> 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.