UK Liberty

If we are going to discriminate, let’s discriminate for the right reasons

Posted in Uncategorized by ukliberty on June 26, 2008

My moan today is prompted by Harriet Harman’s defence of her positive discrimination proposals, which is wrong and muddle headed on a few levels:

The Equality Minister Harriet Harman today defended controversial plans to encourage firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minorities job candidates.

Remember, discrimination in favour of one is necessarily discrimination against another.

The new Equalities Bill is also expected to force employers to disclose salary structures in a bid to make the pay gap between men and women more transparent.

Responding to criticism that the plans could discriminate against white men, Ms Harman said “you don’t get progress if there isn’t a bit of a push forward”.

What happened to “equality of opportunity”?

The minister told GMTV: “Most women are going out to work and they are just as committed to their jobs – the money that they earn is important to the household budget so they should be paid fairly.

They should be paid according to their market value, regardless of how important their pay is to the household budget. That is the fair way of doing it.

“Yet listen to this figure – if you are a woman working part-time you get 40% less per hour on average than a man working full-time.

“Now either this is because women are not up to the job or else there is discrimination against them. You can’t challenge discrimination when it’s kept swept under the carpet.

Or it’s because she is comparing apples with oranges: why on earth is male full time pay being compared to female part time pay? Is Harman suggesting that full time and part time workers are paid the same – that therefore the only difference is gender?  Well, she’s wrong, and should look again at the figures.

Is it because, as Tim Worstall suggested, such people want to squeeze the largest number they can from the dataset?

I repeat, if we’re going to discriminate, let’s discriminate for the right reasons.  Claiming there is a pay gap between male full time and female part time workers and therefore  we must discriminate against male full time workers in favour of female workers is just plain wrong.