Affirmative action or managing diversity: what is the future of equal opportunity policies in organisations?

Glenda Strachan, John Burgess, Anne Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Equal employment opportunity policies were introduced in Australia in the 1980s in response to women's disadvantaged workforce position. Australia's unique form of affirmative action was underpinned by legislation, and aimed to promote gender equity in the workplace via employer action. Throughout the 1990s there has been a policy shift away from collectivism towards individualism, and away from externally driven social programmes at the workplace towards managerialist driven social programmes. The main process for implementing progressive and inclusive equity programmes at the workplace is through human resource management policies that link employment diversity to organisational objectives (for example, productivity and profitability). Programmes titled “Managing diversity” have been introduced into some organisations, and today there are a variety of approaches towards equity policies in Australian organisations. The article proposes that a distinctive Australian version of managing diversity will develop in some organisations based on the prior national legislative framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-204
Number of pages9
JournalWomen in Management Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Affirmative action
  • Australia
  • Equal opportunities
  • Family life
  • Women workers


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