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Inequality and HR

Labour Market Failure in South Africa

Are South African Human Resource Management trends contributing to equality or inequality?

In 2018, the World Bank reported that South Africa had the highest levels of income inequality in the world.  Is your organisation operating according to fair policy promoting equality?

Business Policy, Power and Inequality

Are firms using social media to try normalise an abuse of power during recruitment?

Applicants are often forced to disclose privileged wage information to the detriment of both their own and their former or current employer economic rights.

Inequality isn’t an abstract

Prejudice can enter the employment value chain during recruitment and worker’s future wage negotiation processes.

This is made possible because the prejudice reinforces and conforms to (unequal) perceptions of power.

In other words, when business says it doesn’t have to disclose, most of us simply accept that it’s the way it is without questioning it.

Recruitment adverts ambiguous about pay are an example of an abuse of power.

Most people fail to grasp why it’s wrong to withhold salary information till you force them to explain why it’s right.

They then realise it’s only ‘right’ if a job applicant is willing to brush their rights to fairness aside.

Unethical firms want the public to believe they are entitled to withhold information. They rely on applicants willingly submit, if they don’t comply,  candidates are removed from the selection process.

The omission of pay ranges gives the employer greater leverage during wage negotiations. Few applicants question employer ethics as they want to avoid compromising their application.

Inequality, discrimination, prejudice and exploitation is ever present in the labour market because the field of HR in South Africa fails to challenge or correct disempowering constructs.

If business leaders are serious about equality and ethics, they must review HR systems and corporate policy.

If policy is key to organisational conduct, ethical employers should publish  policies to show they conform to a democratic society.


Ask yourself: If industry operates in a way that is anti-society, should we allow it?


Unfair Information Advantages

Are decisions made to identify talented applicants who will settle for low wages?

Economics and Evidence

Economic patterns are based on human behaviors.

Income inequality is an economic pattern showing how people are paid differently and illustrates who is paid high and low. The ‘who gets paid what’ is not just shown in terms of jobs, but who the people are in terms of:

  • gender
  • age
  • colour
  • geographic location etc

Income inequality data therefor provides explicit information about who is most likely to suffer in a prejudiced labour context:

  • Women
  • Black people

There is a wealth of evidence proving that prejudice exists in the employment value chain, fostering income inequality and growing the working poor.

HR policy decisions must be robustly scrutinised and brought in line with the Constitution.

Companies have access to volumes of information regarding organisational ethics, income inequality and human rights – time to tap in!


‘Equity’ and BEE 

BEE is an effort to reduce discrimination and accelerate black mobility within the labour force.

Solutions to discrimination are both horizontal and vertical:

  • Horizontal Equity – all are equal, the Constitution upholds this but makes allowances for BEE
  • Vertical Equity – laws (e.g. BEE) promoting preferential treatment for certain groups with the objective of undoing discrimination

Contact Leonie if it’s time for change or challenge!

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