Experts caution: government is overlooking equality in the workplace

30th May 2010

Already charged with not being proactive enough, the coalition government must now address equality and diversity, indicating that minority groups must secure professional development and workforce presence for themselves.

In an interview with Personnel Today, CEO of the Network for Black Professionals Robin Landman said there seemed to be no impetus on the part of the new Liberal Democrat-Conservative government to confront inequality or lack of diversity in the workplace. 

"The early signs,” he claims, “are not good that this will be a priority for them - there's not going to be much change.”

The diversity issue is complicated by Parliament itself, with only 4% of the recent MPs having an ethnic minority or black background. Only 1% of Parliamentarians are disabled.

If the government intends to chip away at the national deficit by wresting funds used in the public sector, Landman says it may slash budgets used to fund training, as well as deplete subsidies to programs that develop work experience and skill sets for minority workers. Landman says working minorities will be left only the choice to dig into their own pockets to secure the training needed for career advancement.

"The money is going to run out,” Landman warns, adding that if minority workers will be left to fend for themselves they must be ready “to do what we need to do to get ahead."
With more than half a decade of sizeable cuts to the public sector likely, Landman warns that “there’s not going to be the amount of money there to help positive action interventions,” and that minority workers should obtain training and experience any way they can in the hopes of increasing their employability.

Herman Ouseley, a previous executive chairman for the Commission for Racial Equality, agrees with Landman’s desire for workers to take their training into their own hands, saying that the policies on equality in place now are less substance than style.

Ouseley says the £6.2bn in public sector cuts are a harbinger, not the end, and that minority workers must quickly realize their future is in their own hands. "We can't just sit back and think things will get better.”

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