OECD Report: All Hands In? Making Diversity Work for All

This report has some very useful comparative charts that I will draw from in the future. This takeaway is a useful reminder of the differences between and among groups:

Existing frameworks must better differentiate the needs of diverse groups

Despite the variety of instruments in place, whether diversity policies actually work in practice and why is still under-researched. This is partly due to few countries evaluating or monitoring the impact of existing policies. Yet, understanding “what works” for which groups and why is crucial. Evidence suggests that existing diversity measures often disregard the considerable heterogeneity both between and within groups and consequently have unequal effects on diverse populations. For example, evidence shows that affirmative action programmes in the United States have benefitted white women more than ethnic minorities. Quota regulations, which have proven effective in getting more women in corporate boards, can be counterproductive when applied to other groups, such as people with disabilities. Such findings demonstrate that there are group-specific barriers, which cannot be addressed through “one-size-fits-all” diversity policies.

Crucially, most existing diversity policies tend to neglect socio-economic disadvantage. Studies on access to higher education suggest that diversity policies primarily benefit the most privileged within an ethnic minority group, e.g. those from families with relatively high incomes or high levels of education. While the principle of equal opportunities should apply to people of any socio-economic background and status, policies fail to help the most disadvantaged within minority groups will not end injustice. Finally, policy makers have to face the danger that disadvantaged individuals who do not happen to fall into the category of any particular “diverse group” may feel left out and discriminated against. Diversity policies, therefore, can only be one part of a broader package of policies to promote equal opportunities among all members of society.

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Note: The chart compares differences in employment rates of men and women; native-born and foreign-born; and prime-age (25-54) and older workers (55-64). Disability status is defined as self-perceived, long-standing activity limitations. Employment gaps and perceived attitudes are shown as colour-coded percentiles. Evolution over 10 years (2008 and 2018 for attitudes; 2006/07 and 2016/17 for labour market gaps): “red”: more than a 2 percentage points change to the favour of diverse groups, “yellow” between a +2 percentage points change and a -2 percentage points change, “red“: more than a 2 percentage points change to the detriment of diverse groups (regardless of statistical significance). The evolution refers to differences vis-à-vis the respective comparison group and not absolute values. “Grey”: data are not available.

Source: OECD Gender Portal; OECD/EU Settling In: Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2018; OECD Employment Outlook 2018; OECD Connecting People with Jobs 2014; World Gallup Poll.

Source: https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/all-hands-in-making-diversity-work-for-all_efb14583-en

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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