In the UK the trend seems to be a movement away from what can be considered the more limiting concept of 'equal opportunities' towards the more sophisticated and less prescriptive notion of 'diversity'..
- An equal opportunities approach is essentially about complience and making sure that minimum standards and good practice are in place.
- The core theme of a diversity approach is to recognise and appreciate the differences in the workforce and utilise those differences to achieve maximum outcome and profit.
Stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination:
- Stereotype - (fixed idea or popular misconception about a group/individual)
- Prejudice - (preconcieved view of someone, despite not knowing them)
Approaches to fair employment:
Partial or non-compliance -
- Suited to smaller firms
- Insufficient time and resources to implement all measures
- Found in many successful organisations
- Full set of equal opportunity policies are likely to have been developed
- Suited to larger organisations
- Tends to be systematic or culturally embedded
- Reflects on broad array of policies that go beyond the minimum requirements
Direct discrimination - (when an individual/group is treated less favourably than others)
Indirect discrimination - (if a requirement/condition, while applied equally, cannot be justified)
Genuine occupational qualification - (this is justified discrimination)
'Positive action' vs 'Positive discrimination' -
Positive action is allowed within the UK, which includes encouraging under represented groups in an organisation to apply for a job role.
Positive discrimination is not lawful in the UK. For example, it won't be fair if a black person is offered employment rather than a white applicant who is more experienced or better qualifiied, just because he or she is black (other than for GOQ).
The principle of this is that a man or women engaged in 'work of equal value', should recieve the same contractual pay or benefits. An objective job evaluation scheme is needed to defend against an equal pay claim, as this helps to justify any differences in terms of the relative value of the work.
The burden of proof -
If an employee files a complaint of discrimination, they need to prove that there is reason to believe that they have been discriminated against. The employer must then provide a 'written objective defence' against the claim, which means that the burden of proof is upon the employer, and they must then demonstrate that discrimination did not take place, using whatever documentation available.
What should be included in an equal opportunities policy? :
Equal opportunities policies should cover at least the following 3 areas..
- Statement of intent - (details the organisations aims and intent to promote equality)
- Identification of types of discrimination - (Identifies areas where discrimination is unacceptable)
- Specific reference to employment practices covered - (Firms may inform employees of their right to redress for unfair treatment through the grievance procedure etc)
Equality in employment