Trevor Phillips’ push for positive discrimination dismissed as unworkable by business

Diversity tsar Trevor Phillips’ bid for positive discrimination to be legalised has been dismissed by businesses.

Phillips, head of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, last week insisted “special measures” were needed to ensure diversity in certain professions.

It seems likely that Phillips will call for a change in the law to allow positive discrimination when he reports to government in the New Year as chairman of the Equalities Review.

But Susan Anderson, director of HR policy at the CBI, told Personnel Today that business did not want the powers.

“In our view, positive discrimination means not recruiting on the basis of ability,” she said.

“It may be needed in exceptional circumstances, such as in the police and the security services, but we would not want to see it extended into mainstream business.”

More than eight in 10 respondents to Personnel Today’s barometer question said positive discrimination should not be legalised.

But Phillips said last week: “There are problems we have yet to find the tools to crack – where we may need to go beyond the reach of the current law.

“We have to consider whether, when there is a clear public need, we must allow our institutions – even if temporarily – to take special measures with the aim of integrating their workforces faster than would otherwise be the case.”


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