Monitoring proving popular with most organisations

Anyone
who thinks that equal opportunities monitoring is simply a mechanism for
employers to pay lip service to the politically correct lobby is in for a
surprise, according to research in IRS Employment Review.

The
study reveals that three out of four large organisations already use monitoring
and just as many plan to extend their systems significantly in the coming
months.

It
finds that organisations should also monitor older workers in advance of new
legislation to outlaw discrimination on grounds of age.

The
three key factors driving change on monitoring in the workplace are data
protection regulations, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act and the EC
Employment Directive. 

While
sex, race and disability discrimination legislation is already in place, age
should also be included among the ‘big four’ personal characteristics on which
discrimination is likely to be found. 

The
key findings of the research 
conducted in late 2002 and early 2003 – are based on responses from HR managers
in the private, public and voluntary sectors. 

Other
findings include: 

Why
do employers monitor?


Effective equal opportunities policies and procedures is the most common  reason (32 employers out of 37 selected this
reason);


Effective employment practices in general – for example, ensuring the best
person for the job is appointed (29 out of 37 organisations agreed with this
reason);


Senior management or head office insist on monitoring systems, such as Best
Value Performance Indicators for local authorities.

Who
is monitored?


People can be monitored at three stages of their working life – before they
join an organisation, while they are employees and when they leave.


Interviewees are monitored but 9 in 10 interviewers are not.

What
is monitored? (comparing potential employees with the existing workforce)


Sex – 33 out of 37 organisations monitor the gender of their existing
workforce, while 34 employers monitor job applicants;


Race – 31 organisations monitor their workforce compared with 34 employers
collecting data on job applicants;


Disability – 29 workforce – 30 applicants (Although legislation covering
disability discrimination is relatively new, the levels of monitoring are
comparatively high);


Age – 24 organisations monitor their workforce but just 18 monitor
applicants.  This figure is almost half
of those listed for sex and race monitoring.


A minority of employers monitor for bias in the following areas: appraisals,
training, basic pay, bonuses, grievances, discipline, dismissals and
redundancy.

What
happens to the data?


Two-thirds of respondents make regular reports using the data – on a quarterly
or annual basis.  Four in 10 use ad hoc
reports.


Only one in four employers currently make use of targets.

IRS
Employment Review managing editor Mark Crail said: “Employers need to put some
effort into monitoring equal opportunities and diversity in their organisations
– both to protect themselves against tribunal claims and to ensure their
policies are working. Monitoring can also help identify other problems – high
sickness absence levels in one department, for example, may indicate an
underlying problem such as a bullying manager or excessive workload.”

By Ben Willmott

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