Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bonkers Box Tickers

Abigail- still smiling despite discrimination

"A teenage science student has been banned from applying for a training programme with the Environment Agency because she is white and English.

The recruitment agency handling the scheme told Abigail Howarth, 18, that there was no point in her submitting an application because of her ethnic background.

But bizarrely she could have applied if she had been white and Welsh, Scottish or Irish." (Daily Mail)

This morning BBC R4 Today interviewed somebody from the Environment Agency about their extraordinary ethnic quota system, which openly and outrageously discriminates against native born white English applicants.

"Our hands are tied", was the response. "Under current legislation we are forced to behave in this blatantly racist manner".

Well, OK, their spokeswoman... sorry, spokesperson... didn't quite use those words. But that's what she said.

As we know, all public sector organisations have to tick a lot of these boxes. They need to demonstrate action- positive discrimination- to address all manner of supposed imbalances among their employees. Sod doing the job- the priority is to achieve the right ethnic, sex, and disability mixes.

It turns out the £1.1bn pa Environment Agency is way behind on its ethnic mix targets. Their Annual Report says:

"At the beginning of 2005 only 1.6 per cent of our workforce were from BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) groups. Through a proactive recruitment strategy we have increased the number of our employees from BME groups by one-third and BME employees now make up 2.7 percent of our workforce. In 2006-07 we recruited 109 BME starters against a target of 94. The net increase (allowing for starter and leavers) for the year was 54, which, although lower than our aspirational target of 80, is nevertheless our highest annual increase to date." (p 19)

So they're going hell for leather to tick the BME box. But take a good look at those figures- 109 recruits, but a net increase of only 54. Looks like massive turnover with maybe half of BME joiners leaving again very quickly.

That's what happens when you recruit people so you can tick boxes, rather than picking the most suitable applicants for the actual job.

Meanwhile we punters have to keep paying.

Better stock up with sandbags.

Update: Eagle-eyed A Reader has kindly emailed to point out there's something very peculiar about the EA's numbers for BME staff- "If the size of the workforce is constant, then increasing the BME numbers by one third gets one from 1.6% to just over 2.1%. The only way such an increase in BMEs could get one to 2.7% is if the total workforce size had been reduced by more than 20% over the same time period." We know that hasn't happened, so it looks like they can't add up either. Although I think we'd sort of guessed that a while ago.

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