Core Dimensions of Diversity

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The concept of core dimensions of diversity derives from the impact that assumptions about collective belongingness has had on certain categories or groups of persons, such as their acceptance and presumed abilities or rights to full participation in society. These core categories of social belongingness are

  • gender
  • age
  • ethnicity/ cultural origins
  • physical traits such as skin colour (racism)
  • religion/ world views
  • sexual orientation
  • physical abilities [1]

Persons identified as belonging to one of these categories may suffer devaluation, restrictions of opportunities and exclusion.

These categories of social belongingness have been identified by the European Union as core types of group membership that need special protection against discrimination. These are especially identified in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997)[2] and have resulted in the enactment of the Anti-discrimination Legislation (Allgemeinen Gleichbehandlungsgesetz / AGG) in Germany that has taken effect on the 14th of August 2006. (AGG, § 1 Objective of the Law)[3]

The above categories of group membership are given special attention in diversity training seminars as core dimensions of diversity. History illustrates repeatedly how these categorisations impact on self perceptions and perceptions others have of members of these groups. These factors often result in systematic processes of discrimination. Social class membership, regional origins, mother tongue are other examples of group belongingness that may cause prejudice and exclusion in certain social contexts. Membership in more than one of the above social categories may result in multiple forms of devaluation, discrimination and exclusion. (Intersectionality)

Gardenswartz/Rowe point out that Diversity is more than the 'Big 6'. Diversity in our identity accesses four layers (Organizational, External, Internal Dimensions and Personality) and intersects in our diverse living fields.

"While it is evident that there are a multitude of ways in which humans are both alike and unlike, all differences are not created equal- Some have profound effects on our opportunities and experiences, while others have relatively little impact. Powerful assumptions may be held about some aspects of diversity. Whereas others may evoke little reaction. However, the combined patterns of diversity dimensions form a filter through which we see the world as well as a screen through which others view each of us. Understanding the elements of that filter helps us avoid being victims of those factors. When we are aware of the many influences that have formed ours and others’ filters, and when we realize how these influences play out in our organizations, we can make active choices about our behaviour and reactions as well as our organization’s practices and policies." (Gardenswartz/Rowe: Managing Diversity 1998)

[edit] Sources

Gardenswartz/Rowe (1995): Four layers of Diversity (jpg)

Gardenswartz, Lee/Rowe, Anita: MANAGING DIVERSITY: A Complete Desk Reference & Planning Guide-Revised Edition-McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Loden, Marilyn (1996): Implementing diversity : dozens of practical tips for leading the change effort ; 12 classic mistakes most organizations make and how to avoid them. Boston, Mass. [u.a.] : Mc Graw-Hill.

[edit] See also

Definitions of Diversity

[edit] References

  1. Loden, Marylin (1996): Implementing Diversity. Boston, p.14.
  2. Text of the Amsterdam Treaty (pdf, en)
  3. Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, Fassung vom 17. August 2006. (pdf) (de)
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