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Graemea & CYF New Zealand

Graeme Axford documents his Employment dispute with Child Youth & Family, (CYF) New Zealand

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Service Stat Commission and
Equal Employement Opportunity

I believe that the State Services Commission oversees the Equal Employment Opportunities policy and Data from Government Departments as one of their many roles and functions. As I could not get any since out of Child Youth and Family's approach to gathering, recording and measuring that success of this policy I emailed the Commission. This email and is responses proves that the governments own EEO policy is floored and not worth the paper it is written on.

From: Graeme Axford
Sent: Tuesday, 12 December 2006 3:55 p.m.
To: Reception
Subject: EEO information, I think it is floored?

Dear State Services Commission

I have some concerns about the way in which some Government departments gather their EEO information as I think it is floored and this is why.

As an example I asked why in the application pack it had and EEO form asking for questions about Gender and ethicality but not disability. This is the section of interest in answer to those questions.

I received this reply from the department

There is a view that, as issues of any disability are not known to the selection and interview panel the likelihood of any discrimination on disability grounds is reduced. There is strong guidance within the Public Service, based on the Human Rights Act, that asking questions about disability in the early stages of the recruitment process could lead to an assumption of discrimination.

Ok, that is an interesting way of looking at it and to me it does not make sense:

Example:
As you can not truly judge ethnically by skin color asking such pointed questions about ethnic groups as on the EEO feedback form at an early stages could create the same appearance of bias if I apply that logic to it full extent.

It also asks in the application form it specially asks;

In addition to other information provided are there any other factors that the department should know to assess your suitability for appointment and ability to do the job?

As the department pointed out if someone has a disability that could affect their job performance it should noted at that point so they interview panel would no one would think making the expiation from the department letter as quoted above complete nonsense in my view.

I would also have thought in order to see if an EEO policy was working you would need to record the information from the application processes through to either employment or the job seeker being advised they were unsuccessful.

If an interview panel meets with someone during that process they can determine someone general idea of race, ethnically, gender and disability if they are skilled by the type of answer given and background information provided by the applicant.

The way the departments gather the EEO information with only successful applicants being asked seem to make a mockery of the concept. People can slip through the gaps of this policy and no one would no.

This current EEO policy can be likened to judging the success of school in a subject based on those who passed the exam as apposed to those we sat the exam and failed to pass.

The basic concept of a EEO policy is that no employer can discriminate on the grounds of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, disability and alike. That all position is advertised and the best person will get the position.

Can you see what I am getting at as I have dyslexia so hope this all comes out clear enough for you to see my point and understand? If you think I am wrong I would like to no why as I could well be.

I have no put my address as I would like an answer via email please so I can use a screen reader.

Cheers
Graeme Axford

 

Reply from Terisa Watters

---- Original Message ----
From:Terisa.Watters
Sent: Monday, 18 December 2006 12:11 p.m.
To: Graeme Axford
Subject: EEO information flawed
Importance: High

Good Morning Graeme
Thank you for your email.

The department's legal responsibility in making an appointment is to give preference to the person who is best suited to the position, as required by section 61 of the State Sector Act. In doing this the department is entitled to take account of all factors that are relevant to the question of whether someone is the best suited person, and to an applicant's ability to do the job.

The department must be aware of the Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination in employment on the grounds prohibited by that Act, with the exception that an employer is entitled to ask about factors, including disability that might impact on performance and the ability to perform the job as well as to see if any particular equipment might be needed.

As you have told us, the department did ask for other information that it should know to assess an applicant's suitability for appointment and ability to do the job.

Collection of EEO information after appointment is important as it informs a workforce profile that feeds into HR processes.

If you are still concerned about the fact that you were not appointed to the position you could ask the department, under section 23 of the Official Information Act, for reasons for the decision not to appoint you.

Finally I suggest that if you have any other questions you should take them up with the Chief Executive of the department.

Regards

 

Reply from Graeme Axford

From:Graeme Axford
Sent: Tuesday, 19 December 2006 10:56 a.m.
To: WATTERS, Terisa
Subject: RE: EEO information flawed
Importance: High

Hi Terisa

Thank you for the reply it was excellent and easy to understand compared to answers I received from other sources.

With the exception that an employer is entitled to ask about factors, including disability that might impact on performance and the ability to perform the job as well as to see if any particular equipment might be needed. As you have told us, the department did ask for other information that it should know to assess an applicant's suitability for appointment and ability to do the job.

If an interview panel is made aware of a disability of the aforementioned reasons then why is the question on disability omitted from the EEO feedback form.

Given the need for transparency and the fact questions on gender, ethnicity are asked why not disability?

If an interview panel is aware of a disability that could impact on someone's functioning and job performance at the time of application then it would seem there is no reason for it being omitted from the EEO application feedback form.

Given the panel would no of such circumstances under these conditions as stated in your quote above the fact the interview panel would be aware but it is not recorded on the EEO feedback form in itself could open the panel interview up for the suggestions of discrimination,

I would have though having disability acknowledged as it would need to be given it could impact on performance it should then be recorder on both the job application form and the EEO feedback form which would protect the panel. It could also be analyzed to see if the EEO policy is working and people are being treated fairly.

As an example let's consider Census Ethnic Groups.
On the Census form it has a wide range of ethnic groupings listed and just incase anyone is missed out ask (Other) then gets the person to specify what that is.

That means if your ethnic group is not identified on the list you can write it in and have it added.

If that other section was omitted from the Census from with in the Ethnic Grouping questions, how would anyone be able to record or no who they are and that they exist.

If the other question was taken out of the Ethnic section I would consider this to be disenfranchising. In order for the Census to be accurate it needs to count the whole population and not just those it can be bothered to mention within its groupings listed. Now if an EEO policy.

So if you don't ask someone at that time of application to record on and EEO feedback form if they have a disability therefore it is not recorded how could you no they tried. The World Health Organization and statistics New Zealand have a definition of what a disability is so it's not that hard of a question to ask one would think.

Does the State Services Commission think it is acceptable practice to ignore people with disabilities by not acknowledging them on the EEO feedback forms at the time of application?

Or to put it in another way it would be like entering a race and only the top three people are counted every time. Surely you would want to no how many people entered and finished and those who were unable to complete the race. As I put it last time it would be like judging the exam results based on those who passed rather then taking into account the total number of people who sat the example and also failed.

How can the State Services Commission possibly know if people with disabilities are being treaty fairly or not if they never ask the questions?

Or to put it more simply in my case because I have a disability and did not get offered a position and the question about disability was not asked that factor would not appear in the EEO statistics. How can you judge if an EEO policy is working given the question about disability is not asked therefore not recorded to judge the policy against?

Having only successful applications answer the questions on disability does not seem logical to me. Surely you would want to know about all applications.

If a disability prohibits someone for getting a position then you would never no they tried and failed. I don't see how it is ok to ask about gender and ethnicity but not disability in this day and age. I think that is totally wrong and needs to change.

Remember the issues over NCEA when parents complained NZQA were only going to publish the results from those who passed, and would not release information on those who failed. Parents wanted to compare results for individual schools against each other to see which one was the best and why.

I would think the same logic would apply to the EEO policy. In order to judge if it working you would need all government departments to gather then record the information to make it available. Then compare what was working and what didn't thus make improvements if or where needed.

I do realize I have gone on a bit but need to try and make it clear why I object to the disability questions being omitted from the EEO application feedback form given a interview panel would no about it anyway as you clearly outlined.

I think by adding the disability question you protect everyone and then have an idea on what's happen given disability issues is known anyway but not asked on EEO application forms or record.

Cheers
Graeme Axford

 

Reply from Terisa Watters

---- Original Message ----
From:Terisa.Watters

Sent: Thursday, 21 December 2006 10:14 a.m.
To: Graeme Axford
Subject: EEO information flawed
Importance: High

Good Morning Graeme
Thank you for your comments and we will take them into account in future work in this area.

Regards

 

Reply from Graeme Axford

Hi Terisa
I am sorry if I appear pedantic but after working in advocacy for 8 years I learnt sometime I have to be.

Just because someone says we will take them into account in future work in this area. That does not mean things will change.

I could take different views into account but in the end ignore them which would mean nothing has changed.

As an example, I Christian minister told me he would take into account the view of same sex couples in his church, I asked him what conclusion he comes to after hearing the people's ideas which were add odds with his.

The minister said I took the view into account and nothing will change as the church is set in its ways, that just because you hear someone does not mean you agree nor have any intention on changing your position. Its like someone told me about public consultation we have to legally do it but we already have an agenda worked out.. One can hear but not listen and as a result not change anything.

Does that mean you agree with me, I was going to take the issue up with the Minister Hon Ruth Dyson and Human Rights Commission to make sure it was added in future because I want to no how many people with disabilities have applied for position and a department and then how many got employed? At the moment it would see no one has any idea as its not recorded.

You would only no about the successful applicants. Yet the ironic thing is the interview panel would have know if it affects the applicant's ability to perform their job.

There seem to be no transparency or safeguards in place to insure the questions on how an disability or impairment is used for an or against the interviewee.

I found out most interview results are destroyed once a successful appointment has been made so even now there would be no way of ever checking up if it was not record on a EEO feedback form. In other words the SSC could have no idea if the EEO policy was working for people with disabilities or impairments and that government agencies were treating them fairly as a result.

If 10:000 people applied for a position at different government agencies and a average 15% had a disability or impairment and out of that number only 5% ever got employed the SSC would only ever no about the 10% who made it. The other 5% would never be know about that would mean that the EEO policy. To me that would not be good odds

Can you please sent me a copy of the new forms and layout if things are going to change so I can see how the question is going to be asked and compare that with the World Health Originations and statistics NZ forms. I am going to use this for a paper I will be doing via distance learning.

Have a good Christmas.
Cheers
Graeme

Still awaiting a reply

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