Employment Equity – A Global Perspective

Posted by Transcend
Thursday, 5 October 2017  |  Comments

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It is that time of the year when Employment Equity and affirmative action measures are evaluated in preparation for the submission of EEA reports to the Department of Labour. Save for best intentions it is also this time of year that is usually met with sighs, eye rolls and anxiety.

Equity/ equality based laws and policies are not unique to South Africa. As much as we would like to believe that we thought of it first, inequality and discrimination is a concept almost as old as time itself and an issue that has been addressed by the United Nations since its inception in 1945.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention number 111 in respect of Discrimination pertaining to employment and occupation was adopted by the Geneva convention in 1958 with countries like Iraq, Liberia, Tunisia, Norway and Portugal enforcing it as soon as 1959. Currently there are 187 countries that are members of this convention.

The term “affirmative action”, as we understand it today, was first used by the US President, J.F. Kennedy in an executive order in 1961. Other countries followed suit and today affirmative action is also known as “employment equity” in South Africa and Canada, “reservation” in India and Nepal and “positive action” in the UK.

Certain countries have implemented government policies to address historical inequalities pertaining to the entry into employment or education by previously disadvantaged groups based on either gender, (i.e. France, Norway, UK, Sri Lanka,), race (i.e. SA, USA, Brazil), religion (i.e. Northern Ireland), demographic location (i.e. France, India), language (i.e. Finland) and origin (i.e. NZ, Australia, Malaysia) to name a few.

In short, affirmative action is alive and well and on the rise around the world. Indeed, some of the most creative discussions and innovations are happening outside South Africa.

This article was written by Maryke du Plessis. Should you require more information on Employment Equity and affirmative action measures as well as other service offerings, please do not hesitate to contact us on 011 442 2433.

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