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The latest news that a white English girl was declined a job on the grounds of her ethnicity has raised the debate over whether the quest for workplace diversity has been taken too far. Abigail Howarth was told by the Environment Agency that it was not worth her submitting an application for their training programme as it was aimed at ethnic minority groups, which included individuals who were white Welsh, Scottish or Irish, but not English.

The recruitment agency handling the position defended the move saying it was justified and was to address imbalances in the organisation. Leading recruitment industry figure Nigel Lynn of the Carlisle Group says “I think it’s definitely important to have equality in the workplace and a diverse staff. The workforce should have employees from a variety of backgrounds to achieve a wider understanding of people’s needs.” However he declares that the mania surrounding diversity has got out of hand. “Firms need the best candidates to run an efficient business irrespective of their ethnicity. Quotas are outdated and totally unworkable and the quest for equality has gone mad. There’s a fine line between encouraging diversity and discrimination.”

Sikin Andela from Glovers solicitors agrees: “Positive discrimination in favour of a particular category of persons on the grounds of race is exactly the same as discrimination against all the people who are not in that category. For this reason, it is covered by the usual rules and will generally be illegal. There are exceptions, however if it’s true that the Environment Agency had no evidence that white Welsh, Scottish or Irish workers were under-represented it is possible that their actions are not protected by the law.”

Nigel Lynn adds “With so many rules we seem to have forgotten the point, which is that the talented people we need to recruit come from different backgrounds and it is all about offering these people the best opportunities. We need to remember that brains don’t have a colour.”

Sam Woodward
BlueSky PR
0845 1308290

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