Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Institutional tokenism

Yesterday I asked whether meritocracy had died after reports that the number of ethnic minorities employed by a company relative to the population where it was based would impact whether a contract was awarded by the Government. Now, besides there being the problem that this scheme is predicated on the assumption that a company that does not meet a quota is somehow institutionally racist there are is another objection which Nurdeep Dhaliwhal raised in the Standard yesterday. Institutional tokenism. For Dhaliwhal the scheme sends out a message to the ethnic minorities that they cannot get along in life with out a leg-up from "whitey". He is of course absolutely correct. Positive discrimination is, by its very nature, divisive on multiple levels. Merit should achieve people employment and nothing more.

There is something else that should be pointed out though. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) which came up with this policy is a 15 member board. It's make up is 12 white men, 2 white women, and 1 member of ethnic minority. They're based in Canary Wharf, which, if I recall correctly, has significantly more than 6% of the population from the ethnic minorities. Anyone fancy a job?

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