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May 25 2011 4 25 /05 /May /2011 19:52


There are many things I do not understand. No doubt at the root of many of these matters is intellectual deficiency while personal bias and interest may also prevent full comprehension of many other ideas. One area where I feel the challenge to my already limited intellect and to my overburdened ego particularly strongly is in relation to employment and ethnicity. Many positions of employment are offered purporting to assure potential applicants that a variety of factors relating (sometimes among others)  to their ethnicity, religious belief or persuasion, nationality and even sexual orientation are not merely irrelevant to the said job, but will not be considered  at all by the job offerors. All that appears to be relevant and all that will be contemplated by the potential employer is the capability and suitability of the applicant to perform the job in question. Up until this point the challenge to my comprehension has not yet begun. It seems only fair on all concerned that any job should rightly be given to the candidate who can do it if not the best then at least adequately and competently. Any perceived, or actual, prejudice, either on the part of the employer, or society or portions of it, against the ethnicity, religion, race or sexuality of the applicant, should not interfere, it would seem, in the selection process.


Where the challenge to my intellectual prowess begins is in trying to grasp why by law a job applicant must, in applying for a job, for which his ethnicity, race, religion, gender and sexuality are neither relevant nor allowed to be relevant, must fill out a form giving particulars of his ethnicity, race, religion, gender and potentially his/her sexuality to his potential employer. Such forms are called ‘Ethnicity Monitoring Forms’  or ‘Equal Opportunity Monitoring’ forms and require the applicant to supply all the information to the employer, that the employer says he will not be considering as relevant and which, in addition, he, the employer, may not consider. These forms are there for the employer to consult, not for the purposes of considering the applicants suitability for the job, but so that employers can monitor their equal opportunities policies. This is what applicants are told. The law probably provides ‘guidelines’ as to how the process should be ‘monitored’ in an ‘open and transparent’ manner and it is possibly a combination of my own limitations and bias that disables me from recognising the value, purpose or integrity of the system. The incentives to fiddle the system appear to be many, particularly to those who either wish to deny their own prejudices, or hide them succesfully within the realms allowed by the regulations.


What is particularly infuriating to me is the way these forms fail to accommodate my particular ethnicity. There are a variety of possibilities for black applicants, such as Afro-Caribbean, African or Afro-American as well as those for White people. Mr Obama is, undoubtedly and African-American. He was born in Honolulu of an American mother and Kenyan father. I, who am born in Africa, descended from African born grandmothers and African born parents and who lived the first thirty two years of my life in Africa, do not have the option of ‘White African’, and must opt for ‘White Other’ and then specify. Others, whose ancestors were born in Africa, but were plucked from there unceremoniously several hundred years ago can be classified as, at least, quasi-Africans.  Now although I am a British citizen I am not sure than naturalization gives one ethnicity, so even though I was classified white under apartheid the ‘White British’ option is not very appealing, or seemingly a true reflection of my ethnicity to assist or hinder those involved in contemplating my employability.


My main source of bewilderment was a process I was recently exposed to when applying for a job with an employer who is classed as an equal opportunities employer and who employment rigmarole involves filling a fully comprehensive, inclusive and legally compliant Equalities monitoring form. The forms ensured all applicants that our ethnicity, race, religion etcetera were not factors to hinder in any way our eligibility for the role in question. A further source of confusion and bewilderment to my tiny and biased intellect, prevented me from understanding compliance with this procedure in the context of the application for the post of Rabbi of an orthodox Jewish congregation. Now although I am in possession of orthodox rabbinical ordination and am ethnically and religiously Jewish, had I written on the form that I was an ethnic Asian of Methodist faith, would they have been allowed to consider that in my application? If one put his religious views as ‘apostate’ might the potential employer have either actually contemplated this fact in the selection process or happily ignored it? Might they be criticized or sued or held accountable to some equality Czar or body for breaching legislation or other rules and regulations? It also occurs that in monitoring this organisation’s equality monitoring records one might find an unusually strong inclination to employ white, male orthodox Jews in rabbinical positions. One may find very few or no applicants who fit into other categories to balance the process in line with the general population.


I have been for jobs where the process purports to be equality friendly. My distinction of appearing to be a white orthodox Jewish male has definitely caused eyebrows to be raised by interviewers, who fail to mask their anti-Semitic inclinations behind their equality facade.


The rules are ridiculous, useless and an expensive legislative farce, the advantages of which can probably only be perceived by those with sufficient intellectual powers. Perhaps those of us who do not understand simply perceive nakedness where the wise can see the clothing.



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