Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why I disagee with equal opportunity forms

I've applied for a lot of jobs over the last few months and about the only thing that the application process has shared in common is that often the employer includes an 'equal opportunity' form with their application pack. I totally disagree with these forms and refuse to complete them. I do not feel that any of the information asked for or contained in such documents is of any relevance and I have a suspicion that they are often used for a company to ensure that they have the right 'quota' of different groups in the organisation. But why? An organisation doesn't have to employ a workforce that is extremely diverse. Surely, any offer of job to an individual should be based on their skills and whether they can actually do the job. It doesn't matter what colour their skin is, what their religious beliefs are or for that matter their sexual orientation. The latter I find the most offensive of questions asked on these forms. Why is it even relevant to a potential employer to know this information?

All these questions are ones which are personal to each individual and should have no bearing on the selection and interview process.

A good organisation will have a workforce that is made up of people that fit in with its cultures, values and can do the work for which they have been employed. It is irrelevant what disabilities they might have or what colour their skin is, if they can demonstrate the skills to get the job done.

I might well be being unduly cynical in all this but it is something that I feel strongly about. It seems to me that the questions on equal opportunity questionnaires are just another way of pre-judging people and being able to classify them into convenient boxes. Unfortunately as so often is the case, it is not possible to classify everyone into simple terms.

3 comments:

Carla said...

Mark, I have been on recruitment panels and it has been my experience that Equal Ops forms are sent to a separate department in human resources and are not seen by the recruitment panel. This information is gathered about who is applying for what roles, etc, but is not considered when selection is made because the information is not shared with the recruitment panel. I recently served as chair of the recruitment panel in hiring for two posts in the library service, and the equal ops forms came to me from the applicants sealed in envelopes and I forwarded them to HR. We never laid eyes on them.

Morandia said...

We have those forms in the US also. Fortunately they are optional. The worst form I ever had to fill out for a job was an "Oath of Loyalty to the United Stated". It included a clause that "I am not nor have I ever been a member of the Communist party". This was when I was in Louisiana. It was REQUIRED that I sign it to obtain a job! So much for speech and such...

Anonymous said...

I agree, equal ops forms suck. If you ignore them then they have to, in theory anyway, judge you on the app form alone, but they can still discriminate from that e.g. the local authority job form that conspicuously does not ask your age or date of birth but then expects you to fill in dates you were at secondary school. Equal ops is a joke.