Alex Sangha: Employment equity will level the playing field

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      > By Alex Sangha  

      I am a 37-year-old Indo-Canadian social democrat who recently had dinner with an intelligent, 20-year-old  Caucasian conservative.  It wasn't long before we started chatting about, God forbid, employment equity.  

      Here are my Conservative friend's views against employment equity:  

      * Employment equity takes jobs away from  Caucasian people.  

      * If minorities can't get a job they should move.

      * The best qualified person should get the job.

      * It should be up to the business owner whom he or she wants to hire.

      * Employment equity creates inequality because it sets up a separate, inferior hiring system for minorities.    

      * Employment equity has been a failure. Even the government cannot reach its employment-equity targets.
       
      My friend felt that disadvantaged groups--such as persons with disabilities, transgendered people, or aboriginal people--should receive no employment equity in hiring.  They should have to compete like everyone else.  

      He did not recognize that some people are born with advantages  in society  while others are discriminated against and experience barriers.    
       
      My counterarguments in favour of employment equity are below:
       
      * As long as there is inequality in society, we need employment equity or something more efficient at hiring qualied underrepresented applicants.
       
      * I feel the workforce should be representative of the population.
       
      * Minorities are starting to make up a huge percentage of college and university graduates, but they are discriminated against when they apply for jobs.
       
      A UBC study recently reported that people with English-sounding names were 40 percent  more likely to be called for job interviews those with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani names with identical resumes.
       
      The establishment in this country is still dominated by  Caucasian males, especially  among  the political and economic elite.  

      Not much has changed at the top. Women and minorities face an uphill battle trying to succeed in such an environment.  
       
      It is a myth that minorities are taking jobs from Caucasians.  

      If  Caucasians are "overrepresented" in the workforce, then they are taking jobs from minorities who are "underrepresented".  

      The goal  should be  for the workforce to be representative of the population.      
       
      It is a baseless argument to suggest that women and minorities are not qualified because there are  two different hiring systems.  They must obviously meet the qualifications to apply.  

      The successful applicant  might even be the best qualified on the team.  
       
      Lastly, the various levels of government should do extensive outreach to hire qualified people to achieve their employment-equity targets each year so the civil service is representative of the population it serves.  We all pay taxes!  

      There is no excuse for the government not to reach its employment-equity targets, never mind the corporations.  

      Alex Sangha is a registered social worker who lives in Delta.  

      Comments

      7 Comments

      gm

      Jun 26, 2009 at 9:14pm

      I think all Canadians should be treated the same, and so do allot of minorities. This great country was built and originally settled by the first nations and those same white people, you now want to get only 10 percent of the jobs the federal government has.

      I work for the federal government and no one has ever explained to me how it works. Employment Equity, that is. All I know is that they are hiring allot more minorities. And they come and go. Most people go. And then we repeat the hiring procedure all over again.

      The people with higher education are hired more because education is an asset qualification. The majority don't stay long. They move to other departments and use ours as a stepping stone. They are overqualified for the position. The position only requires a high school education.

      Hiring the most suitable person for the job is the way it used to be done. And the people that were hired under that system are still working, where I work, after 25 years. There must be a middle ground in all this. Maybe not.

      Too bad..

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      visigoth

      Jun 27, 2009 at 1:08pm

      The Indians did not build this country gm. They may have been here first, although recent evidence suggest otherwise. It was the 'whiteman' who came, and built the land. Many immigrants from around the world have come since and helped build the country over the years to what it is today.

      Any "equity" programs do nothing but fuel divisions based on those same equality measures. The American equity system is an abject failure, and is being abandoned. We always seem to disregard the lessons learned elsewhere and then suffer the same fate. Nothing breeds contempt like someone getting the job because of the color of their skin. Qualifications should be the only criteria. If you do not qualify, then get off your ass and get the necessary qualifications.

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      Jason

      Jun 27, 2009 at 3:17pm

      Minorities are qualified. There are tons of them graduating from universities. How can they be treated equally when they are not even called for job interviews because of their names or backgrounds. When they get to the interview and the hiring manager finds out their a minority even if they change their name who knows how many still face discrimination. Its up to the government to bring about social change in this area.

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      dale duley

      Aug 20, 2011 at 1:17pm

      The fact of the matter is this some of our own people from our minorities are discriminating. A while back I used to work for richberry group and I was an indo canadian working for an indo canadian employer. Now what happened their was the caucasians were considered highly of whether they lacked in qualifications, overall they were treated better and paid better wages. So the point that I'm trying to get at is that the white ehtnicity is considered superior too other ethnicites even when the minority is more qualified hence treated unfairly even by some of our own.

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      Sandra

      May 22, 2013 at 5:10pm

      I find I am always explaining the "Indian" situation due to total ignorance. And your dismissing it by saying that we are "playing the race card" does not help anyone's situation.

      First of all, when White Man invaded our country it was First Nations people who taught them how to survive. Once First Nations's services where no longer needed they were told to get lost. First Nations would then tack their share of food and instantly called thieves. Then, because the white army couldn't kill us all, all First Nations children (age 5-16) were forced into residential schools to be assimilated and ended up being raped, emotional, physically, spiritually and mentally abused by priests and nuns. First Nations parents were threatened with jail if they did not give their children up. So, once released from residential school, the children did what they learned...abuse others. That's when alcohol came in. If your child was raped and abused from 5-15 years old, would you blame them for turning to alcohol. Now after many years of abuse, we try to get our lives on track and educate ourselves and find we are discriminated against because we are considered thieves and drunks. Once again, imagine a race going to Europe, forcing ALL white children into a school to be raped and abused for most of their childhood. Because most white people don't even know about residential school, you always assume we are given special privileges. Would free health care and education be good enough for your children if they were taken from you to be raped and abused. I don't think so. And it didn't happen a long time ago. It's a cycle and I'm only 45 and have been in residential school. Ignoring our situation is the same as accepting it. Have some empathy instead of always denying and pointing fingers at others.

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      Martin Dunphy

      May 22, 2013 at 7:36pm

      Sandra:

      I think you posted this comment on the wrong article.

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      Sandra

      Jun 4, 2013 at 5:17pm

      Actually, I'm explaining how First Nations people are viewed, including by employers, and where that view originated and explaining what the real story is. First Nations are often not hired because of how people see us but don't know any better.

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