I am probably rediscovering the wheel but I was deeply shocked when for the first time in my life I saw such a questionnarie in an application form for a job in academia. I specify that the website from which I dowloaded this form comes from the University of Southampton, but apparently (from what I could hear from other people) is a quite a common thing in UK to ask so private information to improve “Equal Opportunity“.
I sincerly don’t know where to start, because it looks me so wrong… everything… A the beginning I thought that my complete bewilderment was due to the fact that in Italy, France and Switzerland (the only countries in which I lived for a long period) asking such questions is ILLEGAL, and even if, just for statistical reason or to improve equal opportunity, an employer should ask your sexual orientation, your family planning, your racial belonging… would go directly to a tribunale.
Even assuming that I am not open-minded, I don’t get how a compulsory form (to which I could answer “Prefer not to say” and which will not be used for recruitment decision), should help equal opportunity. First of all, I suppose that any hiring process should be based on scientific skills, and that’s all. Second, I see only two ways in which a statistic like this could be used, both wrong, admitting that this doesn’t really influence the hiring process. The first way is to say, “Hey, last year we didn’t reach the fixed female-quota and we miss some asians, so let’s take this chinese girl“. So we would have a reversed form of racism, and the girl would be anyway a victim, because she would feel to be hired not for her scientific skills but just because belonging to a minority. The second way, perhaps more noble in the intention, but still wrong, could be to understand how society is evolving in terms of diversity. Anyway it’s still wrong to ask your ethic origin or your cultural background in a job application.
I found then completely no-sense to ask about “Sexual Orientation“, because it would be like to ask about your favourite colors. There is no relation between this and your future job! Discrimination is not an option, it’s illegal and immoral anyway. And then… for Heaven sake… University of Southampton… if someone doens’t know the difference between Heterosexual and Homosexual and needs some specifications in brackets… probably University is not his place. Moreover even if I write in a poor english, I am not sure that “Straight” is a fair word to indicate “Heterosexual“.
I am asking myself if I am exaggerating and if the intention of this form is after all good, but I still have difficulties to comprehend why should be important to declare if I am a “White British”, a “White Other”, a “Black Caribbian” or a “Mixed White and Asian”. Am I wrong? Please I would like to know also your opinion. Leave a comment!