The concept of equal opportunities is riddled with problematic constructs. Policies aimed at achieving EO are, by the same token, deeply fraught and tend to be limited in their effectiveness. Rooted in ideologies about the nature of a ‘just society’, competing and at times contradictory underlying assumptions are rarely thoroughly questioned or examined by organisations committed to being ‘equal opportunities employers’. Added to this complexity is the tension in the relationship between EO principles and the workings of a laissez faire labour market. Some commentators argue that policies designed to achieve EO are an expensive luxury and at odds with the operation of an efficient economy. Others maintain that to have the distribution of positions within hierarchies (and indeed the structuring of organisations themselves) influenced by ascriptive (inherited) characteristics such as gender and race rather than by merit is economically inefficient and supremely wasteful of human resources. Moreover, it is argued, in the context of the global economy, it is precisely the efficient use of human resources which provides a competitive edge.