What is affirmative action?
Affirmative action can also be known as “positive discrimination”. It is usually the result of legislative or policy intervention created to increase the inclusion of historically excluded groups in the workplace. It is designed to promote equality.
What legislation exists in Zimbabwe regarding discrimination in the workplace?
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees or prospective employees. The legal framework for discrimination law is provided under the Declaration of Rights and Part II of the Labour Act. Section 5(i) of the Labour Act says the employer must refrain from discrimination against any employee or prospective employee on grounds of:
- Race or tribe
- Place of origin
- Political opinion
- HIV/AIDS status
What is an affirmative workplace?
It is an office or area of commercial labour that has complied with affirmative action criteria. It is the result of affirmative action policies.
Advantages of affirmative action
- The workplace accurately reflects the ethnic and racial make-up of the area in which it is located, or area from which employees are drawn.
- The best form of affirmative action is that the firm would have sought the best and brightest talent through searching in unlikely places resulting in the discovery of talent that otherwise would have been ignored.
- Affirmative action at its worst is about hiring and promoting based exclusively on some discriminatory grounds, in itself reverse discrimination.
- Promotions based on merit and those based on government mandate are sometimes difficult to distinguish.
- Every new minority employee will be viewed with suspicion.
- A minority woman who gets promoted to an executive position will wonder if this was based on her performance or some legislative or policy requirement.
- Directly or indirectly, government will be in charge of who gets hired or promoted.
- Affirmative action has no relation to actual job performance.
- Firms hire and promote solely to appease government and various interest groups in the area, and talent may be overlooked because employees are forced to fulfil ethnic, gender and racial quotas.
Find out more about Discrimination in the Workplace.