August 17, 2015
Human Rights Implications
Human rights legislation and human rights implications are relatively new. Many employers are either not well informed about human rights requirements or influenced by their past experience. For these reasons, you may be asked questions that violate human rights. Although you may choose not to respond, there are consequences to the choice you make. For example, you may be asked: “How many kids do you have!” That is a violation of human rights.
Your choice of responses includes:
a. “That’s a violation of human rights. I refuse to answer. ”
b. “The number of children I have if I have any, does not relate to my ability to do the job.”
c. “I have three kids — ages seven to eleven. I imagine you’re asking the question for two reasons: first to determine if I’m likely to be a candidate for maternity leave, and secondly because of concern that I may be an attendance risk if I have sick children. I have excellent daycare. My job is important to me. In the past five years, I’ve missed three days total, each time because of a flu. My plans are to pursue my career. Our family is complete.”
d. “I think your question reflects a concern about attendance. It’s important that you know I’ve enjoyed perfect attendance for the past four years.”
You must have a purpose (to get the job), your beliefs, and your level of comfort in sharing your personal life. Tact and diplomacy are essential. Answering either “a” or “b” would be risky. Options “c” and “d” are more likely to be acceptable to the employer.
While we are more aware of employer discrimination against visible minorities and physically challenged persons, no job applicant is exempt from some form of negative stereotyping or bias. It’s critical that you consider which stereotypes might be barriers for you and provide evidence to dispell them. Your interviewer will rarely acknowledge these negative perceptions. You must anticipate them and take the initiative to deal with them.
For example, a person with grey hair may be subject to negative stereotypes that he or she: is getting old, is not able or willing to learn, won’t get along with younger workers or customers, is forgetful, will have health and attendance problems, will be slow, or will retire soon.
If those stereotypes are not true, the applicant must find an opportunity in the interview to overcome these silent objections. For example:
“It’s important for you to know that although my hair is grey, I’m planning on working for many years to come. I’m healthy, have a high energy level, and am eager to continue learning (as evidenced by my education background). I have many valued friends and associates of all ages and backgrounds, which demonstrates my current ability to get along with others. My health and attendance have been excellent. I have a wealth of knowledge and information that relates to doing this job well and enables me to be an excellent resource for younger, less experienced workers. I can provide the balance, stability and maturity you need in the work group.”
Overcoming Negative Stereotypes
What are the possible negative stereotypes or assumptions that may affect you? Mark the ones that you feel could apply:
➟ too young
➟ too old
➟ different culture or ethnic background
➟ married and have young children
➟ wrong gender (i.e. they’d prefer a person of the opposite sex)
➟ don’t speak English fluently
➟ don’t understand English clearly
➟ have disability
➟ have a criminal record
➟ have recent attendance problem
➟ lost your last job
Develop a series of statements you might make to a prospective employer to overcome what may be barriers for you resulting from stereotyping or inaccurate assumptions.
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