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Human Rights Errors that lead to an unEqual Employment Opportunity and Discrimination.

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An Equal Employment Opportunity
that offers less discriminatory process's

This document gives an overview of what the authors believe to be a better manner for the collection of disability data during employment process's in New Zealand Government Agencies and the Public Sector, and how analysis of that data can aid in reducing and removing "potentially discriminatory process's and practice's."

It is not intended as a final comprehensive manner for addressing the issues, but to give a simple clear point from which discussion can begin in an open and honourable manner.

The first part of this document titled "The Myth of Equality through Appointment Data" is an updated and extended version of that which can be read online at http://www.graemea.snap.net.nz/eeo_rights/eeo_hr_questions.html

Authors:
Graeme Axford
Malcolm Williams

Authors Footnote:
(This document or any part thereof may be freely used, transmitted or republished by any person for any purpose that moves toward a more inclusive and equal society for all peoples where all potential for discrimination on any basis is lessened or God willing removed for good among the human race in everyday worldly affairs.)

 

The Myth of Equality through Appointment Data.

The following is an extended and updated version of the previous page
http://www.graemea.snap.net.nz/eeo_rights/eeo_hr_questions.html

The First Problem is the current process of collecting disability data on initial application. This recommendation from the State Services Commission Guidelines is errant, and does not lead to a non-discriminatory process.

State Services Commission Advise;

Application forms
Consider the needs of applicants with different disabilities. Information for applications should be in alternative formats where requested - electronic, large print, Braille or tape.

Allow candidates with disabilities to submit an application in a different format from that specified for other candidates - e.g. typewritten, by telephone, on tape or email.

Where someone has supplied email information and requested an email reply, honour that request, even if established procedure requires a letter to be sent as well. (This person may be visually impaired.)

Remove unnecessary questions about disabilities from application forms. If questions are asked about disabilities, the reason for doing so needs to be stated. For example, some departments will include a question on disability as part of the questionnaire to collect EEO information. SSC has recommended the following question can be asked as part of its guidance on EEO data in the Public Service: Do you have any disability that restricts you in performing everyday activities and which is long-term (lasting 6 months or more)?

Human resources staff should separate EEO statistical information (collected at the pre-selection stage) from other candidate application materials, prior to these reaching the interview panel. (General information on the collection of EEO disability statistical information is contained in Appendix 2.)

In general, applications forms should seek only information that is directly relevant to the job and to the candidate's ability to do it.
( Source: http://www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?docid=6863&pageno=2#P73_11793 )

The Second issue is the recommendation from the Human Rights Commission, that supports the errant SSC guidelines.

The Human Rights Commission states:

The Human Rights Commission has alerted the State Services Commission ( SSC ) that some Public Service departments are asking potentially discriminatory health and disability questions in application for employment forms. The SSC conducted a review into the collection of disability data on these forms, and found 22 of 35 departments use variations of the following potentially discriminatory question:

Have you had an injury or medical condition caused by a gradual process, disease, or infection, which the tasks of the position may aggravate or contribute to, or that may affect your ability to carry out the work of the position?

The SSC recommends that all disability data be collected at the time of appointment and not at the time of application. Information on disabilities is sensitive, and has the potential to inappropriately influence decisions on an applicant's suitability for employment where the disability is not directly related to the skills and qualifications needed to perform the job for which they are applying. For this reason, collecting disability information after a person is appointed is likely to produce better quality data. ( Source: http://www.graemea.snap.net.nz/eeo_rights/eeo_hr_questions.html )

 

The Self-fulfilling Discriminatory Process.

Human resources staff should separate EEO statistical information (collected at the pre-selection stage) from other candidate application materials, prior to these reaching the interview panel. (General information on the collection of EEO disability statistical information is contained in Appendix 2.)
(Source: http://www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?docid=6863&pageno=2#P73_11793)

The SSC recommends that all disability data be collected at the time of appointment and not at the time of application. Information on disabilities is sensitive, and has the potential to inappropriately influence decisions on an applicant's suitability for employment where the disability is not directly related to the skills and qualifications needed to perform the job for which they are applying. For this reason, collecting disability information after a person is appointed is likely to produce better quality data.
(Source: http://www.graemea.snap.net.nz/eeo_rights/eeo_hr_questions.html)

Then the claim is made that failure to disclose disability information during the Employment process is grounds for non-appointment or dismissal if later discovered. You have got to be joking. This is not an Equal Employment Opportunity that is workable, it is a self-fulfilling discriminatory process that restricts opportunity and is we suggest a clear example of the desire to discriminate and exclude disabled persons.

 

Addressing the issues.

If the data collected on application is not needed at the time of employment interviews, because of the possibility of discrimination, or the "appearance of discrimination", then the questions need to be answered:

Why ask the question on any application form?
For what reason or purpose is the data collected at the time of application?

Why ask for disability information?

We may argue that an employer should be aware of any impairment / disability that a potential employee may have. Logic dictates certain disabilities / impairments may have a dangerous or damaging effect to clients, organisations, even other employees or self.

For Example:
If someone is colour blind and applies to be an aircraft pilot they can be turned down because of this, as it is an issue of public safety and risk. Given the different coloured gages one needs to be able to read and see the colours of in order to maintain safe flight. It is for this, among other reasons, that any course of instruction or application for instruction or employment as an aviation pilot requires the applicant to undergo a full and thorough medical at the time.

We may even use Graeme's experience as another example:

In consideration of Graeme's disability the Panel felt this may hinder his ability to complete written reports in a timely manner. As the Service is required to work under pressure and to deadlines the Panel felt this pressure may exacerbate his ability to complete written work. Often when an individual is placed under pressure issues come to the surface and this pressure may impact negatively on Graeme's ability to complete work on time. As a good employer we would not like to place our employees under undue pressure.
(Source: http://www.graemea.snap.net.nz/employment/p5_concealedreport.html)

However the SSC guidelines and Human Rights Commission seem to agree that, "disability data of employees in the State Sector should be collected at the time of appointment" to the position. If this is so, then the question does not need to be asked at the time of application for employment. Or indeed during any interview process.

Yet, it is also true, that failure to disclose disability or impairment during the application process can be held as grounds for non-appointment or dismissal if appointed and later discovered. Thus, every disabled person applying for employment in the State Sector is "potentially" damned by "potential discrimination" if they do declare and damned to non-appointment or dismissal if they do not declare.

How is that fair, equal or even just? Surely only the unjust could say that such is fair, just and ethical. Either impairments / disabilities mean nothing in the interview process and impaired people are capable in the assumed employment situation or they are not.

If disabled people are capable of carrying out the tasks and duties expected of them on appointment then the issue of ability or disability does not enter into the matter. Thus such does not need to be disclosed at any time during the interview process.

But then, how can those on an interview panel make an honest assessment if this information is kept from them?

Thus the SSC and Human Rights guidelines are in the same boat as the impaired candidate. Either are potentially damned if followed and either may be damned if not followed. This, both Graeme and I suggest to you is not then a fair, just, unbiased Equal Opportunity process that is workable. You cannot have the cake and eat it too. Can you not see that the recommendation is a self fulfilling discriminatory process?

 

For what purpose is the data collected at the time of appointment?

If we take the logical, ethical view that the data is collected to judge the Equal Employment Status of the Public Service Sector, then on what is this Status based? It is based only upon the number of disabled / impaired persons appointed to employment! But that data does not help in the claimed, "impartial, non-discriminatory employment processes" but only gives a percentage of current employees who declared an impairment or disability.

Consider:
If there are in abstract figures 15000 employees and 1500 of those have declared disability / impairment information, then this tells you that 10% of persons employed within the State Sector are impaired / disabled to any degree.

What it does not tell you is how many of those with a disability / impairment applying for positions were successful in the process of applying for all appointments made. The 10% employed information does not tell you, if the "employment process" is fair, just and non-discriminatory in all areas. Only those who are employed are taken into account, for all unsuccessful applicants data is not recorded and destroyed.

How can you then honestly and ethically say, "We are giving Equal Opportunity to All persons."

Again it seems to us that you cannot, for the "Opportunity" arises at interview and the process leading to appointment. Selection for appointment is after all the aim of every candidate, and appointment of the most capable and useful candidate is the aim of every employer. But the current disability data cannot ever give a true indication of the fairness, justness, impartiality or otherwise of the current employment processes.

 

The Fallacy of Statistical Data Collected on Appointment.

Consider:
If the data is collected for EEO purposes, then it is useless as such. For it cannot be collated against a data base of the number of persons applying for positions. But only against itself, those of other appointed applicants, or other agencies and organisations, both Governmental and non-governmental. To give a true, honest and ethical report one needs to examine the number (percentage) of appointments against the number of applicants with and without disability or impairment. Moreover, to give a true picture of any potential "discriminatory practices in any area, or department" that data must be examined for each department.

But is this data retained for this purpose? No it is not !!
It is collected, potentially used in a discriminatory manner and then destroyed!

Consider once More:
Using the hypothetical figures of 15,000 employees of whom 1,500 are impaired / disabled tells us that 10% of all employees are disabled / impaired.

That looks good, it reads good, and any employer could rightfully be proud in boasting of such. But it does not address the stated issue of "Equal Employment Opportunity." In fact the above figure could be totally misleading in this matter. Sure the figures can be broken down to show the percentages of persons employed within each department / agency. But that still can not and does not tell you if there are "discriminatory practices." To begin to obtain that information you need to examine the data of all applicants over a given period. (please note the following figures are hypothetical only.)

For Example:
Number of disabled / impaired applicants in the last year: 1200
Number of other applicants in the last year: 4200
Number of all applicants in the last year: 5400
Impaired / disabled persons employed: 40
Other persons employed: 1860
Total employed in the last year: 1900
Percentage of disabled successful applicants: 3.3%
Percentage of other successful applicants: 44.3%
Percentage of all successful: 35.2%

Now the "retained" data can begin to show you if the EEO policy is working: Something that it presently does not and can not do as unsuccessful application data is not retained.

1200 applicants with 40 employed tells you that 3.3% of impaired / disabled applicants were successful in gaining employment. Although that figure may appear good in comparison to all persons who applied and were appointed, the 3.3% of disabled is comparatively disproportionate.

As the 40 employed only equal 2.1% of the 1,900 new appointments in the last year, while 97.9% were persons without impairment or disability. Whereas the percentage of disabled applicants equalled, 22.2% of the total 5400.

Now theoretically if we are giving "Equal Employment Opportunity" the number of successful applicants among the disabled would be considerably more than 3.3% given that the number of disabled applicants exceeded 20% of the total number of applicants.

Here is the Crunch of the matter:
This "application information is gathered potentially used in a discriminatory manner and then destroyed." This data is not retained, for "Equal Opportunity Analysis Purposes." If the applicant is unsuccessful then all data is destroyed.

 

Misleading Information?

Thus, in our opinion it is clear that the retained "appointment data" is for no purpose other than to give a misleading and false impression to Government, to Self and the Public at large, that the State Sector is not discriminatory in it's employment process and practices.

Please understand clearly, neither Graeme or I are saying that State Services or any departments or agency is discriminatory in any employment process. We are saying, the data used by State Services and other Government departments does not and can not show nor prove that there is no discrimination in the Employment Process. The Employment process is flawed and the manner of collection as recommended in the SSC guidelines and apparently supported by the Human Rights Commission, is unworkable and a self fulling discriminatory process.

For the data used by SSC and other agencies to make this claim ignores every unsuccessful applicant. Such is unethical, unprofessional and as such breaches the SSC Code of Conduct guidelines on many levels. After all Opportunity does not equate to Appointment. The Opportunity given can only offer a fair, just and "Equal Opportunity if there are no discriminatory practices."

Either there is Equal Employment Opportunity or there is not, and based upon the current practices within Sate Services and those departments, agencies and organisations guided by the SSC guidelines, it does seem that the guidelines and current practices do not lead to any clearly verifiable Equal Employment Opportunity for many applicants, and all disabled / impaired applicants.

And therein resides the issues.

Counting numbers of disabled / impaired employees does not tell anyone if the employment process has been conducted, fairly, justly and without discrimination. All such counting does is give a misleading and false impression of impartiality. Such does not and can not show non discriminatory practices.

While following the current guidelines can only lead to what is clearly discrimination.

Yours,
Graeme Axford.
Malcolm Williams.

The previous is an extended and updated version of the previous page.
http://www.graemea.snap.net.nz/eeo_rights/eeo_hr_questions.html

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