Racial Discrimination in Employment

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 - Disciplinary Procedure, economics, Employment, government jobs, HMRC, Immigration, Job Application, job search, politics, recruitment


Racial Discrimination in Employment

Big Ben + Houses Of Parliament

It is personally disapointing to return to the subject of Racial Discrimination in Employment, but unfortunately I think it is wholly appropriate.

“Civil servants send out bogus CVs”

Since the start of the year, in the middle of the worst economic crisis since 1929, the Department of Work and Pensions have created 2000 false people – half with British styled names, half with ethnic styled names – and sent out 1000 job applications (a minimum of 2 per job advertised, one British name and one ethnic name), to various employers and employment agencies. If employers responded to these job applications, the CV’s noted a mobile number which the employers called. A civil servant then returned the call to advise them of the exercise, and apologise for the inconvenience.

What was the driving reason behind this study? To see if employers discriminated against job applicants simply because of their name. The research is due to be published later this summer. Solicitor General Vera Baird revealed the initial findings: “there was quite a strong sense that there is race discrimination going on.” The output will be used by Ms Baird, who is presently piloting Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill through the Commons, confirmed that a no-names in job application rule could be added to the Bill: “It could theoretically help, particularly young women. It might help because we are sure there’s a lot of pregnancy discrimination.”

Gareth Elliott, of the British Chambers of Commerce, said it had strongly advised against the research because it was “unethical and a complete waste of time. We are completely shocked to hear the DWP has gone ahead. Businesses have enough on their plate without having to deal with the underhand tactics of the DWP.”

Theresa May, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, also criticised the operation as a “waste of taxpayers’ cash.” She backed moves to clamp down on discrimination but said the idea of banning bosses from initially requiring the names of job applicants was ‘unworkable’.

Implement the existing Law!

So, what are my thoughts? I have written on the issue of Racial Discrimination in Employment before, when BBCWest undertook a similar mini-study in our home town of Bristol. Then, Tom Hadley, of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said: “We would expect agencies within the REC membership to challenge that kind of discriminatory instruction and to walk away from the business if they had to – because that is how seriously we take this particular issue. It shows there’s still a lot of work we need to do. We will not tolerate this kind of discriminatory behaviour.”

While researching this article, I undertook a Google search on the term: “Civil servants send out bogus CVs.” Stormfront, the right wing political forum (moto: White Pride, World Wide), took 2 out of the first 10 results – no good!

Personally, I think its quite simple: EXISTING LAW NEEDS TO BE IMPLEMENTED. The existing law is good enough, so why not just implement it over adding to it

Does racism exist in employment? It exists in the UK, so yes it exists in employment, and the only way to stamp it out is to continue with such testing exercises from a Governmental level. Trading Standards undertake such exercises for goods being sold, so why not ask them to each undertake one study per annum? The problem is not within the existing law, it is just that I have yet to see one employer or recruitment agency make the front page – or even page10 – of any red top or tabloid, thanks to the fine imposed on them for racial discrimination in employment practise. Law not implemented is a waste of paper!

Let’s take the alternate position, and say that names were removed from job applications until interview stage. Firstly, do we think that the racism that exists now would instantly disappear, and suddenly the level of ethnic minority employment would rise? No, and in fact the problem would be that less evidence would exist – and hence less opportunity to prosecute racist employers. The only outcome would be that ethnic minorities would get more interviews, all things being equal.

If we take one comment form Ms Vera – “It might help because we are sure there’s a lot of pregnancy discrimination” – then I’d like to help her out, and say: YES, IT DOES EXIST! The reason pregnancy discrimination exists for already pregnant women job applicants, is that the moment I pick up the phone as an SME business to get Employers Liability insurance for a new pregnant employee is that the quote is equal to all that of our other employee’s added together! If the lady is already employed and then becomes pregnant, then she’s covered at same cost – its just if I employ an new employee who is already pregnant that the quote goes through the roof. The reason for this is simply, has Ms Vera seen the adverts for no-win, no-cost solicitors that run continually on SkyNews? If Ms Vera sorts out the insurance industry, and then the fact that under the new maternity laws said potential new employee could take 2years out, during which I still have keep their job open and pay them, then I think she might well find a solution which doesn’t mean pregnant women are discriminated against. I’d like to see a solution for pregnant women getting employed by SME’s, but the reality of the commercial structure doesn’t exist in the current Government frame work

Staying on the idea of “removing names from CV’s,” then there is one last problem of implementation brought on by technology. Every job coach, CV writer and personal brand expert is presently saying: If you want to get employed, keep your personal brand consistent. This means that people use the same words in their social media personal profile as their CV. So, accepting that the “no names in CV’s” law is implemented, and that CV scanning is on the increase, how long would it take a piece of technology to scan the words in the CV against every document on the internet? No need to worry about answering that, as CopyVio can do it in a minute or less. Hence although John Smith of Accasia Avenue may remove or even change his name at present, I can get around all of that by Googling him and some key phrases from his CV. At the moment this reveals that 50% of John Smith’s lie on their CV’s, 15% change their names, another 15% take drugs activly – which as an HGV recruiter means they would fail their DVLA medical, costing me £120. Having a name or not is presently not a bar to finding someone with modern technology

In summary, I think this is a great study which should be repeated in a sustainable way to ensure the existing law is correctly and properly implemented for the good of all British citizens. However, adding a no-name clause to a bill is costly, and wouldn’t in reality solve the problem – it would just add to the cost of recruitment, there by reducing job openings. Racism is wrong and should be wholly kicked out, but adding to the existing legislative pile is pointless unless you intend to implement and police it.

One last point: my next step – I intend to write something to my MP, Ms Vera and Harriet Harman, pleading for them to just implement the existing law. When I have written it, I will publish it here

Good Luck!

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2 Responses to “Racial Discrimination in Employment”

  1. Sarah Arrow Says:

    “It could theoretically help, particularly young women. It might help because we are sure there’s a lot of pregnancy discrimination.”

    Out of interest, how do you discriminate using a name against young women? What indicates a ‘young’ name over a name that a hippy mum gave their child? Moonflower could easily be a person in their late 40’s…

    The legislation is as usual ill thought out, and with DWP staff not utilising existing legislation, what makes anyone think they will use new laws?

    Please also remember, the law needs to be used both ways. Ethnic businesses need to be sent the two CVs and that be monitored and factored into the statistics.

  2. Jeffrey Says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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