Letters of the week: equality lessons from South Africa

I have recently arrived in England after having lived and worked in human resources in South Africa, and I am surprised at how backward England is in comparison to South Africa, in terms of discriminatory practices. This extends not only to pay inequities between the sexes, but also to discrimination in terms of ageism and just a general mindset.

The study indicated in your article, “Female staff are still in second place in the promotional stakes” (News, 26 September), says “male managers’ perception of other men as breadwinners means they are reluctant to promote women who are of childbearing age”.

Since becoming a democracy, South Africa has emphasised the need for non-discriminatory practices via employment equity legislation, which encompasses all of the above and which makes it an offence to discriminate.

In coming to England I feel I am almost stepping back in time – something I had not imagined.

I think England is a wonderful place to live and I hope it catches up soon in terms of overcoming discriminatory practices such as those described in your article.

Perhaps employment equity law needs to be introduced here – the South African model would be a good starting point.


Sue Watt-Pringle, Via e-mail


 


Firsthand account of work sex bias


As a female HR manager I agree that male-dominated organisations are reluctant to promote women of childbearing age.

I was promoted into my current position three years ago only because I pushed for it. I was originally told unofficially that I did not have a chance and that an external candidate (all were male) would be appointed.

Eventually I was considered the best candidate but was asked what my intentions were with regard to children. For the record, I am single and of childbearing age and do not want to have children. I then became only the second female manager in an engineering organisation with 700 staff.

My HR director (male) is due to retire. I have expressed an interest in his post, but have been advised that I will not be considered with no reasonable explanation. I believe that had I been male I would be promoted into this role.


Name and address supplied


 

Glad we weren’t imagining things


I am pleased that Richard Staines’ report on the AHHRM conference (News, 26 September) confirmed Hugh Taylor’s comments about the NHS needing to mirror McDonalds’ HR practices. Many in the room thought they had suffered a temporary hearing defect.

Ironic that Hugh Taylor should be extolling the company in the same week that the press carries Tony Royle’s less than flattering article. Perhaps he is proposing that NHS HR managers should be aping Big Macs’ union-busting tactics from the US and Europe.

Can’t wait to get my peaked cap and competency stars. Was that with fries, sir?


Name and address supplied


 


Remark negates 30 years of work


As a woman who started her professional career in engineering and was an early participant in the Wise (Women into Science and Engineering) campaign, I read Philip Whiteley’s article, “21st century women turn away from their old roles”, with interest (Analysis, 26 September).

However, I was appalled at the comment attributed to Dinah Worman, equal opportunities adviser at the CIPD, which said, “most jobs that arise now are more suited to women; they are in the service sector”.

That someone who calls themselves an equal opportunities adviser can make such a discriminatory remark seems to me a negation of the effort that women (and men) like me have been making for the past 30 or more years.

We have been pressing for an individual to be assessed for a job, and to search for roles which match their capabilities, qualifications and aspirations, not their gender, race or any other “easy” categorisation.

Nursing, engineering and – dare I say it – HR management are all occupations which should be followed by those who can perform best in them.


Barbara Stephens, Chief executive, Local Government Commission for England

Comments are closed.