Even though there is hard proof of the benefits of diversity and equality in the workplace, there are still cases of discrimination against people of different sex, orientation, religion, beliefs, culture and marital status on behalf of the employers.
According to Kathy Handels and Linda Macdonald (2005) " Diversity within organizations is about recognizing this range of differences in people and valuing people as individuals, respecting their differences and their different needs. It is also about accommodating differences wherever possible so that an individual can play a full part in the working environment."
According to the Labor force Survey (2004 UK) the breakdown of the employment by ethnic groups showed that the employment level for certain ethnic groups is very low. This is mainly because some ethnic groups, such as Pakistani, Black African and Chinese are traditionally considered to work in lower employment levels and specifically in manufacturing, transport and communications sector. Another reason behind this fact is the perceived level of education for these particular groups. Still researches have shown that Chinese, African and Asians are the most well educated groups, so it only has to do what people expect of these groups to be and not what they really are and can do.
According to an article published by The Guardian dated 9 November 2003, 32% people that participated in a survey have experienced discrimination in their working environment.
Employers tend to believe that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and African Caribbean are not so skilled and have less experiences and lower education than other ethnic groups. This results to the fact that the specific ethnic groups have difficulties finding a job and the jobs they have a chance to have are those of low income. Health problems are also an issue since some groups are more likely to report health issues and as a result it is harder for them to find a job.
Another reason that explains the results of the table above is that nationality groups seem to concentrate in specific geographical areas, with high unemployment rates and fewer childcare places. These results to higher unemployment rate for these groups since there are not so many jobs available and one member of the family takes care of the children so the family income is less then if for example both parents could work.
Still the main reason of low family income for certain ethnic groups is racial discrimination. Employers tend to offer people from minority ethnic groups jobs of very low income. White people have double chance to have an interview compared to African - Caribbean and Asian origin.
There are a lot of grounds for discrimination and race is one of them. Race discrimination means that a person receives unfavorable treatment because of color, race, nationality ethinic origins or national origins. The Race Relations Act, RRA, 1976 protects everyone equally regardless their racial origin not only for unfair treatment in the workplace but also as individuals.
In order to comply with the European Union Race Directive the act was amended in July 2003. The UK RRA (Race Relations Act) of 1976 covered more grounds of discrimination the EU Race Directive only required protection on grounds of race and ethnic and national origins. The UK government however has decided to implement the EU Directive more as a Regulation and not as primary legislation.
Still we have to acknowledge that the implementation of practices that allow diversity in the workplace is not an easy task. Taylor (2002) reports that the management of more diverse workforce demands changes on behalf of the government, employers, employees and trade unions as well. Not all people recognize the need to create a welcoming and fostering environment for employees, with respect to there individual needs and differences.
The phenomenon of globalization has brought people closer. Every person is different and even more in the case of race, cultural and religious differences. Even though there is care and legislative protection against race discrimination in the work place, there is still a long way to go. There are many organizations that use stereotypes in their recruitment and selection procedures that lead to discrimination.
Fortunately there are examples of companies and business that recognize the benefits of diversion within the workforce, yet not all think the same way. It takes everyone's encouragement, government, unions, employees and employers, in order to embrace the changes necessary for an equal working environment for everyone.
- Kathy Handels and Linda Macdonald: Equality, Diversity and Discrimination in the Workplace (2005), page 1.
- "The Guardian" dated 9 November 2003
- Labor force Survey 2004 www.cre.gov.uk (CRE: Commission for Racial Equality)
- Labor force Survey 2003 www.cre.gov.uk (CRE: Commission for Racial Equality)
- Taylor, R. (2002) Diversity in Britain's Labor Market . Swidon: Economic and Social Research Counsil