Demonstrably Fair Employment

Demonstrably Fair Employment

June 10, 2021

You are coming out of college, benefits or a job and are applying for a position. Then you want the same chances on the labour market as everyone else. In practice, however, there are many shades of grey and tolerance for dishonesty is decreasing every year. But it is not going fast enough, nor does it happen automatically. New legislation gives us a leg up in taking the necessary next steps to actually create equal opportunities in the labour market.

In 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement was born in response to a shooting incident in which a white police officer killed an African-American teenager. From then on, similar incidents hit the media every year, teaching the general public that discrimination is culturally deep-rooted. An all-time low: the death of George Floyd in 2020 as a result of being choked by a police officer's neck clamp. After this event, millions of people worldwide took to the streets for months on end to plead with their political and social leaders for equal treatment of all citizens.

Now a little closer to home. In 2019, Archie, son of Prince Harry and Meghan, was born. Despite the happy event, some members of the British royal family expressed their concerns about the skin colour of the youngest member. The affair escalated and the young family renounced royal duties and moved to Canada. Institutional racism is now receiving a great deal of attention in the United Kingdom and this awareness has resulted in a movement to encourage governments and businesses to take concrete measures against all forms of discrimination.

The countries of the European Union did not stand by and watch these movements. Here too, citizens have taken to the streets in large numbers. In addition, there have been several legislative proposals, for example by the European Parliament for equal pay for men, women and non-binary people, and by the Dutch Parliament for the obligation of organisations to explicitly and demonstrably take measures against discrimination in the employment process (in addition to the civil rights already described in the EU Charter and Dutch law ).

From bans to measures

It is logical to think that the law already has many instruments to combat discrimination, but that is not the end of it. Discrimination has conscious and unconscious variants. Conscious discrimination is the transgression of social standards. This is easily recognised and public indignation is ruthless. Unconscious discrimination, however, has to do with attitudes, attitudes and behaviour of people that are ingrained and have thus become part of the culture. The use of words in job advertisements, the type and amount of information that an interviewer has available in advance about an applicant, the nature and form of questions asked, all have the potential to contribute to biased employment. Individuals are not aware of it, but science shows unconscious biases that recruiters, hiring managers and intermediaries do have and colour their judgements about candidates.

The legislator also sees this and makes relevant additions to existing legislation in order to force organisations to think about how to counteract discrimination in the labour market. After all, we want to get rid of glass ceilings, unequal opportunities when applying for jobs, homogeneous managements and boards and unequal pay.

Future obligation or present opportunity

With its proposed legislation, the legislator actually says "you can no longer hide behind 'I didn't know my employees were unknowingly discriminating'". With this, she obliges organisations to take measures against conscious and unconscious discrimination and to report about it. The next debate is not expected to take place before autumn 2021 and the law will only come into force in the second half of 2022 at the earliest. However, the direction is already clear and organisations can already anticipate it. Organisations can even use it to distinguish themselves and embrace social pressure as an engine for innovation.

Parts of this blog were previously published in our white paper. Are you interested in learning more about the main features of the proposed law with our plain language explanations? Request our white paper: