Discrimination and Diversity
‘Labour services are delivered in different bodies – male/female, young/old, black/white – but the only consideration for the HR recruiter should be the ability of the potential worker to perform the required job.’ Is this a hopelessly ideal view of recruitment? Discuss in relationship to any form of discrimination. 1. Please note that assignments must be fully referenced and contain a full bibliography.
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Discrimination and Diversity
Focusing on Ability
‘Labor services are delivered in different bodies – male/female, young/old, black/white – but the only consideration for the HR recruiter should be the ability of the potential worker to perform the required job.
Continuous variations exist among different people/groups of people. The labor market, therefore, is composed of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and with varying specific personal characteristics such as age, sex, gender, race, nationality, and physical/mental state. These groups of people tend to have different talents and capabilities which suit different contexts of different firms/organizations. Employers therefore search into this labor market to fish out potential employees who contain specific requirements, qualifications, and competencies needed to handle given job positions. The criteria that an employer decides to implement in selecting a pool of potential employees from the wider labor market is of critical concern in this modern era. This is because, the continuous variations that exist among different people and/or groups of people around the world form the basis of discrimination in recruitment. Therefore, discrimination and diversity go hand in hand. While selecting potential recruits for a given job position, an employer should focus solely on their abilities rather than their personal characteristics unless the personal characteristics pose a threat to the employee successfully performing their duties (Atkinson, J. 1984, p. 145). There are a number of reasons why quality recruiters in the 21st century should focus more on ability only while performing recruitment and selection processes. It is not a hopelessly ideal view on recruitment but a standard with positive implications to organizations in the 21st century.
Focusing on Ability Is not a hopelessly ideal view of recruitment.
First, recruitment and selection that focuses absolutely on ability significantly reduces the possibility of recruiters hiring unsuitable employees. Unsuitable employees are, in most cases, hired as a result of favoritism or unequal dissemination of employment opportunities to all groups of people regardless of their characteristics. They are a menace to the performance of any organization. Also, wherever favoritism has been practiced, someone else who is much more suitable to handle that given position has been denied a chance. When recruiters follow the standard process of quality recruitment and selection, all biases are eliminated hence getting rid of discrimination to some extent (Blyton, M. and Noon, P. 2003, p. 234). Discrimination in its general sense implies the act of favoring or rejecting individuals based on specific personal characteristics such as nature, age, sex, race, nationality, religion etc. In the labor market, discrimination is a much more common phenomenon which, to some extent, cannot be tamed completely. In the labor market, discrimination occurs when individuals or groups of people are denied or favored during a job interview due to their personal characteristics (Blyton, M. and Noon, P. , 2003). Discrimination in the labor market is a global concern as it not only denies individuals their rightful chances but also causes organizations to lag behind in terms of performance due to failure to follow clearly defined and non-discriminatory procedures during recruitment and selection.
The labor market is a non-discriminatory platform where workers are given their due reward based on what they contribute towards their firms’/organization’s performance. Discrimination is only in the perspective of those who have little or no contribution as they are affected when it comes to selection of suitable employees. Unfortunately, a majority of people who fall in this category are either minorities, women, the aged, or the disabled people. They might not have the necessary skills, qualifications, and requirements to compete favorably in the labor market hence they are eliminated from the labor market. In as much as this can be seen as discrimination, it is not purposely perpetuated by employers but rather it is an equilibrium at which the labor market offers its best to firms and organizations. According to the human capital theory, discrimination only occurs in the market where the eliminated individuals cannot, whether willingly or unwillingly, be able to deliver quality (Beardwell, J. and Thompson, A. 2014, p. 123).
Companies are profit oriented and hence will tend to seek for those individuals who have the right skills and qualifications to handle certain positions. Hiring of individuals through affirmative action, for instance, will create a loophole in terms of quality delivery in the organization hence bringing a significant loss to the respective firm or organization. In the United States, for instance, approximately 47% of blacks aged between 18 and 24 years are unemployed as compared to only 20% of their white counterparts. This does not necessarily imply that employers in the United States discriminate against the blacks when hiring new employees (Dickens, L. 2003, p. 129). However, it points towards a much bigger issue. Most whites are currently educated, skilled, and competent for a majority of job positions as compared to blacks. According to the human capital theory, the blacks are eliminated from the labor market due to their incompetency and low literacy levels.
Even though diversity forms the basis for discrimination, organizations should shift their perspective on diversity. The variations that exist among various groups of people implies that there is plenty of talents, abilities, and unique levels of competencies that exist among the different groups of people. When organizations focus on ability rather than characteristics which have no suitability to the specific roles that an employee will handle, they expose themselves to an unlimited pool of talents and abilities from the different groups and types of people. Offering equal opportunities to all groups of people increases an organization’s chances of hiring competent employees. The equal opportunities act calls for all organizations to offer equal opportunities to all groups of people (the minorities, lame, women, etc.).
Apart from getting a person with the right skills to handle a given job position, another necessity that pushes organizations to hire new employees is to bring new and fresh ideas/talent into the organization thus improving on the quality of their organizational knowledge and culture. It is true that a lame person cannot perform some specific duties such as operating heavy machines. However, that same lame person has unique idea that can transform an organization for the better. Diversity in terms of talent is one of the factors that determine an organization’s success. The famous International Business Machines (IBM) has diversified its workforce to the extent of including a large variety of races, minority groups, and as well as some physically handicapped people (Dickens, L. 2003, p. 26). This does not imply that the company acquired these people through affirmative action. Instead, they were hired purely on merit and qualified to handle the roles they currently handle. Diversity in workforce is one of the factors that have made IBM to excel globally in production of business machines.
Traditionally, the labor market was discriminatory in terms of gender, race, age, disability, and religion. Even though this vice is not common in developed countries like the US and the United Kingdom, it is still observable in some developing countries. Also, social prejudices have been on the forefront in perpetuating discrimination in the labor market. In developing countries, discrimination in terms of gender and religion is the leading form of discrimination—. This kind of prejudice affects even the hiring agents and recruiters as it is deeply ingrained in the fabric of their mindsets. Some job positions, especially in developing countries, are considered to be feminine or masculine roles. Some cultures forbid certain roles on gender or religious basis thus limiting the pool of employees that an organization can attract to handle those roles.
In Muslim countries, for instance, Muslim women are not required to perform duties which expose their ‘precious’ body parts such as operating machines. Generally, Muslims have a relatively low rate of employment as compared to other religions. The percentage of Muslim men and women currently in employment is 47% and 24% respectively. The aged are discriminated against in recruitment and selection processes. Currently, most recruiters focus on generation Y (Millennials) as their potential employees in the future. In as much as it is a good strategy for the future excellence of a company, it should also consider older people. Shifting the negative perspective about older people fitting in the 21st century pool of employment can be achieved through focusing on their ability. Are they able to perform? If Yes, why should an employer deny them a chance? Some cultures especially those of African origin tend to look at women as inferior creatures as compared to men hence priority in all opportunities begins with the male child. This includes employment opportunities. However, a recent survey by (EHRC 2010, p. 98) shows that women generally outshine men in educational qualifications. Focusing on ability rather than any of these personal characteristics and cultures/religions assists companies to fish out hidden talent from among the rejected groups. Companies seeking new recruits can only achieve this through offering of equal opportunities to all people. The study that indicates that women outshine men in academic performance and qualifications implies that there is hidden talent in the so-called minorities, and sidelined groups of people due to societal prejudices and other biases.
Lastly, focusing on ability builds the reputation of a company and encourages more talented people to apply to its various job positions. Whenever prospective employees apply for a given job position, they always have positive expectations of their applications being positively considered. This hope is built further with organizations which hire employees purely on merit and competency. This indicates a fair competition. It is contrary to an organization in which hiring employees is discriminatory. Only potential employees from known sources are contacted whereas a wider pool of potential recruitment candidates from which possible employees can be selected is rejected. Such companies risk attracting a very limited number of recruits and hence a narrow talent gap. Furthermore, such companies risk being sued by potential employees whom it rejected on discriminatory basis. Apart from building reputation with potential employees, the company also builds a good reputation in the general society (Beardwell, J. and Thompson, A. 2014, p. 123). If the company in question is profit oriented, it can attract a large number of customers through a better reputation constructed through its standard recruitment and selection process.
Limitations of focusing on ability
Focusing on the ability of a person to handle a given job can also be considered to be discrimination in itself especially if the nature of the job requires potential candidates to have specific characteristics and qualifications. Nearly 70% of jobs have minimum qualifications as well as required characteristics which are likely to aid the potential employee while performing their tasks (Arnold, J. 2010, p. 90). Recruitment into military service, for instance, cannot take in lame people, a teaching post in Islamic school cannot consider applicants from other religions, and some jobs are naturally preserved for specific gender. Discrimination is an inevitable aspect of modern life and requires collective responsibility for it to be eliminated to some level as it is profoundly embedded in the modern society.
In as much as focusing on ability as its own limitations as discussed in this article, it is of general good to an organization to follow due and standard process of recruitment and selection which non-discriminatory unless in unavoidable instances.
Diversity is the basis of discrimination perpetuated by most organizations and firms globally. People are discriminated on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, marital, status etc. Since discrimination is purely an inhuman practice, this article agrees with the opinion that HR recruiters should only consider the ability of a person to handle a given job position rather than other factors that display their strengths or weaknesses that are not related in any way to the job to be handled. There are a variety of factors that compelled the researcher to agree with this opinion. First, focusing on ability assists organizations to attract only the most suitable employees to handle given roles. This improves the general performance of organizations. Also, offering equal opportunities to various groups of people makes an organization to have a diversified workforce which is advantageous in terms of providing a large pool of talents as well as introduction of new ideas to the organization. Focus on ability helps to eliminate or reduce biases that perpetuate discrimination in the society such as religious biases and cultural biases. Lastly, it makes companies that embrace it to develop a good reputation which becomes necessary in attraction of a top-quality pool of recruits as well as customers for its products and/or services. Challenges posed to this model include the low employment chances created for the minority groups. However, this is a perceived challenge since organizations have employment chances which discriminated people can perfectly handle. Also, the number of minorities in the labor market is as proportional to the available job positions as the number of majority groups is proportional to the available positions. Therefore, focusing on ability is a better approach that all organizations must embrace not only for their own excellence but also betterment of society.
Arnold, J. , 2010. Work Psychology: Understanding Human Behaviour in the Workplace, Harlow. 3rd ed. s.l.:Prentice Hall/Financial Times.
Atkinson, J. 1984, p. 145, n.d. Flexibility, Uncertainty and Manpower Management, IMS Report. Brighton: Institute of Manpower Studies..
Beardwell, J. and Thompson, A., 2014. Human Resource Management: A Contemporary Approach. 7th ed. London.: Pearson.
Blyton, M. and Noon, P. , 2003. The Realities of Work, Basingstoke. 2nd. ed. s.l.:Macmillan..
Dickens, L. , 2003. Human Resource Management and Gender Equality’, in J. Kelly (ed.) Industrial Relations: Critical Perspectives in Business and Management. 1st ed. London: Routledge.
EHRC, 2010. How Fair is Britain? First Triennial Review: Executive Summary, London.: Equality and Human Rights Commission.