Saturday, November 29, 2014

Are Affirmative Action Plans Fair?

As I read yet another blurb from a government agency about how it is going to get "indigenous Australians into jobs" by implementing what are racist policies for selection, my eyes rolled back in their sockets and I sighed, "ho hum".

Here we go again. I've been involved with these policies for at least three decades ... 30 years, and as a human resources specialist with years of experience in recruitment and selection, I've never seen one that works.

An affirmative action plan is really saying to those whom it favours that they aren't qualified or experienced enough to get a job if they have to compete with others, but we'll give you one anyway. We'll just have to hope that you learn something after you get in the job.

These type policies, apart from being racist (but excused under Australian law ... which is another issue), don't do the job winner any good and neither do they help the morale of other, better qualified candidates.

I've seen a handful of so-called indigenous Australian managers placed in jobs for which they had no chance of success. One person, who was a grader driver one year and a few years later a senior manager, couldn't write a properly worded letter. All his non-indigenous staff had to carry him despite the fact that he earned much more salary than anyone else in the office.

Everyone knew he wasn't up to the job and considered him a fool.

It can't have been good for him knowing that he was struggling and out of depth.

Where I live, there are dozens of organisations all falling over backwards to employ indigenous staff, but the truth is, there aren't sufficient job-ready people to go round, so a small, select group of people who are above average (for their race) move from one agency to another every 18 months or so as they perceive a better salary or opportunity. Most are "white" Aborigines who have indigenous ancestry but who are still allowed all the monetary and other benefits of the so-called disadvantaged.

Meanwhile, most Aboriginal people speak languages other than English and few speak really good English. Most have not been acculturated into good employment practices like turning up on time or even turning up, hygiene etc and are unsuited for work in the modern Australian society. Most are very poorly educated and if they were to apply for jobs, wouldn't get past first post.

Rather than pretending that an affirmative action program will improve their lives, government agencies would be better off case managing individuals through school, perhaps some form of post school training, and then let them compete when they were ready.

Giving people jobs because they are indigenous or part-indigenous is a recipe for failure and an affront to the dignity of other qualified applicants whose applications will be rejected on racist grounds..

There should be no room for racist government legislation, policies or practices in an increasingly diverse Australian society. What do you think?


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