The Big Debate: Positive discrimination in employment is unfair

Agree

Georgia Grace

Undoubtedly we have a problem in this country with cisgender white men having greater employment opportunities than women and minorities. However, implementing positive discrimination is not the right way to go about dealing with this issue.

Although positive discrimination may bolster the careers of a handful of people from less privileged positions, it does so at the expense of perpetuating the belief that cisgender white men are the preferable employee. If employers need rules and incentives to take on women and minorities, that encourages the idea that they aren’t the best person for the job.

Rather than jostling a couple of people around on the surface, we need to tackle the fundamental causes of the problem: institutionalised discrimination. This includes racism, patriarchy, homophobia and ableism among so much others.

By this I mean educating employers about the causes of their implicit biases and breaking down the myths that perpetuate them. This can happen directly through the work of charities and government initiatives, but it can also start with the national curriculum. It’s also important that we ensure businesses are equipped to cater to the needs of all staff including disabled, mentally ill and neurodivergent individuals.

Education is also necessary to bring underachieving demographics – such as African-Caribbean boys – up to the same level of academic achievement as other young people, in order to improve their job prospects. Much more work needs to go into identifying the exact causes behind these disparities and tackling them.

In the case of women and girls, there continues to be a distinct shortage of those entering high-earning and influential careers across the board in business, the arts, sciences and politics. Much of this is the result of misogynistic ideas of what jobs are suitable for women, which girls absorb at a young age. It is evident in the very language we use how these stereotypes persist: low-earning jobs like waitress, lolly-pop lady and dinner lady we subconsciously apply female pronouns to; while for professions such as fireman, policeman and businessman we are drawn to male pronouns.

As a result of this gendered view of career prospects, girls grow up with a skewed idea of what opportunities are available to them and tailor their ambitions accordingly.

By addressing these fundamental problems behind employment discrimination, women and minorities will be in a stronger position to develop their careers without having to rely on the corrupt, and frankly insulting, systems of hand-outs and demographics quotas that are becoming increasingly prevalent in the UK.

To argue in favour of positive discrimination is to deny the logic that the best candidate for any job should be given that job. To me, that is completely absurd.

Positive discrimination also provides ammunition for those who try to paint feminism as anti-male or LGBT+ advocacy as a demand for special treatment. As a feminist and an LGBT+ advocate I am disgusted at how these important causes have been derailed in recent years by this kind of critique, which is almost always unwarranted. Advocating positive discrimination however, directly invites this kind of criticism.

It is possible to increase opportunities for women and minorities without taking away from men who, although they may have privilege on their side, have still worked extremely hard to get to the place they are today.

There is a reason positive discrimination has the word “discrimination” in it, and for that reason it cannot possibly be considered fair or remotely beneficial to obtaining equality.

Disagree

Devin Thomas

It seems extremely clear to me that positive discrimination is not only warranted, it is the only conceivable way to combat the massive inequality in employment we currently face.

True, it would not mean we are truly “equal”- there would be certain groups upon whom it would be made easier. However, the reasoning for this cannot be ignored- these groups need to have life made easier for them because the groups who have monopolised the world of employment until now are the groups who, by their privilege and the ease of their life, inadvertently put them in this disadvantaged position in the first place.

Men in their 30s in the United Kingdom outearn women by, on average, £8775 a year. This cannot be seen as an acceptable pay gap, or one that comes down to factors other than discrimination: women just as capable for jobs are not considered.

Thankfully, in younger generations this is being reversed to some extent, with women in their 20s outearning men by, on average, £1,111 a year. I would argue that the reason for this is an increased reliance on positive discrimination in employment.

Discrimination doesn’t have to be a bad word. By placing people of historically disadvantaged groups in employment over privileged people going for the same job, we can reverse the social conditioning that has led to their disadvantaged positions and encourage more people in similar situations to aim to achieve.

Right now there is a kind of stigma around helping people. It is believed by many people that to have a decent life you must struggle, and any help given to you by anyone is cheating. I hope we can reverse this- helping people who are not in a position to help themselves is our responsibility as citizens, and absolutely the right thing to do.

This applies perfectly to the case of positive discrimination in employment- people need help, and by giving it to them we will reduce the number of people who need the same help in the future, hopefully kickstarting a truly equal future society by making things very slightly harder for those in a privileged and advantaged position currently.

Frankly, I have little empathy for those who see their jobs as being “stolen” from them due to positive discrimination as they are being taken by people who should have been considered in the first place. Diversity quotas and equal opportunity employment are essential for keeping discrimination in check: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that qualified candidates for every job exist outside of the group of white males generally hired for every single one of them, and to continue to allow this to go unchallenged is insane to me.

If you believe the status quo is fine as is, that’s okay. I would have to disagree, however, as discrimination can be seen everywhere.

It exists in Universities, in government, in schools, banks and charities. Certain groups are seen as respectable, and others are dismissed on sight. This is not the way employment should work.

If we are going to tell people to “earn their way” in the world, it is absolutely vital that we first actually give them the tools to do so: in the case of so many groups, the only way this can be ensured, due to the currently discriminatory work climate, is by positive discrimination.

Featured Image: Flickr

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
503 views1
Campus News
503 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
37 views
Arts
37 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
83 views
Arts
83 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
88 views
Arts
88 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
111 views
Arts
111 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
132 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
144 views
Arts
144 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
137 views
Arts
137 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
216 views
Campus News
216 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
101 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
203 views
Arts
203 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
134 views
Arts
134 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
210 views
Artist Focus
210 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
143 views
Interview
143 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
212 views
Arts
212 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
233 views
Arts
233 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
273 views
Arts
273 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
189 views
Artist Focus
189 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
194 views
Books
194 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
249 views
Science
249 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
259 views
News
259 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…