Discrimination at work growing despite new laws and policies: ILO

| | Updated on: May 12, 2011

“Discrimination in employment and occupation can also result in long-term poverty by limiting access to assets and services.”

Discrimination at work has aggravated worldwide, even as the number of laws, initiatives and awareness drives have significantly increased, says a new study.

Blaming lack of political will and inadequate financial and manpower resources for the situation, the report says, “Having laws and institutions to prevent discrimination at work is not enough; keeping them functioning effectively is a challenge.”

The report, “Equality at Work: The Continuing Challenge”, deals with discrimination against age, sex, race, social origin, religion and disability.

Referring to Dalits in India, it links the impact of inequalities at work to the high levels of poverty.

“Discrimination in employment and occupation can also result in long-term poverty by limiting access to assets and services….. In India, the poverty rate for Dalits (65.8 per cent) is almost twice the rate for the rest of the population (33.3 per cent),” it says.

It quotes a field study by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, which demonstrated the Indian private sector's discrimination in hiring low-caste people.

“The chances of a qualified applicant with a Dalit name being invited for an interview were about two-thirds of that of a high-caste Hindu applicant. The chances of an equally qualified Muslim applicant being invited for an interview were found to be about one-third of that of a high-caste Hindu applicant,” it says.

With regard to the disabled, the report refers to the UN estimates, according to which 80 per cent of such persons live in developing countries in poverty, many of them in rural areas.

Such persons are excluded from certain jobs because of limited access to education, vocational training and rehabilitation.

The report calls for stronger institutional safeguards to withstand changes in economic and social circumstances.

“Government policies are subject to change in response to economic fluctuations, prevailing hopes and fears, or perceived threats and promises. At times of crisis, it is more important to have robust institutional arrangements in place,” it adds.

It also stressed on the need for improved data collection as the most important and complex first step to identifying the problem and thus tackling it.

Published on May 12, 2011

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