Equality, Diversity and Disadvantage in Employment

By Mike Noon; Emmanuel Ogbonna | Go to book overview

5 Age and Carer
Discrimination in the
Recruitment Process: Has
the Australian Legislation
Failed?

Lynne Bennington

The importance of equal opportunity and workforce diversity has been advocated for many years both for economic and social reasons. With the imminent aging of the workforce, and the increasing numbers of people with carer responsibilities who need or wish to work, the understanding, detection and subsequent removal of discrimination in employment is of critical importance to an egalitarian society. Despite the fact that discrimination may occur at many points in the employment process, most of the research has focused on the interview stage (Barber et al., 1994). Given that employers regard age as a significant factor in the recruitment phase (Arrowsmith and McGoldrick, 1996), this chapter will examine discrimination on the basis of age as well as carer status in the recruitment process.It will conclude by questioning whether the anti-discrimination legislation in Austrialia has failed.

The effectiveness of legislation is always difficult to measure due to the wide range of variables which might act to influence any outcome, but it is particularly difficult when there is limited baseline (or pre‐ legislation) data against which post-legislation data can be compared. The measurement issue is exacerbated in this case because many discriminatory practices do not readily lend themselves to observation (Neckerman and Kirschenman, 1991).

A variety of methods have been used to try to establish the existence of discrimination. For example, economists have typically pointed to unexplained differences in compensation or employment between various groups as evidence of discrimination (Ashenfelter and Oaxaca, 1987). Other social science research methodologies have produced indirect evidence from attitude surveys, self-report and qualitative studies

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