We live in a more diverse society than ever before. Structural changes in labour markets have led to increasing numbers of women, older workers and disabled people in employment, with fewer younger people in many industrialised economies. Globalisation and migration has also lead to greater ethnic diversity. We are also clear about the business for diverse workforces, and the benefits this can bring to society.
However, there is a question as to whether a diverse workforce always equals inclusion. There is evidence that many of these groups are marginalised and face employment disadvantages in practice. The aim of this module is to illuminate some of the inequalities experienced by these groups, and then to examine theoretical perspectives helping explain these and provide insights into how these can be better remedied in practice.
Whilst arguably the principles of inclusion transcend the protected characteristics (Equality Act, 2010), it is clear that these groups tend to suffer more inequalities in the workplace than others (despite law that protects against this). This module will therefore look at the meaning of inclusion and how it differs from concepts of equality and diversity – what it adds and where it might be lacking. We will examine closely the different dimensions of diversity (gender, age, race/ethnicity and so forth) in order to understand the specific barriers these groups experience, and what methods organisations can develop to ensure more inclusive workplaces – so that everyone feels valued regardless of identity or background.
A broader aim of the module is to provide students with an opportunity to ‘step into the shoes’ of diverse marginalised groups and the specific barriers they face, so they are better prepared to identify and promote inclusive workplaces, as social justice champions of our future. This is something our society needs and London Metropolitan University is passionate about developing – values driven graduates who make a positive contribution to the world (see Strategic Plan).
There is one summative assessment for this module. This will take the form of an individual workbook (2500 words) containing weekly exercises for completion by students, and will be based on the issues discussed in lectures and seminars. Taking this approach will ensure all of the learning outcomes are assessed, since students will be tested on their knowledge from each week in ‘bitesize’ chunks. This is important given the breadth of issues covered in this module, and the ambition for students to develop an awareness of the wide ranging barriers to inclusion in workplaces.
There will be a range of weekly exercise formats including some that are traditional and expect students to engage in research based evidence to put forward their argument; others that are more practical in nature (e.g. critiquing a job advertisement in terms of inclusive language) and finally there will be some opportunity for reflection too (e.g. what students have learnt about a particular issue that has surprised them, or they will help them in their future careers as potential managers and employers). It may also include a final action plan to combine their final reflections on the module, and to think critically about how they might apply their knowledge in the workplace.
Given that weekly exercises correspond to activities conducted in the classroom, students will be receiving formative feedback as they go along (seminar sessions) and therefore attendance is of utmost importance. Seminar leaders will offer support for academic writing and referencing during the module.