Intention is to judge individuals on merits, not according to class or race
6th December 2010: The Coalition by fully adopting and endorsing the Equality Act, promoted through Parliament by the previous Labour government, has paved way for the non-whites into the job sector, apparently.
The intention behind the move is to judge the individuals on their own merits, and not according to their class or race.
On 2 December 2010 the Government announced that it will bring into force section 159 of the Equality Act 2010 in April 2011. This will help employers achieve a more diverse workforce by giving them the option, when faced with candidates of equal merit, to choose a candidate from an under-represented group.
The others likely to benefit from the move include homosexuals and lesbians. The Coalition, had only recently announced that the law will proceed as planned. In fact, Equalities Minister and Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone had asserted that the law was about “making the workplace fairer.”
The new law, which permits the employers, including the state, to employ non-whites and others will come into force from April next year. Formal guidance will be published early next year.
The MP only recently made clear that the positive action in recruitment and promotion processes would be applied when faced with candidates of equal merit to address under-representation in the workforce.
The development is significant as discrimination against non-whites is not uncommon. In fact, Lee Jasper, former Policy Director for the Mayor of London and Race Adviser to previous Home Secretaries, had only recently asserted black people in the UK were facing an “unremitting wall of racism when seeking employment in the top professions,”.
Reacting to the report “Aspiration and Frustration” by Race for Opportunity which revealed that disturbing racism is still prevalent in the workplace, Jasper had accused the private sector of continuing to abuse the economic and human rights of black people in Britain unrestrained by the Government.
He had observed that because of the financial crisis, more than half of black community members are unemployed. Jasper criticized the previous Government’s approach to solving the problem of unemployment saying it preferred “to respond to private sector racism with ‘a light regulatory touch’ which amounted to an appeal for businesses to do the right thing.”
Such an approach, Jasper said, failed to avert the UK banking crisis and to deliver equality in the labour market. “We suffer a huge ethnic penalty pay gap as well as massive unemployment rates. It amounts to relegating Black British citizens to the status of third class citizens in a first world economy,” he said.
Race for Opportunity has “produced a report that will require the new Government to decide what if any action it will take to ensure that the current round of public sector cuts does not disproportionately impact black communities. I don’t hold out much hope and I fear that the already weak and impoverished community will not be able to withstand a three to five year period of increased unemployment,” Jasper said.
The Government also announced on 2 December that it will not implement the gender pay reporting measures in section 78 of the Act while it is working with business to encourage the publication of equality workforce data on a voluntary basis.