Positive Discrimination

Mon, 16 Sep 2013
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The Metropolitan Police organization is looking at implementing a policy of positive discrimination into their hiring policies. This has prompted a huge debate among HR and Legal professionals alike. Here are some key factors to consider.

Positive discrimination isn’t a new concept. It was actually established to do the opposite. It was created by John F Kennedy in the US in 1961 to ensure that no one would be discriminated in any way on the basis of their creed/colour/national origin.

This scheme has actually been implemented amongst Police officers in America since the 1970s. Several problems with the concept have been identified.  When quotas have been implemented there can still be a bottleneck in place just  by the nature of the existing work force. Just because new hires will be brought in according to new aggregates doesn’t mean that the makeup of the work force will necessarily change. For this to happen people already working in the force will need to leave and this won’t happen in the short term. This means it would take a very long time for sizeable changes to take place.

Sometimes this kind of discrimination will lead to a reduction of morale within existing members of staff. If people feel that candidates are being brought on, not because of their skills and attributes – it can negatively affect staff’s perception of the company they work for and their colleagues. This could lead to a reduction in production in the private sector and employee satisfaction.

Rapid changes in the demographic within London will mean that the positive discrimination policies would need constant review and adjustment. Over the past 20 years London has changed demonstrably. This would make it quite a headache for HR departments to continually conduct analysis to make sure they were hiring in a proportionate fashion.

Positive Discrimination may also have a negative effect on a company’s employer brand. The best talent may shy away from applying to work with them if they feel their application may already be on the back foot due to their ethnicity. This may make companies who enforce this policy struggle to attract as broad a talent pool as possible.

Companies should look at their advertising strategies and branding to ensure an all-encompassing reach, but ultimately appointments should be based on skills, experience and suitability for the role and company.