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These new methods of exploiting diversity have revealed certain limitations and constraints to this approach: • anxieties relating to social cohesion, national identity and the values of a shared culture; • a rise in xenophobic attitudes in some countries; • an increase in identity-based demands; • a return to forms of religious communitarianism; • exacerbation of views concerning incompatibility of values; • persistence of racist attitudes and ethnic discrimination.
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What is the impact of diversity on public institutions?
To make headway with the process of including diversity, work remains to be done in the following fields:
• identifying the added value specific to each element of diversity; • integrating diversity at management level; • justifying consideration of diversity on grounds other than legal or economic; • making integration of diversity more inclusive; • finding ways of learning from diversity.
Diversity has a direct impact on the institutional culture that has to accommodate it. • Diversity broadens the range of needs. Public institutions have to respond to a greater diversity of needs associated with users with a range of characteristics. • It increases the possibilities of intercultural tensions. In some organisations, professionals encounter on a daily basis situations requiring skills for interacting with complex ethnocultural differences.
One of the principles of the common agenda for integration of third-country nationals in the European Union is: “Developing clear goals, indicators and evaluation mechanisms is necessary to adjust policy, evaluate progress on integration and to make the exchange of information more effective.” (Com (2005) 389 final)
• Institutional rules do not always perform their role of promoting inclusion. Yet it is the remit of public and semi-public institutions to deliver services that are accessible, of high quality and appropriate. • Institutional capacities to foster inclusion are sometimes challenged. The need to accommodate diversity becomes so acute that institutions can no longer cope with the mass of “one-off” requests.
What responsibility do public institutions have for taking diversity into account?
It is the remit of public institutions to deliver services that are accessible, of high quality and equal for all. Apart from the social implications of integration, adaptation of services is also a matter of fairness and equal rights. Institutions have a social responsibility and legal obligation to adapt their norms, make their rules more flexible and offer differentiated practices. In practice, responsibility for adapting services is sometimes too dependent on the willingness and activeness of the staff concerned. Such responsibility may be delegated to special bodies, committees of diversity experts, or intercultural consultants. In other cases, individual departments implement isolated diversity acknowledgement initiatives without any real organisation-wide co-ordination effort.
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Pluricultural realities and institutional responsibilities