Equality and diversity are distinct terms though they are used interchangeably. Equality refers to equal opportunity for all so that fairer society can be created. Equality aims to eliminate prejudice and discrimination so that in the context of health care, services can be rendered without discrimination in a diverse society. In a healthcare setting, it means to make the service provider more accountable to service takers (patients) and avoid discrimination at workplace. Diversity which means difference, refers to respecting the differences in individuals and groups of individuals. It is very relevant when dealing with workforce. Equality and diversity are important in the context of human rights which require employment practices to be attuned to the recognition of human rights. This study of equality and diversity in the UAE health care services gains significance because of the nursing force coming from India, Philippines and Bangladesh.
Application of concepts
Job satisfaction among nurses in the Ministry of Health (MOH), UAE is one of the indicators of satisfactory or otherwise state of affairs influenced by cultural factors. A study of job satisfaction among nurses employed in the MOH hospitals shows that nurses were dissatisfied in terms of “professional” and “maintenance” factors which accounted 85.2% of the total variance. They were neutral i.e neither satisfied nor dissatisfied in terms of “approval” and “scheduling”. The study concludes that job satisfaction is positively related to various factors such as length of experience in the hospital they work, work unit, shift, distance between place of work and residence, family finance and others.
Another study of cultural diversity in the multicultural nursing impacting the quality of treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital concludes that multicultural background of the nursing workforce is inherently risky due to conflicts arising out of diverse cultural norms, beliefs, conduct and languages .
The case study presented says that nurses coming to UAE for work do so because of multicultural diversity and local culture that is unique as reported by McKenzie. According to her, diversity is characterized by diverse ways of thinking and conduct of individuals at the workplace. Thus, it promotes the expectations of human rights, equality and recognition of equity in the workplace. As already mentioned the workplace Tawam, a health care facility where the McKenzie’s study took place, 80 % of nurses are either from non-English speaking countries or countries where English is a second language. At Tawam 38 % of nursing staff (minority) are Arabs. This scenario would suggest potential communication problems in the workplace.
Diversity in UAE.
Differentiation diversity in UAE
UAE‘s diversity definition is narrower in that foreign workforce forms the majority as against their being a minority in any other foreign country especially a western country. The nurses knowing only English do pose as an inherent job hazard to the majority service takers. Native Arab nurses are also minority in the U.A.E.
How language becomes a barrier.
The majority of nursing workforce in the UAE are non Arab speaking but they have to work with minority native Arab nurses and majority native Arab patients. Unlike in a western country where English speaking foreign nurses can thrive better, they cannot perform equally well in the UAE because of lack of knowledge of local language.
How to improve impact of diversity on nursing practice.
Just as the expatriate workforce learning local customs in any other foreign country, nursing staff coming to the UAE should also be made to get acquainted with local customs and beliefs.
The foreign nursing staff in the UAE should be treated with equality in the workplace without giving rise to human rights issues to rear their head.
The UAE work culture is reported to be unique in that the educated populations try to mimic western culture. This trend is a blessing for the foreign workforce and should be taken advantage of. In this context, there is minimal pressure to conform to the local customs and beliefs and commercial globalization is truly operational.
The UAE is known for its belief in traditional values but the women workforce are not treated on par with the standards prevailing in western countries as regards their right to maternity leave, miscarriage leave, breastfeeding hours, and paternity leave. This is an equality issue and should be addressed within the context of human rights .
The multicultural diversity of workforce in the UAE makes it a unique diversity issue distinct from western countries where foreign workforce are employed. Where as in the western countries foreign nursing workforce are a minority, in the UAE reverse is the case. Hence, diversity and equality issues are unique in the UAE. This would show that there is no “one size fits all” as regards equality and diversity issues are concerned.
AdelFaza, A. (2012). A case study examination of the influence of cultural diversity in the multicultural nursing workforce on the quality of care and patient safety in a Saudi Arabian hospital. Brisbane : Queensland University of Technoolgy .
BilalAbbas, E.-S. (2012). Job Satisfaction among Registered Nurses Working in UAE Ministry of Health Hospitals: Demographic Correlates. The British University in Dubai .
Hills, R. C., & Atkins, P. W. (2013). Cultural identity and convergence on western attitudes and beliefs in the United Arab Emirates . International Journal of Cross Cultural Management .
Sadek, I., & Al Mulla, M. H. (2012). United Arab Emirates: Maternity And Paternity Rights In The UAE Private Sector. Mondaq.com .