Monday, August 25, 2008

In pursuit of excellence

One of the problems of allowing the Government to run anything is that they allow political biases to interfere with the smooth running of the organization. Take a look at these shocking statistics for the film and TV industries:

64% of production / script development are female
85% of camera technicians are male
85% of hair dressing / make-up are female
96% of sound / electrical technicians are male
80% of costume workers are female
97% of construction workers are male

How about these shocking statistics concerning race:
Animation is immensely popular among Japanese.
Black culture is strongly emphasized in the music industry.
Indian men as medical practitioners in the UK are proportionally ten times higher in comparison with white men.
Taxi drivers are over-represented among Asian men in the UK.
Waters in Chinese Restaurants are overwhelmingly ethnically Chinese.

As we have seen in the Olympics, sprinters are mostly black, divers are mostly yellow and swimmers are mostly white.

I post these facts because of a remarkable complaint by Rob Ager posted on his website

He applied for a training post at the BBC and was invited for an interview, only to be told when he showed up that there were no posts available. It turned out that the advertised posts were only for people from ethnic minorities. Strictly speaking positive discrimination is illegal in the UK under anti-discrimination law, but there are loopholes:

Targeting job training at people of particular racial groups, or either gender, who have been under-represented in certain occupations or grades during the previous 12 months, or encouraging them to apply for such work.
Providing facilities to meet any specific educational, training or welfare needs identified for a specific racial group.
Measures to provide training and special encouragement for returners to the labour market after a period of time discharging domestic or family responsibilities.
Special encouragement such as targeted advertising and recruitment literature, reserving places for one gender on training courses or providing taster courses in non-traditional areas.

The majority of the UK population is white (92%). The remaining 8% (4.6 million people) belong to other ethnic groups. What is striking is how the total UK picture differs from London. 7% of the national workforce is from a non-white background compared to 24% in London. However, in the film and TV industries, around 70% all employees work in London, but only 5% of the workers in this industry come from 'ethnic' backgrounds. Instead of targeting the 7% national figure, the industry seems to be trying to make the 30% London figure for ethnic employees. However, the film and TV industry is a national industry that just happens to be based in London. It does not have to rely on locals for its employees, any more than the Civil Service or the Stock Exchange do. All that racial discrimination does is deny opportunities to the whole of the population.

It is perfectly correct for there to be regulations that do not permit unfairness to operate in the market place, but we must be careful that we don't have regulations that prevent tall people from playing basket ball. I seem to remember a science fiction novel in which muscular people were forced to carry an 80 pound pack around, clear sighted people were condemned to wearing distorting spectacles and brainy people made to listen to disorientating music while they attempted to think - all in the cause of equality. Prizes were given for being average. If anyone remembers the novel let me know; I'd like to read it again.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember the science fiction story well. I did some checking and believe the story was named, 'Harrison Bergeron', by the famous writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Bergeron

The situation is indeed ridiculous. The whole idea of hiring and promoting on merit is just non-existent. We had one fellow at work who ran a small department of researchers. He had many years of experience, people came to him for advice and answers to technical and non-technical problems. After the manager retired, he was made interim manager.

When it came to make the position permanent, they chose a woman who was one of the worst workers in the unit, had been there for less than a year, and whom people avoided dealing with. She got the job!

She's Mexican, and the stated policy of the place is to make as many Mexicans management as soon as possible.

The fellow then quit and found a management position elsewhere. Meanwhile, the tensions in the unit have gone up and productivity has gone down. People come to me (outside of the unit) for computer help because she has no idea how to answer questions.

Management? Happy as clams.

Richard said...

That doesn't sound like science fiction to me, sounds more like a Labour party manifesto.