Blatant workplace racism fading worldwide: UN

But firms still have lots of work to do, especially when it comes to women

Blatant racism in the workplace has faded in many countries, but women, ethinic minorities and other groups are still facing prejudice that is stopping them from reaching their full potential, according to the UN labour agency.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), in a report entitled Time for Equality at Work, said most governments around the world have recognized racism and discrimination as a problem in the workplace. Juan Somavia, the chief of the ILO, said formal condemnation of racism is “virtually universal” but that such discrimination is a moving target.

The report said many individuals of minority groups — including black Americans, Australian Aborigines, Gypsies in Europe or people at the bottom of the caste system in India and Nepal, have benefited from anti-discrimination measures.

But the study found that, even when such rules are in place, most minorities work in lower-skilled or lower-paid jobs than the majority, even if they possess the same level of education.

Other findings from the study

•Governments should do more to convince employers that ending discrimination makes good business sense.

•In the U.S., firms with affirmative action programs tended to have more efficient recruitment procedures.

•In developing countries, discrimination is undermining social and political stability and impacting economic growth.

•In most countries, companies are no longer allowed to state in advertisements that they refuse applications because of gender or race.

•Women, who make up about 67 per cent of the world’s labour force, are by far the largest group being discriminated against.

•Laws on equal pay for women don’t go hand-in-hand with genuine equality in access to employment.

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