The issue of discrimination in the hiring process is one that continues to haunt human resources personnel. Minorities and women are frequently suspicious of human resources personnel when they fail to get a job for which they believe they are suitably qualified. Such concerns on the part of women and minorities are not simply figments of their imaginations, however. Historically, there have been biases in society that have made it difficult for people from the above-mentioned groups to get a fair shake when it comes to employment. In recent years, as the issue has gained more and more prominence in the media, many organizations have sought to change their systems, adopting formalized approaches that appear to spell out very clearly what the organization requires in order to hire a potential employee.
Such formalized approaches also include efforts at diversifying the work population and ensuring that the workplace reflects the community within which it is operating. Although many companies have joined the bandwagon of a formalized approach to recruitment, there is no indication that this has consigned discrimination in the hiring process to the dustbin of history, prompting the government to pass legislation that will force the hand of businesses to include women, minorities, disabled, and the aged in their ranks…or else! .
Even though some companies have voluntarily been getting minorities on board, there are those who believe that such efforts are only to ensure that there is a token minority, one that will force the media and other critics from questioning the company about its employment practices. In effect, there is a strong belief that many companies in the UK could do more, much more.
A University of Bristol report on the issue of discrimination in hiring, which was early this year, “called for the UK to force certain firms to employ more people from ethnic minorities. It backed the use of contract compliance, which is used I the US to set positive action timetables for firms doing business with the state” (Pitcher 2007). In the US, such efforts have succeeded in reducing the disparities in hiring of minorities. This is certainly not welcome news for UK firms because having such a process would add to the burden for the targeted companies who will need to fill out various forms to satisfy the government that they are complying.
The report was not only welcomed by the government which sees a need to do more to make UK an equitable society but also it was welcomed by the Commission for Racial equality, whose chairman, Trevor Phillips, said: Some areas of employment will never stop being all white without new kinds of positive action” (Pitcher 2007). Forcing employers to hire minorities and women, however, has been criticized, no less by one of the authors of the Bristol report, who was concerned that there would be a backlash against minorities if there was any perception in the society that the government was promoting positive discrimination.
As the report found, in other countries that had instituted such reforms, it was not enough to favour candidates in the recruitment process mainly on the grounds of race (Woolnough 2007).