It is observed that most of the discrimination begins with the first stage of starting the working life in the form of selection of the personnel required for any organisation.According to Schuler (1995), the selection of personnel is the “process of combination of the people who apply for the work at the legal shape can be defended”.Schuler (1995) clearly points out the implications of legislation in this process.
Gatewood & Feild, (1994) observe personnel selection as the starting point of the work life and job advertisement as the beginning of the process of recruitment.
Recruiting the right kind of people is at the root of the success of any organisation. It is critically important that the organisation follows a well-defined recruitment process to ensure only right kind of people be taken onboard in the company.
A general recruitment process normally involves identifying the current vacancies, preparation of detailed job description in respect of the vacancies identified, specification of the requirements of the prospective incumbents, advertising, managing the response, short-listing, arranging interviews, conducting interviews, decision making, intimating the decision to the prospective employees and carrying out the process of appointment (QPlus, 2002).
In the process of recruitment, it is important to identify the characteristics and requirements of the vacant position and the personality traits of the individual that would enable the incumbent to perform successfully (Raetz, 2001). With the number of legislations regulating the work force discrimination and equal opportunities, it is also vitally important the recruitment process consider the implications of the provisions of various legislations that may have an impact on the recruitments undertaken by the organisation.
What is ‘Equal Opportunities’? In the realm of employment, ‘equal opportunities’ is the concept that underpins ensuring equality of opportunity in relation to recruitment of workers as well as their training and promotion. The equal opportunities policy stresses the point that, access to jobs, training and development and promotion opportunities should be open and made available to all.
Such options should be made available to people irrespective of any consideration of “colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief, criminal record (in certain cases) or whether someone is intending to undergo, is undergoing or undergone gender re-assignment (that is a sex change)” (Employment Affairs Department, 2004) Discrimination Discrimination has been defined by Daft (1991) to include the process of selection of the candidates for a position according to the criteria, which are unrelated to the job.
Discrimination in the recruitment process can be categorized into two groups (Lawler & Bae, 1998). Direct discrimination is the different treatment extended by the employer to his employees having same qualifications because of reasons like race, gender or marital status. Examples of direct discrimination may be found in the job advertisements that specify gender or age limitations. Indirect discrimination takes place by the decision, criteria or treatment of an employer which otherwise look neutral but cause disadvantages to employees who have different characteristics in terms of race, ethnicity, sex or age.
Indirect discrimination is derived from the differential impact it creates on the employee positions and working. Therefore, according to Simon (2005) “indirect discrimination is perceptible only by statistical reasoning, using the data collected in various selection and allocation procedures. ” Discrimination has the potential to hamper the equality of opportunity. If an employer advertises for a position and asks for a requirement, which cannot be a bona fide occupation qualification, candidates who do not have the prescribed special requirement cannot make an application to the position advertised.
Impact of Equal Opportunities Legislation on Recruitment Process The objective of a recruitment process is to identify the right person for the right job. The process of recruitment should have the ability to attract the candidates so that the organisation can employ a suitable person to the position that has fallen vacant. Equal opportunities or diversity management is an important aspect that needs to be taken into account in making decisions on the selection and appointment of candidates.
All the considerations like colour, race, religion, ethnicity, sex, age, disability and other factors that might lead to discrimination of the workforce have been underpinned by legislation with the specific objective of placing an obligation on the employers not to discriminate. In Northern Ireland, applicants for jobs and those in employment also are entitled to the right of not being discriminated by the current or prospective employer even because of their political opinions.
When advertising vacant positions, the organisation should make it clear that the organisation is looking for applications from people, who might otherwise think that the organisation is not interested in recruiting them. For instance, people from an ethnic minority background or women or people with disabilities may think so. Therefore, it becomes imperative that the organisation develops a well-considered equal opportunities policy.
Such a policy when evolved and adopted would enable the organisation to reduce time and efforts being wasted on time-consuming and expensive litigations by the job applicants, present and past employees on the plea that they have been discriminated. The legal background to equal opportunities are contained in a range of Acts and legislations passed through the Parliament to ensure that the employers do not discriminate unduly against the prospective, current and past employees of the organisation.
Against sex discriminations, there are the Equal Pay Act, 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act, 1975 and the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999, which control the discrimination by the employers. Apart from these legislations, there are a number of rules prescribed to protect general employment conditions. These legislations govern the leave rules for women workers including flexible working for working parents which when infringed will be considered as sex discrimination.
People are protected from racial discrimination by the Race Relations Act 1976, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnicity. The employers can overcome any potential infringement to the Race Relations Act by the employer applying the same employment conditions to all the applicants during the recruitment process (Employment Affairs Department, 2004).Employers should also be aware of the provisions of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, which contains penal provisions of prosecution when the employer employs illegal immigrants.
The Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 has been enacted to protect the job opportunities for the people with disabilities. This legislation places an obligation on the employers to make “appropriate and reasonable adjustment” to the work place or working practices so that people with disabilities can accept or continue in the employment. Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders Act1974 contains provisions for ensuring rehabilitation of the offenders who have not been reconvicted for any serious crimes for specified periods.
The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 makes the act of discrimination in employment or vocational training based on religion or belief objectionable (Employment Affairs Department, 2004). There is the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, 2003 deems the discrimination on sexual orientation grounds unlawful. For the purposes of this regulation, the term sexual orientation means “a sexual orientation towards persons of the same sex (homosexuality), persons of the opposite sex (heterosexuality) or to persons of the same sex and the opposite sex (bisexuality).
”(Employment Affairs Department, 2004) Approaches to Equal Opportunities in Employment There are several competing approaches to offering equal opportunities in employment. Some of them go very strong in favour of direct discrimination while some others focusing more on indirect discrimination. However, the arguments against equality claim that discrimination in employment is unfair to those who are not considered based on their merit leads to wastage of resources and can possibly result in major social issues (McDonald & Potton, 1996).
Since the employers cannot ascertain the impact and cost of legislation in this field it is preferable that actions are initiated through non-legislative means. From the business case, perspective it will be advantageous to the organisation when a proper fit between business goals and equality goals is worked out. However, it must be remembered that ethical and cost considerations go together where equal opportunities policies are bureaucratically cumbersome and found to be focusing too much on “equal rights” than “equal opportunities”.
The “value added” by the diversity of workforce is another important consideration that goes in favour of equal opportunities. Example of the capabilities of women workforce to handle multiple responsibilities is often cited as the best advantage that an organisation can reap (Mason, 1986; Liff & Cameron, 1997; Webb, 1997). Concept of equal opportunities stresses the need for retaining skilled and trained staff, as with pragmatic concern to retain valuable workers there need to be a fair policy on providing equal opportunities. Research Methodology
In general, social science uses a number of different research methods for improving the knowledge, theory and practice in different areas of social science. It can be observed that the different types of quantitative and qualitative research methods are linked to epistemological and theoretical frameworks. The research methods can be grouped under five common categories. They are; (i) experimental, (ii) correlation, (iii) natural observation, (iv) survey and (v) case study. The conducting of any research relating to social sciences has to find a suitable research method to accomplish the research objectives.
The choice of the particular research method depends on the topic under study and the aims and objectives of the research. Although there are many ways of classifying the research methods the most popularly used distinction is between qualitative and quantitative research methods. Quantitative Research Methods Quantitative research methods find their origin in natural sciences where they are used to diagnose and analyze natural phenomena. Certain commonly adopted quantitative methods include survey methods, laboratory experiments, econometrics and mathematical modeling.
According to White, (2000) the quantitative research method consists of investigative process that leads to research conclusions expressed in numerical values. The numerical values represent the findings of the study and the values are subjected to statistical analysis for presenting the results of the study. Qualitative Research Methods The main objective of developing qualitative research methods is to enable the researchers to make an in-depth study into the social and cultural phenomena. Action research, case study, ethnography are some of the techniques employed for conducting qualitative research.
Creswell (1994) defines qualitative research as a process of enquiry that involves the understanding any problem connected with the social or human behavior. The qualitative research process according to Creswel, (1994) is based on the views and perceptions of various informants being the participants to the study that are expressed in a natural setting. The data sources for supplementing qualitative research methods include observation and participant observation (fieldwork), structured and semi structured interviews, focus groups and questionnaires, documents and texts.
The data may also be provided by the impressions and reactions of the researcher himself/herself. Choice of Research Methods for Current Study The perceptions of the employees on workforce discrimination are always subjective. Considering the subjective nature of the topic under study, it is proposed to use a mixed research method for achieving the objectives of this research. The research has employed the quantitative research method of survey and qualitative research methods of focus groups and semi-structured interviews for collecting the required empirical materials. Survey Method
Survey method is deemed as non-experimental and descriptive in conducting social researches. This method is being employed by the researchers for collection of information and data on issues where the researchers cannot involve themselves directly. Survey method employs the use of questionnaire for collection of the required information. This method criticized as it is often being designed and administered in a disorderly manner that results in the collection of data, which are inaccurate. Meyer, (1998) observes a careful selection of representative sampling and a proper design of the questionnaire are two important elements of survey method.
A poorly designed questionnaire may generate meaningless information. Thus, the information and data collected from the samples represent the views of the total population and therefore the information need to be gathered through intelligent questions addressed to the chosen samples (Cresswell 1994; Newmann, 2002; Fink, 1995) Focus Groups Focus groups are considered as a powerful means of evaluating any social issues. Focus groups are nothing but interviews where normally 6 to 10 people are present to answer predetermined questions. It is possible to gather a great deal of information through conducting focus group interviews.
Denzin & Lincoln, (2005) observe that the term ‘Focus Group’ was first used in the work of Merton et al. (1956) where the group members were posed with specific questions on the research issues at an advanced stages when considerable progress has been made in conducting the research. Kreuger, (1988) defines a focus group as a “carefully planned discussion designed to obtain perceptions in a defined area of interest in a permissive, non-threatening environment”. Focus group is an action research technique under qualitative research in which interviews are an important part.
The interviews provide an opportunity for the researcher to follow through his/her investigation to gather further data that could not have been obtained by using other ways (Cunningham, 1993). Semi-Structured Interviews Semi-structured interview is the most common form of interviewing technique in which the interviewer has determined the set of questions he/she intends to ask in advance but still allows the interview to flow more conversationally. In order to have the flow of conversation the interviewer can change the order of the questions or the particular wording of the questions.
The main objective of the semi-structured interview is to get the interviewee to talk freely and openly so that the researcher would be able to obtain in-depth information on the topic under study. By employing the ‘online’ survey method this study proposes to send a questionnaire containing close-ended questions to 100 chosen samples through their respective email addresses. Focus group interviews will be conducted by establishing two focus groups with a convenience sample of employees of British Airways to find out their observations and opinions on availability of equal opportunities in British Airways.
Apart from the survey and the focus interviews, in-depth semi-structured interviews will be conducted with two HR executives of British Airways Project Management Schedule PROPOSED TIME TABLE FOR THE DISSERTATION JAN FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL WEEK 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 Activity Duration Identify research materials and Drafting of Research Objectives 2weeks Writing of literature review 1weeks Drafting of project purpose 1 week Submission of project proposal 1 week Designing of Questionnaires 2 weeks Piloting of questionnaires and interviews and revising 2 weeks
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