Is discrimination ever acceptable?

teeb

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I've been thinking a lot, partly due to this thread and partly due to a proposed bill in the UK.

At the moment, positive discrimination (or affirmative action) is unlawful in the UK and quotas/selective systems are not permitted. The bill seeks to change that by allowing firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minority job candidates. The argument for says that firms should be able to choose a woman over a man of equal ability if they wanted to - or vice versa. The bill will also force public sector employers to disclose the gender pay gap in their organisation. The plans, which will be adopted in England, Wales and Scotland, will also ban all age discrimination.

Before I get into this, a couple extra snippets. One, the bill will replace the 116 different pieces of equality legislation in force, including 35 acts, 52 statutory instruments, 13 codes of practice and 16 European Commission directives. This is obviously a good thing, reducing confusion and making things simpler.

Two, there is still a 'gender gap' in the UK. Official figures show that the gap has been declining, but for every pound a man earns, a woman still earns just 87 pence. Female part-time workers also still earn as much as 40% less than their full-time male counterparts. Whilst there's an argument for part-time workers earning less than full-timers, there's no excuse for women earning less than men (when everything except gender is equal), and something should be done.

Three, it'd make age discrimination illegal. Which is nice.

The question is, should discrimination ever be acceptable? Whilst the bill is designed to help minorities, it does so (presumably) at the expense of the white lower class male, who is currently one of the groups least likely to go to university or further education.

The bill has interesting phrasing. It says that if there are two equally-qualified candidates, then you can discriminate positively by hiring one in a minority to improve the 'mix' of people in your organisation. So if you were a mostly-male bank you could hire a woman, if you were a mostly-white lawyer office you could hire a minority, or if you were a school with mostly-female teachers you could hire a man (to give three examples).

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to know I got a job simply because I was in a minority of some kind. That wouldn't make me happy in the slightest.

Then there's another factor. What are the odds of having two equally-qualified candidates? It's definitely possible to have two candidates with the same degree from a university, for example, but the odds of having two candidates with identical degrees, work experiences, track records and so on are very small. Furthermore, with job interviews and the like it's unlikely that two candidates will be exactly equal. Yes, it could be a hard choice between two, but exactly equal? There was a BBC programme a bit back and one audience member said that he'd hired personally more than 200 people and he'd never found two exactly-identically-experienced-and-qualified candidates.



Just to contradict myself some more, I know fine well that some groups are at a disadvantage in a job-application situation, and that something should probably be done about that. I just don't know if this bill is the solution. I don't have any alternatives, though.

Basically I'm divided on this issue, and I'm not sure where I stand. I'd like to hear your opinions, though.
 
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Twerp128

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positive discrimination (or affirmative action)
It's not positive it's reverse discrimination plain and simple.

Female part-time workers also still earn as much as 40% less than their full-time male counterparts.
No shit, as a part-time employee I earn about 40% less then my male and female full-time counterparts.

Three, it'd make age discrimination illegal. Which is nice.
Some old people just can't cut the mustard physically, this just puts more work load and stress on everyone else.


The bill has interesting phrasing. It says that if there are two equally-qualified candidates, then you can discriminate positively by hiring one in a minority to improve the 'mix' of people in your organisation. So if you were a mostly-male bank you could hire a woman, if you were a mostly-white lawyer office you could hire a minority, or if you were a school with mostly-female teachers you could hire a man (to give three examples).
Governments need to accept some careers just attract certain sexes. Not many guys want to work as nurses, and not many woman desire to have a job with the railroad. Companies shouldn't feel forced to hire someone based on sex or race or age. It should be performance based, good workers get the good jobs and good promotions, that is how it should be.

Basically all this bill does is acknowledge differences between genders and races. It implies we are not created equal.
 
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Hercules286

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Basically all this bill does is acknowledge differences between genders and races. It implies we are not created equal.

We aren't, and contrary to popular opinion, no ammount of legislation can change that.
 

Peter3hg

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There are already limited circumstances where you can discriminate. These are called GORs (Genuine Occupational Requirements). However these are very limited such as only allowing one religion to work in a religious school or only wanting Indians working in an Indian Restaurant.
 

TC

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I think the word "discrimination" is used way too freely. If you get turned down for a job, it must be discrimination. Heh.

They can't hire the best people for the job anymore. That's sad.
 

Top Geek

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Discrimination either way is wrong and so-called "affirmative action" is BS. You hire the person who most accurately fulfills the job description. Period.
 
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