Definition for equality and diversity

There is no one universal definition for equality and diversity, yet the two terms are used very frequently without the meaning being fully considered.

Plenty of literature exists that looks in detail at meanings and different contexts of equality and diversity but for the purposes of the Equal at Work project, our approach is outlined below.


  • Breaking down barriers
  • Eliminating discrimination
  • Ensure equal access and opportunities

Corporate responsibility to address equality issues

Equality is concerned with breaking down the barriers that currently block opportunities for certain groups of people, in society, the workplace, education and so on.

Equality policies aim to identify and minimise the barriers that exclude people and to take action to ensure equal access to all aspects of life and work for everyone.

Eliminating discrimination is important in achieving equality, since it is not just the physical environment or poor policies that prevents equality from being achieved but also ways of working, and attitudes and stereotypes about different groups of people.

Gender Equality, Definition(s) of

“A social order in which women and men share the same opportunities and the same constraints on full participation in both the economic and the domestic realm.”

Source: Bailyn, (2006). Breaking the mold: Redesigning work for productive and satisfying lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell.

What are Equality and Diversity ?


Equality is about creating a fairer society where everyone can participate and has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential.Equality is backed by legislation designed to address unfair discrimination based on membership of a particular group.A more detailed list is provided in our Strategy but some of the Acts you may be most familiar with are – Race Relations Act 1976, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Key Points:

  • Equality of outcome
  • Compliance with legislation
  • ‘Owned’ by experts
  • Risk management (of litigation)


Diversity is about recognising that everyone is different in a variety of visible and non-visible ways.It is about creating a culture and practices that recognise, respect and value difference.It is about harnessing this potential to create a productive environment in which the equally diverse needs of the customer/client can be met in a creative environment.It is about generating a workforce who feels valued/ respected and has their potential fully utilised in order to meet organisational goals.Diversity is not an ‘initiative’ or a ‘project’, it is an ongoingcore aim and a core process.

Read also  Should organisations conduct a Training Needs Analysis?

Key Points:

  • Recognising difference
  • Linking diversity to business goals
  • Diversity as ‘mainstream’ vision
  • Benefits of diversity are stressed

Source: Bailyn, (2006). Breaking the mold: Redesigning work for productive and satisfying lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell.


Concepts of Justice: distributive justice and procedural justice

Distributive justice refers to the perceived fairness of the amounts of compensation employees receive; procedural justice refers to the perceived fairness of the means used to determine those amounts (d. Folger, 1977). Research in legal and political contexts has suggested that procedural justice is more closely related to the evaluation of system or institutional characteristics, whereas distributive justice is more highly related to the evaluation of specific outcomes. For example, Tyler and ‘Caine (1981) found that perceived procedural justice accounted for unique variance in evaluations of government leaders and institutions beyond that contributed by distributive justice, whereas the converse was not true. Tyler (forthcoming) reported data in which procedural justice significantly predicted assessments of legitimacy and support for legal authorities, but distributive justice did not.

This would indicate the need to research how employees perceive the “fairness” of organizational systems and how this issue of fairness affects job satisfaction and intent to turnover. Adams (1965) has conceptualized fairness by stating that employees determine their perception of fairness in the workplace by comparing their inputs/outcomes ratio to those of their co-workers. This is called distributive justice, and it addresses employees’ concerns about the fairness of managerial decisions relative to the distribution of outcomes such as pay, promotions, etc. However, Cropanzano and Folger (1991) argue that there is another issue of fairness called procedural justice which focuses employees’ attention on “how” such decisions are made. The process for making organizational decisions is just as important to the employees as their perception of outcome fairness. The two types of justice have different effects on the perception of organizational fairness. Folger and Konovsky (1989) found that distributive justice has a much greater impact on pay satisfaction than procedural justice, while procedural justice tends to affect an employee’s organizational commitment and trust in his/her supervisor or boss.

Read also  Critically analyse the recruitment and selection strategy employed by SERCO DUBAI

Human Relations 1992; 45; 305

Robert C. Daileyl and Delaney J. Kirk

Dissatisfaction and Intent to Turnover Distributive and Procedural Justice as Antecedents of Job

(Daileyl & Kirk, 1992)

Research consistently finds that people care about fair treatment. When individuals perceive that they are treated fairly, they express greater satisfaction with social relationships (Barrett-Howard and Tyler 1986), courtroom experiences (Lind et al. 1980), and the political process (Tyler, Rasinski, and McGraw 1985). When researchers distinguish between procedural and distributive justice, they often find that procedural justice is more influential in predicting a variety of attitudes, including commitment (see Tyler et al. 1997).

Distributive justice refers to fairness in the distribution of a set of outcomes to a defined circle of recipients. In most distributive justice research, a central concern is reactions to pay injustices (Adams 1965; Walster, Walster, and Berscheid 1978). Typically, distributive justice exists when the expectations for outcomes (based on some normative rule) are congruent with the actual outcomes. In general, people expect outcomes to be commensurate with inputs (e.g., experience, ability and effort). In the social exchange approaches to distributive justice taken by Adams (1965) and Walster et al. (1978), individuals are assumed to seek distributive justice because they believe that distributive fairness will result in outcomes favorable to self. In addition, empirical work on choices of distribution rules demonstrates that impersonal actors prefer rules that benefit them materially or believe that a larger share to self is fair (Messick and Sentis 1979). In contrast, procedural justice refers to fairness in the means by which distributions or decisions are made (see Hegtvedt and Markovsky 1995). People generally consider means to be fair when those means allow consistency across individuals and time, suppression of bias, representativeness of the opinions of people affected, accuracy of information, mechanisms to correct bad decisions and conformity with moral and ethical standards (Leventhal, Karuza, and Fry 1980). Drawing from social exchange theory, Thibaut and Walker (1975) argued that individuals preferred fair procedures because they were more likely to result in fair outcomes. Thus the desire for procedural justice, like that for distributive justice, was believed to be motivated by the desire to maximize outcomes.

Read also  JKL Industries

More recent theory and research, however, indicates that concern with fair procedures stems from a desire to be well regarded within one’s group (Lind and Tyler 1988). Indeed, the desire for procedural justice exists even when outcomes are unaffected (Lind, Kanfer, and Early 1990). According to Lind and Tyler’s (1988) group-value model, people want to be valued members of their group, and they look to procedures to provide them with information about their position within the group. Insofar as authorities are trustworthy, respectful, and unbiased, workers perceive that they have been treated in a procedurally fair manner, which confirms their perception of themselves as valuable group members (Tyler and Lind 1992). Thus, procedural justice involves both the process of decision making and the treatment of members of the group. Although both procedural and distributive justice are important predictors of workplace attitudes (e.g., Martin and Bennett 1996; McFarlin and Sweeney 1992), research generally finds that procedural justice explains a greater proportion of the variance in organizational commitment (Folger and Konovsky 1989; Konovsky, Folger, and Cropanzano 1987; Martin and Bennett 1996; McFarlin and Sweeney 1992).1 In fact, some studies find that distributive justice is not related significantly to commitment when procedural justice is controlled (Martin and Bennett 1996). These findings are consistent with the group-value model’s assertion that individuals often value fair procedures over fair outcomes.

Lind and Tyler (1988) also suggest that procedural justice will not be uniformly important to all individuals. Few researchers, however, have considered that the effects of procedural and distributive justice on attitudes and behaviors may depend on differences across groups of people. Lind and Tyler state that people who feel strongly connected to their group derive a greater proportion of their self-esteem from group membership than do those who are weakly connected. Strongly connected persons seek procedurally fair treatment as a way to confirm their value in the group, thereby enhancing their self-esteem.

Procedural Justice, Distributive Justice: How Experiences with Downsizing Condition Their Impact on Organizational Commitment

Author(s): Jody Clay-Warner, Karen A. Hegtvedt, Paul Roman

Source: Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Mar., 2005), pp. 89-102

Published by: American Sociological Association

Stable URL:

(Clay-Warner et al, 2005: )

Order Now

Order Now

Type of Paper
Number of Pages
(275 words)