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Good Practice Note: Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity (January 2006)

Good Practice Note: Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity (January 2006)

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Published by IFC Sustainability
The Good Practice Note on Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity sets out the international provisions of non-discrimination in the workplace and draws on good practice examples to indicate circumstances where companies may take positive action both to prevent discrimination and encourage previously alienated or overlooked groups to participate in the labor market. The Good Practice Note provides guidance to IFC clients and other employers in emerging markets on promoting both equality and diversity, and overcoming discriminatory practices, while acknowledging that this can often be a controversial and difficult topic.
The Good Practice Note on Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity sets out the international provisions of non-discrimination in the workplace and draws on good practice examples to indicate circumstances where companies may take positive action both to prevent discrimination and encourage previously alienated or overlooked groups to participate in the labor market. The Good Practice Note provides guidance to IFC clients and other employers in emerging markets on promoting both equality and diversity, and overcoming discriminatory practices, while acknowledging that this can often be a controversial and difficult topic.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: IFC Sustainability on Jun 29, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/11/2014

 
Good Practice Note
Non-Discriminationand Equal Opportunity
What’s Inside?
2 The Business Case for Diversity4 Where Discrimination Can Occur6 Standards on Non-Discrimination7 International Instruments10 Types of Discrimination12 Maternity and Other Family Rights14 Harassment16 Migrant Workers18 HIV/AIDS20 How Companies Can Make a Difference24 Acknowledgments and Useful References
Environment and Social Development Department
Page One
T
he concepts of non-discrimination and equalopportunity have for decades been part of  the international community's key principles.Enshrined in numerous international instruments,including conventions of the United Nations and theInternational Labor Organization, these conceptsare rooted in universal principles of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and equality. In today'semerging markets, companies that seek to beleaders and set examples of corporate socialresponsibility while building a productive anddiverse workforce must address issues of discrimination in the workplace. Businesses thatsucceed in doing so act decisively to eliminatediscriminatory practices and create the conditions for diversity and equality of opportunity and treatment in employment, often going beyond whatis required of them by national law. Employers whoadopt such approaches may derive a number of business advantages, including penetration of newmarkets, improved employee morale, a wider poolof talent from which to recruit, reduced exposure to legal challenges, and reputational benefits. (For more on The Business Case for Diversity, see p. 2.)Both non-discrimination and equal opportunity arerooted in the principle that all employmentdecisions are based on the ability of the individual todo the job in question without regard to personalcharacteristics that are unrelated to the inherentrequirements of the work. Conversely,discrimination in employment can be defined as anydistinction, exclusion or preference which has theeffect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation, and is made on the basis of personalcharacteristics, including race, color, gender, religion,political opinion, national extraction or social origin,disability, age, sexual orientation, and/or HIV status.Discrimination can take many forms and can affectboth access to employment and the treatment of employees once they are employed. It may bedirect or indirect, and arise in a range of industrysectors and cultural settings. Given the complexity of  the challenge, the Good Practice Note seeks to helpIFC clients and the wider private sector increase their understanding of the issue in a number of keyareas, including: recognition of the various types of discrimination; how and where it can occur in the workplace; obligations under national law and other international provisions; practical approaches andoptions for addressing workplace discrimination; and the benefits derived from diversifying the workforce. While tackling these issues can be sometimescontroversial and difficult, particularly in an emergingmarket context, there are a growing number of companies engaged in good practice efforts that maygo beyond their legal obligations with respect tonon-discrimination. These businesses are activelyreaching out among the communities in which theyoperate to create opportunities for previouslyalienated groups to participate in the labor market.Good Practice Note | January 2006 | Number 5
 
The German chemical company BASF seeks touphold equal opportunities for all, irrespective of sexor color, in all its operations. This principle is of particular importance within its operations in Brazil,a country forged out of diverse cultures, where blackpeople and women, in particular, are sometimesconstrained in their educational and employmentopportunities.This is reflected in the composition of BASF'sworkforce. The company currently employs around3,500 people in Brazil, yet fewer than one in four are women and only around 6% are black. Thirty-five women and nine black employees currently holdsenior management positions.In order to reverse the overall underrepresentation of women and black employees within the company,and above all in management positions, BASF S.A.established a Diversity Committee in 2003. TheCommittee is made up of members representingBrazil's diversity, particularly women and blackworkers.The Committee's first actions were to review andmodify recruitment selection procedures. In addition,communications measures have been taken toencourage awareness of the issue and eventsincluding workshops for management staff andcommunity initiatives have been planned. The ideais to integrate the diversity principle firmly in theminds of decision makers and employees.BASF recognizes that an ethnically mixed workforcebrings its cultural knowledge on board and helpsthe company to develop new markets and serviceexisting ones in a customer-focused manner.Diversity is thus a sound business principle, simplybecause BASF wants the best employees on themarket.This program places BASF among the very fewmultinational companies operating in Brazil thatpro-actively tackle the problem of discriminationagainst women, black workers and other minorities,both in employment and in occupation.
Source: BASF, Global Compact 'Learning Forum' paper 
Business Case for Diversity in Brazil
Page Two
There is a growingconsensus that promoting a diverseworkforce is good forbusiness.
Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity
This Good Practice Note draws on many of theseexamples and case studies to illustrate how today'scompanies are taking positive action in the equalopportunity arena.There is a growing consensus that promoting adiverse workforce is good for business.Employment practices and decisions based on anindividual's gender, race, religion or other personalcharacteristics irrelevant to their performance at work restrict the available pool of workers andskills. Discrimination also can isolate a company from the community in which it operates anddamage its reputation, potentially affecting profits. Inaddition, emerging market companies whichproduce for a global export market are increasingly finding that such issues are raised by their customers, who require commitments as to theelimination of discrimination as a standard conditionof business.There are often clear business benefits for acompany in recruiting employees from as wide apool as possible. Businesses that are servingparticular markets will frequently find that having adiverse workforce increases their penetration in those markets, based on the image which their  workforce gives to potential and actual customers.Such companies also tend to benefit as a result of having a wide range of experiences, perspectives,and cultural understandings within the organization.
The Business Casefor Diversity
 
Identify need for non-discriminationstrategy Prepare baselineinformationReview and changerecruitmentpolicies Assess paymentpracticesImplement ananti-harassmentpolicy Develop family-friendly policiesUnderstand culturaland religiousdiversity Involveunderrepresentedgroups in your  workforceDevise a strategy todeal with disability and health issuesCommunicate
Non-Discrimination Roadmap
»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»
Link non-discrimination with business prioritiesGet top management support for initiativesIdentify business benefits from non-discrimination Analyze the composition of workforce Analyze the composition of local labor marketGet information on legislative requirementsMove to competence-based systemsEnsure recruitment is not based on personal specificationsTrain managers in non-discriminatory recruitmentIdentify potentially discriminatory practices Audit payment disparities for women and minority groupsDefine an anti-harassment policyCommunicate the policy to the workforceTrain managers on the policySupport workers who are harassedInstitute maternity leave policiesEncourage flexible working where appropriateConsider the possibility of providing crèchesConsider ways to accommodate breastfeeding mothersKnow the cultural boundaries in the society in which you operateTrain and develop managers to understand cultural differences Adjust workplace practices to facilitate religious cultural practices wherepossibleCheck your recruitment requirements: are they absolutely necessary?Consider ways of providing training to potential employees to improve their chances of employmentConsider whether you can work with government, trade unions and other stakeholders to develop the potential of underrepresented groupsExamine ways in which jobs can be readjusted to accommodate persons withdisabilitiesHave a health management system which seeks to rehabilitate or reintegrateemployees who have long-term health problemsDevelop a policy on HIV/AIDSEnsure your managers and workforce know the standards of behavior expectedof them and are aware of company policiesLet marginalized communities know about your programs Accentuate the positive advantages of non-discrimination with all stakeholders
»»
Page Three
Good Practice Note | January 2006 | Number 5

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