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  • HR Hartley: Equal opportunities policies don’t mean much

    first_img Previous Article Next Article Equality, meritocracy and anti-discriminatory measures and practices enjoyalmost totemic status in the HR profession. That’s one reason so many job adverts are plastered with messagesproclaiming an organisation’s commitment to various levels and notions ofequality and merit. Then hirers have to discriminate and find it is not so easy to squareapparently fine ideals and legal requirements with hiring the best person forthe job. Home secretary David Blunkett came up against that very problem last autumnwhen he appointed management consultant, Matt Cavanagh, as a race relationsspecial adviser. What made Blunkett’s choice newsworthy, six months later, is that the pressdiscovered Cavanagh had stated views that are anathema to the equalityindustry, especially its race relations branch. In a 2002 book, Against Equality of Opportunity, written when Cavanagh wasan Oxford University philosophy don, he proposed that not all discrimination iswrong or irrational and that equality is pie in the sky. Cavanagh wrote: “People just aren’t equal in any important wayÉ theyare not equally deserving and they are not equally needy. The only context forequality is in giving out something that is not scarce.” That’ll be the vote and GCSEs. So, what should HR managers make about Cavanagh’s appointment? They maythink it proves Blunkett is either brave or stupid. But perhaps they shouldconsider what their equal opportunities policies mean in practice. In myexperience, not much, especially when it comes to recruiting. For too many, the words ‘We welcome applications etcÉ’ ring hollow. Theyshould be replaced by ‘We will recruit whoever we think is the best person forthe job’. Hartley is an HR director at large Comments are closed. HR Hartley: Equal opportunities policies don’t mean muchOn 6 Apr 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more