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"A multi-cultural workplace"

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by JonnyMX, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Hi all.

    I wonder if anyone can shed some light on this for me.
    I've noticed of late that many job interviews (especially structured/competancy based) throw in a question about a multi-cultural workplace, especially for public-sector jobs.

    It usually goes something like 'as manager, how would you ensure you supported a multi-cultural working environment'.

    I'm never quite sure how to approach this kind of question.
    From my point of view, we're all the same and should all be treated the same irrespective of race, sex, religion, colour, regionality, accent - whatever. I've lived abroad a lot and grown up in very mixed-race schools etc, so I tend not to give these things a second thought. If someone needs a day off for religious/cultural reasons, all well and good as long as it's fair and I get a day off on Christmas.

    So my answer is usually along those lines. We're all the same and all deserve to be treated equally, so no big deal.

    Thing is, I'm not sure if that's the sort of answer they're looking for.

    Are they looking for something more conscious and pro-active? Should I be regularly screening the department to make sure we have an 'even' mix of races and disabilities? Should I be actively engaging and encouraging 'minorities' in the department?

    Now, to me, that second way sounds racist because it is effectively treating people differently. But, it's a world gone mad and there are all kinds of quotas and statistics to be met and monitored.


    So, does anyone out there have any thoughts about this?
    I'd be especially interested to hear from those who actually work in the public sector and might actually know the answer, but if anyone else wants to chip in with generic racial-equality stuff, then please feel free. :biggrin
     
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  2. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Too many employers now seem to be pursuing the "Active Discrimination" Route. Hiring people to fill quotas and ensure that they have an even mix of cultural representation. All in order to avoid lawsuits.

    Personally I'm with you. Hire the best person for the job, regardless of who that may be. Equality is all about giving people fair chance regardless of age, race, sex, etc. But beyond that its all on merit.
     
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  3. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

    I don't think that what we have now is what MLK had in mind when he spoke those words.

    My eyes roll when I hear the term "multi-cultural environment". But how would I ensure fairness in the workplace? Because I don't care how old you are, what color your skin is, or what gender you are... I care only that you are the best person for the job.
     
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  4. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    I'm with you guys.

    But, unfortunately I'm not entirely convinced that the 'just treat everyone the same' line is what they are looking for.

    I've worked in HR before and have seen the stats on ethnic diversity/disability/sex/religion etc and in order to keep things 'fair' this mix has to be managed to keep the bean counters happy.


    It strikes me that the two approaches are technically incompatible - so how do you phrase that in a politically correct way?
     
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  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    If that's not what they're looking for, then I'm the wrong person for the job.
     
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  6. j1mgg

    j1mgg Kilobyte Poster

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    Tell them what they want to hear.

    You will keep to what the going days percentages are and if you have to chop someone in half to meet that percentage you will. You dont care that they might be really good at their job if they dont meet that percentage they are for the chop.

    You will gladly hire people not capable of the job if it means it keeps them percentages correct.
     
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  7. soundian

    soundian Gigabyte Poster

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    Maybe I'm just being pedantic but the question asks how you would ensure you supported a multi-cultural working environment, not how you ensure you have one.
     
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  8. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Actually, no, I won't. Other people might, but I won't compromise my morals and integrity to fill quotas. I won't hire (or fire) a black man just because he's black, and I won't hire (or fire) a white man just because he's white.
     
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  9. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Indeed.

    It wasn't supposed to be an exact question - it's more about finding out what the preferred attitude is towards multi-cultural... er... ism. :blink

    But yes, that's a valid observation and I might be reading too much into it. Maybe the actual recruitment might be out of my hands.

    OK, to put the support spin on it, again, where do you pitch it?

    Do you respect everyone's rights to their beliefs and allow days off or other exceptions (such as dress code) for reasons of culture - or do you play the 'we're all the same and have to be fair' card?

    It just strikes me that these places must place a high importance on the answer because it is almost always asked. I went for a data management job at the council recently. They didn't ask about data protection, but they did ask about multi-culture work place.

    Or again, maybe I'm reading too much into it and it's just a question the have to ask to make sure they don't hire bigots or fanatical racists. That would be a real interview blunder, wouldn't it? Getting tripped into claiming your support for an Aryan nation... :eek:
     
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  10. soundian

    soundian Gigabyte Poster

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    Another interview blunder would be answering the wrong question, unless you're a politician where it seems mandatory to give an answer for a completely unrelated question.
     
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  11. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Yes, you've got me there.
    Fair play.

    :biggrin
     
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  12. Mariusz

    Mariusz Byte Poster

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    for me colour of skin or religion doesn't matter, but those people should know the tolerance as well, and for example If I eat meat during muslims ramadan, they should respect it, maybe according to their religion they can't eat meat, I can, same with Christmas postcards etc. It is a bull**** rule that companies should have equal amount of different races, if for example group of black or muslims would be better than group of white than I could have 100% of black people as employees and that's fine for me. the job should be given according to skills, education not according to race, and it is not racism, it is fact, giving somebody a job only because of colour of skin is stupid

    and a story from Leeds:
    me and my wife went to one of game shops, the shop alarm switched on and nobody bothered coz it is common, they switch on without a reason. a black guy (I hope I can still say it and it is not against law to call black person black) with white wife/girlfriend walked in in same moment and said on loud so all people in shop could hear it: "If it was me walking out they would jump on me" on the beginning I thought: maybe the guy is right, maybe he was treated wrong in the past only coz of the colour of his skin, poor guy. but after a while I thought, nobody would ****ing jump on him (I felt like he's insulting all the people in the shop calling them racists without even knowing them), tolerance is common and most of people don't look at the colour of skin anymore (at least I don't coz it matters for me what kind of man you are not what religion or race you represent), nowadays racism is often an excuse for black people to get what they want, they can be more racist than white people these days (of course not everybody, and sorry If I insulted somebody, I didn't mean)

    I can write few more stories like that:
    my sister in law was asked for a phone number by black guy, she said "no" so he called her "racist", like it was her duty to give him phone nr coz he's black - bollocks

    another one: my mate was walking from supermarket and accidently pushed black guy, the black guy said: "is it only because I am black?"

    when a man comes to live in another county should respect this country's rules, not break them and force local people to his point of view


    on the end if you didn't want to read what I wrote :-): everybody deserves same respect (not more and not less) no matter what is your race/religion and this is what I would say if I was asked on an interview even If it had to affect my interview
     
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  13. steve_p1981

    steve_p1981 Byte Poster

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    +1 to that. if you want to be a fair employer, go for the best man for the job. if you had an office that just had black people in because they were the best people for the job then fine. same should apply to white and asian people too, none of this quota rubbish. i'd rather have a guy that could do the job rather than getting someone who may not be as good just because you were told to. bring back common sense!
     
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  14. dblight

    dblight Bit Poster

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    My 2 pence's worth is everyone is the same, equal. Regardless of race, religion, colour etc etc. I wouldn't do anymore nor less for a white British employee than i would a black Asian employee. The way i understand it everyone gets the same and treated the same, the only issue seems to arise when questions like this are asked by employers etc etc.

    By them asking the question it seems they are putting a divide up?
     
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  15. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Some places (Like my local Uni) operate a system whereby if you meet the essential requirements for the role, and are disabled, you are guaranteed an interview. That really gets my goat. Screw that! I'm all for equal chances of getting an interview, but why should they get a slot just because they are disabled, when I have to fight for it solely on merit and take my chances like everyone else.

    Ultimately though, all this positive discrimination has backfired. The reason it existed in the first place was to address negative discrimination and deal with discriminatory mindsets. And as a tool to do this, it was perfect. Force employers to spend more time looking at minorities when they otherwise wouldnt. However, society has changed enough now, that I think it needs to be dropped in order to allow full equality to take place. Otherwise we go so far that whenever someone calls discrimination based on sex, age, race, etc, employers immediately offer compensation, or jobs to head it off.
     
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  16. dblight

    dblight Bit Poster

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    Sorry to say it but couldn't agree more
     
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  17. zet

    zet Byte Poster

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    Well that sucks. I hate to think I was going to be hired by a potential employer because I'm an ethnic minority. I'm going to be the token asian guy!
     
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  18. Mariusz

    Mariusz Byte Poster

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    well on the other hand, I was constantly getting a polite "NO" from agencies, finally after a year one of them invited me for an interview and was surprised that I can speak English fluently, because she thought that we can't speak English, and she can't understand what Polish people say to her, and I wrote her few times that I am not asking for the job, I am asking for a chance for an interview where I can prove my skills and knowledge. Men in agencies are more tolerant than women, they will call back, to talk, to see how you speak, what you can etc, and women will not answer at all, bloody ignorants

    but still wouldn't like any rules that each company needs 20% of Polish (probably each has over 20% anyway :-)) employees etc, because it would be stupid
     
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  19. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    Oh the irony... :rolleyes:
     
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  20. Mariusz

    Mariusz Byte Poster

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    well, I wrote it according to my experience with agencies :)
     
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