Equal Opportunities and Diversity - Is This Equality?

As a recent philosophy graduate in the midst of the credit crunch I am finding it impossible to get a job. A philosophy degree doesn’t lend itself to any particular job so for any graduate schemes I apply for I’m always going to be beaten by someone more qualified than me. But this isn’t what this is about; it was just a bit of background to show how I know what I want to rant about, and explain perhaps why I am so annoyed. In the last six months or so I have applied for hundreds and hundreds of jobs (completely unsuccessfully I might add) and lots of them send me applications to fill out, which is also quite annoying because it would be easier to just send out my CV.

When they send the applications though, most of them also send an Equal Opportunities and Diversity questionnaire to be filled out. It asks the sort of questions they aren’t allowed to ask in interviews and that would be classed as discrimination if they were asked in the main body of the application or in an interview; things like race/gender/sexuality/religion/whether you have any disabilities and birth date, which I think has recently become illegal to ask. How is it any different to ask these questions in a separate form than in the application itself? They ask these things in the name of fairness and equality but if they were being fair surely they wouldn’t ask at all.

I am white, British, female, straight, non-religious and non-disabled but I have to wonder if I was black or Indian, gay, Buddhist, disabled would I be more likely to get a job? Because the only conclusion I can come to is that they want to appear to be promoting equality and fairness by employing ‘diverse’ people. Why else would they want to know all this BEFORE they employ you. I wrote a hub a while ago about feminism and positive discrimination; ranting about women in politics and Labour’s quota scheme, and thought I’d got it all out my system but here it is again potentially effecting my life. Several times I have been tempted to write random things on the form and see if it makes a difference to whether I get a job, or even an interview. What would/could they do if they found out I had lied?

I’ve been trying to justify employers’ decisions for these questionnaires and I just can’t come up with a reasonable explanation.  Perhaps they don’t read the questionnaires until they hire you, but then why wouldn’t they just ask you to fill it out once they’d hired you. That would make more sense. I don’t know a lot about employment laws so I don’t know how companies are allowed to ask all the things in an ‘equality and diversity questionnaire’ that they are forbidden from asking in a regular application. If anyone knows why these are allowed and for what purpose then please please educate me!

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MordechaiZoltan profile image

MordechaiZoltan 7 years ago

Big Brother or Sister for that matter is here and now. It's the same in the US.

jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England Author

tell me about it! usually the big brother stuff that people complain about doesn't bother me; cctv, id cards because it's not actually going to affect my life in any way (and it's supposed to make us safer). But you'd think they'd notice that these questionnaires don't actually help anyone!

aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 7 years ago from Malaga, Spain

Hi Jen, good hub, I started a reply yesterday, but it turned into a hub, so I published it, and backlinked to you, take a look and (obviously) you have right of reply and or I can take the backlink out if you wish!

Best of luck with your job seeking!


jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England Author

Wow, thanx a lot John, I'll check that out!!

SOBF profile image

SOBF 7 years ago from New York, NY

Hey Jen I responded to a hub written by aguasilver that used your hub as a jump off point. What you forgot to recognize on that form is gender. Women (even White ones) are part of the affirmative action program in the US.

But to answer your question about the forms. They are seperated from the actual application and kept on file to indetify the types of applicants that have applied to the company. They are in no way used in the evaluation process.

Back to your hub - women are considered a disadvantaged group in the US just like those in the other cateogories you mentioned. You hub is sort of like a white person on welfare complaining about blacks getting entitlements.

shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

It is about positive discrimination. The only trouble is that when one section of the population is positively discriminated for, another section is negatively discriminated. It is supposed to encourage diversity in the work place.

Good hub x

jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England Author

@SOBF - I'mn not racist, I'm not saying that I should get a job ahead of a black, indian or disabled person, that they shouldnt have rights. I'm saying that the person who gets the job should be the person best qualified for the job. I shouldnt be given a job just because I'm white (or female) and they shouldnt be given a job just to fill some quotas. The only thing that should matter is who is best at the job.

@shazwellyn - I don't see why there needs to be discrimination at all. When it comes to a work environment, diversity should come only (maybe) second to actually doing the work!

SOBF profile image

SOBF 7 years ago from New York, NY

jenblacksheep - while you may not be racist, however you are using a biased mindset to view your situation. How have you determined that your lack of opportunity is related to minority employment policies? Have you ever considered that you may be the victim of discrimination yourself. That many male dominated organizations shun hiring young women because of the threat of pregnancy, marriage, and dedication to family and children. Could it be that those applying for employment are actually better qualified for that particular job than yourself. With all the variables involved in your lack of opportunity, the only way you could possible come to the need for your rant is by thinking that affirmative action programs ie minorities are holding you back and the only way you could really come to that conclusion would be to one, receive notification of who was hired instead of you (which we both know has not happened) or you mentally view minorities as some threat to while males past position of priviledge. I say white men because white women have not benefited from white priviledge in the way that white males have.

If you consider the small minority population in the UK it is more than likely your inability to find a job would be more likely influenced by white male priviledge than affirmative action, unless you are focusing on a career in dance or music..:-)

jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England Author

It is perfectly possible that I'm just not qualified enough and don't have enough work experience. I know that is true a lot of the time, especially on graduate schemes, and at the moment when there are so few jobs around. I'm not trying to suggest that I've been supremely disadvantaged or anything like that, or that I'm more deserved than anyone else.

I don't think I'm being biased ... I'm not usually. I just want to know what the point of those forms is, and why I have to fill them out when I apply for a job. I could understand being given it once I'd been hired. The point is that employers shouldn't know that stuff about you before they hire you.

I was actually considering writing another hub (or extending this one) to write about employers not being able to ask women if they're going to get pregnant. It's actually an interesting discussion, I'm not sure what I think.

SJC 7 years ago

well ive been wondering the same thing lately, except i wonder if i was white, would i have more chance of getting a job. every interview i go to, there are next to no non white people there, so while that might just be my industry, i dont know if not being white is actually a bonus or not. really though, i dont see why i have to fill out these forms and am finding it increasingly annoying - im not sure i believe theyre separated from the main application when being considered.

jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England Author

Thanx for commenting SJC. I don't know what it is like everywhere, I'm sure discrimination still goes on in many places, both positive and otherwise. I just don't see how those forms can be doing any good.

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