I heard on the radio on the way into work that Ford's plant in Dagenham, England will have to raise quotas of Ethnic Minorities that they employ.

What the hell?

I am not in the slightest bit prejudiced about race, gender, sexual preference, age or anything else that I have encountered in life so far. I thought I would make this clear so that people don't immediately assume that since I mention race relations in a negative way, that I am. I am not a bigot.

Let's consider this: If someone was turned down from a job which they otherwise would have been the best candidate for because of the colour of their skin, this would be wrong. Unless their skin is white, and the person who got the job isn't. In such a case it could well be concievable that the company was making sure they had the right percentages of ethnic minorities to satisfy some public watchdog that monitors these things.

My point to this is that people should be employed on merit, not colour of skin, and that should not factor into the decision at all. To do so would be to discriminate against them for something which is their birthright, and no matter what the colour of their skin this is wrong.
The UK, US and other western countries are not entirely free of racial prejudices. Minority applicants are often unfairly denied jobs, for subtle reasons such as employers considering them 'awkward to work with'. Ethnic Minorities Quotas are a way to pressure companies into keeping a proportion of minorities in their workforce. In theory, this should cancel out employers' natural prejudices when hiring. And, to an extent, it works.

However, this often has unfortunate side effects. Minority employees could well be seen as being employed for the colour of their skin rather than their talent. (And face it, some will in fact be employed for this reason.) They may be resented by white employees, or find themselves having to 'prove themselves' to a white employer.

Ethnic Minority Quotas can also be applied to Universities or Colleges, as a way to give more opportunities to disadvantaged minority students. This is also a mixed blessing, for similar reasons.

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