We ask politicians to examine the scientific evidence when drawing conclusions about climate change.
Researchers call for the return of the long-form census so that communities throughout Canada can make evidence-based decisions about developing and delivering services to residents. The argument is that "Good Decisions Need Good Numbers."
Yet, when the issue is equity in employment, the same argument isn't given the same attention.
This story calls for the City of Toronto, and by default all employers in the Toronto area, to ignore the evidence. The Toronto Sun wants organizations to commit to bold visions of diversity and inclusion, such as Toronto's "Diversity Our Strength," yet resist any action that would make these statements a reality.
The evidence tells us that the reality for women, racial minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities is persistent and systemic inequality in the labour market. The evidence also tells us that meritocracy -- that people are hired and promoted based solely on their skills and abilities to do the job -- is a myth.
Study after study shows that that equally qualified women, racial minorities, Aboriginal people and persons with disabilities lose out in the job market because of personal characteristics unrelated to their ability to do the job. The hard truth is that even in a region as diverse as the GTA, equity in employment does not exist for these groups.
There are many studies that provide evidence of discrimination in employment:
- Men are more likely to be hired than equally qualified women. In fact, women have to be three times as qualified as men to be seen as equally qualified for the job.
- Applicants with Black-sounding names (e.g. Latoya, Aisha, Jamal, Leroy) are 50% less likely to get called for an interview than applicants with White-sounding names (e.g. Kristen, Jill, Greg, Brad), despite presenting equivalent qualifications, skills and abilities on their resumes.
- Applicants with "ethnic" names, e.g. Chinese, South Asian and Greek names, are less likely to be invited for a job interview than those with Anglo names, regardless of whether they are educated in Canada or elsewhere. Based on their name alone, recruiters and hiring managers assume that the applicants are immigrants and do not have the language or social skills to do well in a Canadian workplace.
- Young Black males with no criminal record seeking entry-level jobs are no more likely to get a job than White applicants with criminal records just released from prison.
- A study shows that elite U.S. law firms, banks and management consultant companies hire based on cultural similarity and personal affinity -- even if it means passing over the best qualified candidate.
If fully qualified job applicants are being passed over based on personal characteristics that are unrelated to their ability to do the job, can we really say that the best qualified is being hired? The inconvenient truth is that discrimination persists in employment, which means that the best qualified isn't always hired.
The evidence also tells us that it makes good business sense for organizations to capitalize on the diversity of the labour market by making hiring decisions based on merit not personal characteristics. Numerous research studies tell us that organizations that are diverse and inclusive are better managed, stronger, more innovative and more creative.
So with all this evidence, why then would organizations not analyze their hiring and employment policies and practices to identify barriers and set targets to remove the historical impact of these barriers? Why wouldn't we want to identify discriminatory barriers to hiring qualified people regardless of their personal characteristics of race, gender, or disability? Why wouldn't we want to hire the best person for the job regardless of their gender, race or disability?
How long should public institutions continue to overlook the overwhelming evidence that hiring in Toronto, in the GTA, in Ontario and throughout Canada is not merit-based, that collecting data helps them understand the barriers and issues in the workplace, and that employment equity helps them make better hiring decisions based on merit?
Kudos to the City of Toronto for undertaking this work. We need more public sector organizations to bravely and boldly collect the data needed to make evidence-based decisions. They need to ignore or, if possible, educate those people who challenge their employment equity efforts -- the anti-vaxxers of society.
As in other aspects of life, it's time for an adult conversation that focuses on the evidence. The Earth is round. Vaccinations work. Climate change is real. And, discrimination in employment persists for women, racial minorities, Aboriginal peoples, and persons with disabilities.