, supplemented by more detailed qualitative responses derived from face to face interviews with employees from participating organisations. Other methods are used only to a very limited extent to supplement the data derived from the questionnaires and interviews. Chapter 9 contains data collected from a separate exercise of a shortened questionnaire on diversity only, consisting of staff from one government department and focus groups from two business streams.\ud The second part of the thesis presents the chosen methodology and analyses evidence collected between 1999 and 2004. Survey data, in depth one-to-one interviews and group interviews show that although progress has been made in combating racial discrimination, the policy of positive action is not a routine tool of organisational policy. An examination of employment practices and processes in the relevant organisations indicates that there exists a combination of organisational, group (subculture) and individual constraints on ethrýc minorities to rise to their full potential.\ud The theoretical view argues that there has been a retreat from progressive equal opportunity policies in employment and this owes much to the policies of the government of the day and organisational procedures. These assumptions have been borne out empirically

Topics: HT, HF
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