28 April 2009

Equality's back, baby

Don't you just love Harriet's pic on the BBC? Really flattering, not surprising from a pro-Labour broadcaster, eh?

But anyway, the Equalities bill is back - I have no idea when the actual vote is, nobody seems to mention that - the ideas just keep popping up when somebody feels it's a 'fresh' news story

It seems a little feebler this time round, targeting certain health services at deprived areas as part of a 'social economic duty' sounds like pure waffle to me

While the most well-known positive discrimination plans have been watered down slightly, in the Mail she says:

'If you have got two equally qualified candidates, you might actually want to have the woman because she is a woman.

'Now at the moment, if you choose her because she is a woman, you could face a sex discrimination case.

'So this says to employers, if you want to, and want to be able to diversify your workforce, then actually you can choose, if you have got equally-qualified candidates, you can choose the one from the group that is under-represented.'

Positive discrimination, where a lesser-qualified candidate is awarded a job just because he or she is from a minority, will remain illegal.

That sounds like positive discrimination, but with an 'equally-qualified' clause in to appease meritocrats like me - well it doesn't

This effectively is 'positive' discrimination - although you are not obliged to simply pick the simpleton in the corner because she is the only person with ovaries who entered the interview process, you still get the opportunity to 'balance' your workforce without recourse

Sounds OK doesn't it? Well not really, it's just discrimination coated with a layer of pleasantness - let's create an example:

you currently have a workforce of 10 - nine are men, one of whom needs replacing (let's say he's on paternity leave) - you advertise the position and there are several qualified candidates out of a field of 20, however only one woman applied - she is now virtually guaranteed the job, the equally-qualified men (who should have a massive statistical advantage) are left out on the basis of their sex

Now fortunately this is optional, the law as far as I understand means you can behave this way without breaking employment law, you don't have to - but this law pretty clearly benefits women (although the reverse situation is also allowed, we all know what this is targeting) - as a male you now face an extra potential barrier to employment

Fancy turning up to an interview, performing really well and then being told 'we need to balance our workforce, so kindly f*** off' - obviously this is based on the assumption that the employer is using the law but just because it is optional doesn't make it fair - if anything I would force any employer using this law to publish their intent on the job ad, which would, ironically, be a step further into positive discrimination

Balancing workforces is all well and good but the proponents of this fail to notice the plight of the male job-hunter in this - come up against just one woman and you're scuppered - how depressing is that?

This is the fundamental problem at the root of almost all 'equal outcome' law - they treat the majority (usually white and male) as a 'community' - we are all treated as one homogeneous group - of course I am no nearer to being a millionaire head of a failed bank than the next woman/ethnic minority/homosexual and yet I am penalised for unfortunately sharing the same genitalia as said banker

If there was a massive problem in society - such as back in Weimar Germany where women were forced to take less pay, and men were given precedence, then I could support laws that promote equality (such as the Equal Pay Act) - but there isn't - women aren't kept out of academia or certain professions any more, they can't be sexually harassed and they receive the same wages

There is of course still the 'gender pay gap' - but this always relates to the average pay across the whole of society, it doesn't mean that I get more per hour in McDonald's than the woman next to me (hypothetical, I don't actually work in Maccy D's)

Female part-time workers still earned 40% less per hour than their full-time male counterparts, Ms Harman told Today BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Do we think she is 40% less intelligent, less committed, less hard-working, less qualified? It's not the case. It's entrenched discrimination. It's allowed to persist because it's all swept under the carpet."

Now, the actual gender pay gap is 23% according to the Beeb - for some reason Harriet chooses to compare the disparity between women who work part-time, and men who work full-time

Why not men who work part-time, or women who work full-time? An odd comparison, principally used to find a higher than average discrepancy - for me the 23% difference would've worked better than a larger, but irrelevant figure

Does she not see the obvious problem with these figures? The glaringly obvious fact that men and women dominate different employment sectors? - in some cases where pay is not disclosed maybe a man will be paid more but I doubt this accounts for the majority of the discrepancy

There are more men in IT, there are more women in Retail - guess which pays more? Harriet somehow sees the gap as women systematically being paid 40% less - it has absolutely nothing to do with their choice of employment does it then?

Maybe she is right about unfairness in some areas, but the reasoning she uses to get the message out is always flawed, and it's annoying

The real answer to the issue she brings up is to pay women in lower paying jobs more than the men in those jobs - that's the reality of the situation, Harriet, that or force an equal percentage of women into every single job (including builders and dustbin-men as well as high flying lawyers) because there will always be a discrepancy between where men and women work

Meanwhile it becomes ever easier to get qualifications and get the best jobs if you're a woman or non-white because the minority is favoured in our society (and of course you could simply start drawing dividing lines around anything, maybe blonde haired people are discriminated against?)

I did like how the BBC ended with this graph, tracking the pay gap from the introduction of the Equal Pay Act:

Pretty nice steady drop of 50% since 1970 - seems that the rise of equal opportunities have been fixing the issue just fine without positive discrimination, but such a kick in the balls to the idea at the end of the article is of course still pro-Labour in some pseudo-clandestine way

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