Prejudice Without Pride

Prejudice is alive and well and living right here amongst us. I am sure that for many that is not an earth-shattering revelation, if we are honest we all know it is still practiced, what often annoys me is the fact that there are people who simply refuse to accept that this is true.

People actively discriminate against other people on the grounds of prejudice irrespective of work-based policies or legislation. It goes on. As a disabled person I know that this is true; I have experienced it many times during my life.

Protected Characteristics

Protected Characteristics

 

I have recently been attending a development program aimed at people who possess what are called ‘protected characteristics’ (race, religion, gender, that sort of thing), the intent being to give us the skills necessary to break through the wall of prejudice that limits our progression in terms of promotion and such. I like the mission statement but it did not take me long to realise that in many respects this was all a wasted effort, well at least for some of us. What I mean by this is that we are not the problem, it is the people above us, the middle-management, that have the prejudice that needs to be broken. I can support this claim with a case study.

This is not fictional, it is real but I have redacted some details so as not to get myself into trouble.

A position is advertised for a junior management role. There is one person already in place, Candidate A, whose work created the advertised role. They are the recognised subject matter expert with 10 years’ experience but they were not promoted to the new role when it was created. They are not being given a chance to compete for it against Candidate B. Here is how the compare:

Candidate A Candidate B
Experience

Y

N

Skills

Y

N

Training

Y

N

Worked at same level previously

Y

N

Appropriate Personal Development

Y

N

Plays Golf*

N

Y

Time Served

25 years

<1 year

Protected Characteristic

Y

N

*Golf is used here in place of a quality shared by the management and some members of staff.

Both candidates perform well at interview when discussing issues not related to the job with Candidate A obviously performing better on those said issues; so who got the job?

That is right, Candidate B. Above all else playing golf is considered more important than any other desirable skill or experience, even if it is not mentioned in the job advert.

This is not the first time that this has happened to me, I mean Candidate A. Sadly it is an often repeated scenario. Having a protected characteristic does not protect you from discrimination, it just validates the fact that prejudice is applied in a decision making process that should, according to both the law and policies, be free from it.

Only the naive will maintain that people will not be averse to things that they do not know, especially when they are contained or represented by other people. It does not matter whether those unknown, or perhaps misunderstood, things relate to gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, disability, or anything else. People always seem to gravitate towards what they know and like about other people. Like attracts like. They feel more comfortable around their own kind. In the case study above this means people who play golf will be more welcome in management than those who do not irrespective of which candidate is best suited to the job.

There is no room for pride in prejudice even if it occasionally gives rise to the opinion formed in ignorance or assumed beforehand. When a senior manager claims that their team is handpicked this is not an expression of pride, it is an admission of weakness. Irrespective of whether or not they have bent, if not broken, extant company policy to achieve their handpicked team, the fact is that they have acted out of fear of the unknown and surrounded themselves with possibly lesser beings simply because they cannot bring themselves to challenge their own ignorance. Prejudice is born from ignorance in many instances.

There is evidence that organisations that fail to challenge such prejudice injure themselvesracism-clipart-gg58144404 by throwing out what they think is the chaff only to discover later that it is in fact the wheat. True talent is revealed when it is allowed the freedom expression, if it is fettered with prejudice then it is simply stifled and ultimately lost. It seems to me that this is a truth that is generally known and just as generally ignored when it suits the people who make the decisions.

Advertisements

About petercwhitaker

I am an author and lover of life!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s