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b]REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL[/b]
Equality at work: Tackling the challenges
Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration
on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE 96th Session 2007 Report I (B)
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE GENEVA concerning the delimitation of its frontiers.
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Executive summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Part I. Defining and measuring discrimination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1. Discrimination and equality: Defining the concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
2. Measuring discrimination: Where do we stand? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Part II. Patterns of discrimination at work: Recent developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1. Long-recognized forms of discrimination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Gender equalityinthe world ofwork: A mixed picture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
The persistenceofracialand ethnic discrimination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Migrant workers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Religious discrimination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Discrimination based on social origin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
2. Newly recognized forms of discrimination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
A workplace for all ages: A reachable goal? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Discrimination based on sexual orientation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Discrimination based on disability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Continued stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
3. Emerging manifestations of discrimination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Genetic discrimination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Discrimination based on lifestyle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
EQUALITY AT WORK: TACKLING THE CHALLENGES
Part III. Institutions and policies: Trends, impact and challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
1. Trends in institutional and policy responses since 2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Discriminationand law reforms:General trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
The rise in specialized institutions dealing with discrimination and equality . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
The challenge of making laws work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Changinglabourdemand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Addressing labour supply constraints through inclusive active labour market policies . . . . . . . 67
Policiesfor closing the gender gap in employmentand pay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Recent development sat the international level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
2. The social partners on the move . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Employers’organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Trendsinunionization. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
Collective bargaining: What’s new? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Corporate social responsibility: Potential to promote equality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Part IV. ILO action, past and future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
1. The ILO’s achievements and challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Action plan regarding the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation . . . . . 97
Ongoing ILO commitments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
2. The next steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Promoting gender equalityinthe world ofwork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Mainstreaming non-discrimination and equality in Decent Work Country Programmes . . . . . 118
Better lawsand better enforcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
More effective non-regulatoryinitiatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Social partners better equipped to make equality a reality at the workplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Methodologicalnote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
The second Global Report on discrimination under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work 1 examines emerging issues in patterns of workplace discrimination and inequalities and recent policy responses,
and outlines the ILO’s experience and achievements to date and the challenges it faces.
It points to the need for better enforcement of legislation against discrimination, as well as non-regulatory initiatives by governments and enterprises, and equipping the social partners to be more effective in making equality a reality at the workplace. The Report puts forward other proposals for future action, including making equality a mainstream objective of the ILO’s Decent Work Country Programmes.
The Global Report describes major advances in the struggle against discrimination, including progress in ratification of related ILO Conventions, as well as improvements on the national legal and institutional fronts, and action plans and programmes to combat inequalities stemming from discrimination.
It also identifies challenges such as weak law enforcement,lack of resources among bodies set up to fight discrimination, plans that are too narrow in scope and programmes too short in duration, and the informal economy as one area where equality-enhancing policies face particular diffi culties in making an impact.
One approach recommended by the Report in achieving equality at the workplace is to complement conventional anti-discrimination policy measures, such as coherent and comprehensive laws, effective enforcement mechanisms and specialized bodies, with other policy instruments, such as active labour market policies. While improving the functioning of labour markets, these can counter discrimination with comprehensive policies that enhance the job placement function in both the public and private employment services, and increase the employability of those who are vulnerable to discrimination.
New policies are also required to close the gender gap in employment and pay. Despite advances, in particular the considerable progress in women’s educational attainments, women continue to earn less than men everywhere, and the unequal burden of family responsibilities places them at a disadvantage in finding full-time employment.
The Report underscores the fact that further inclusion of fundamental principles and rights in regional economic integration and free trade agreements can play a major role in reducing discrimination at work. Where the parties to such agreements make commitments on non-discrimination and equality issues, attention needs to be paid to effective follow-up mechanisms. Development finance institutions have in recent years begun to require their private borrowers to respect the principles and rights laid down in the fundamental international labour standards. This will lead to the obligation for employers to institute equality-enhancing labour practices at the workplace.
The need for better data
National political commitment to combat discrimination and promote equal treatment and opportunities at the workplace is widespread, as shown by the almost universal ratification of the two main ILO instruments in this area, the Equal Remuneration
1. The first Global Report on this subject, Time for equality at work, was published in 2003.
EQUALITY AT WORK: TACKLING THE CHALLENGES Convention, 1951 (No. 100), and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111). Only a handful of member States have yet to ratify these Conventions.
However, discrimination is an insidious and shifting phenomenon that can be diffi cult to quantify and therefore to address meaningfully. No single indicator can capture progress in its elimination, although the available data clearly show that the gaps between those in the mainstream and groups vulnerable to discrimination are significant and slow to narrow.
Privacy protection considerations and ideological and political barriers often prevent the collection of data on certain groups. In addition, many countries do not seek to quantify the gaps in equality for fear of exacerbating tensions. This raises the important question of how to reconcile the protection of personal data and an individual’s right to privacy with the need to monitor discrimination through statistical means.
Some progress has been made, however, in the quality of data on gender inequalities, although further efforts are required in regard to certain key indicators, such as the gender pay gap.
New forms of discrimination
The problem of data collection is exacerbated by the fact that newer forms of discrimination are being added to long-recognized patterns such as those based on sex, race and religion. There is increasing awareness of unfair treatment of both young and older persons, people with disabilities and those with HIV/AIDS.
An additional challenge is the emergence of practices that penalize those with a genetic predisposition to developing certain diseases or who have lifestyles that are considered unhealthy. Virtually every lifestyle choice has some health-related consequence; the question therefore is where to draw the line between what an employer can regulate and the freedom of an employee to lead the life of his or her choice.
Trends in institutional and policy responses
Since the publication of the first Global Report on the subject, there has been a worldwide trend towards ensuring that the four sets of ILO fundamental principles and rights at work are covered by labour law. In addition to greater acceptance of the need for specific legal provisions on non-discrimination and equality at the workplace, national governmental and nongovernmental specialized bodies have been set up or
restructured to assist individuals in taking legal action, promote reform and design and oversee national anti-discrimination action plans. These bodies reflect a broader focus on equal treatment and opportunities at work. One example is the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination set up in Mexico in 2003, which launched the first national public policy to combat discrimination in 2006.
In Europe, the racial equality Directive 2 requires European Union (EU) Member States to designate a national body responsible for combating discrimination.
To date, 19 countries have changed their institutions either by extending the mandate of existing bodies or by creating new ones. In Latin America, the elimination of racial and ethnic inequalities features prominently on the public agendas of several countries, including Brazil, where a Special Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality has been set up, with ministerial rank.
Making laws work
In many countries, victims of employment discrimination cannot always bring their case to court, for reasons often related to their disadvantaged social position, lack of access to legal assistance, fear of reprisal or distrust of the judicial system.
One example of how the courts can be made more accessible is the Roma Anti-Discrimination Customer Service Network in Hungary, a joint initiative by several ministries, which helps complainants in eliminating discrimination and obtaining reinstatement.
Keenly aware of difficulties faced by victims in speaking out and obtaining redress in the courts, the ILO has provided training for judges and lawyers on international labour standards through courses organized by the International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin, and these have shown positive results.
The potential for labour inspection to deal with issues of discrimination is often underutilized. Labour inspection services can monitor and enforce legal compliance, obviating the need for victims to take legal action through the courts or even to give evidence. They also have power to inspect workplaces and determine whether discrimination has occurred
without it having necessarily been reported. Examples in several countries show that governments are assigning greater importance and committing more
2. Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin funds to the enforcement and advisory services provided by labour inspectors. In Brazil, a programme instituted with ILO assistance, entitled “Brazil, Gender and Race – United for Equal Opportunities”, in cooperation with the units for promoting equal opportunities and fighting discrimination in employment and occupation, has provided awareness-raising and mediation services. This led to the setting up, in 2006, of a Special Advisory Unit on discrimination and equality in the Brazilian Ministry of Labour. In the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs issued an instruction to labour inspectors in 2003 regarding equal opportunities for women and men, providing concrete guidance on how to carry out gender equality inspections. Several other countries, including Belgium, Cyprus and Poland, have placed greater stress on the importance of labour inspection in resolving discrimination issues.
However, more effort is required in collecting and assessing information on the number, nature and outcomes of cases involving discrimination in order to provide an indicator for the practical effect and impact of anti-discrimination legislation.
Changing labour demand
Affirmative action measures that are integrated in human resource policies can help employers create more inclusive workplaces. The Global Report provides information on programmes in Canada, India, Malaysia, Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, which have adopted
laws aimed at eliminating or compensating employment discrimination through the introduction of numerical targets or quotas to be met within given timeframes. Results show that where employers’ commitment has been high and law enforcement effective, affirmative action has improved the representation of groups affected by discrimination, even though impact has varied depending on the group and the terms of the legislation itself. To have an impact, however, affirmative action must be accompanied by investment in quality education for disadvantaged groups.
Procurement policy – does it work against discrimination?
Public procurement policies embodying racial or sex equality clauses are increasingly viewed as an effective tool to combat discrimination. The scale and economic importance of public tenders provide considerable potential for eliminating discrimination. In South Africa, for instance, the State and state-owned enterprises spent over US$123 billion in 2004 on purchasing goods and services. However, the question still
remains as to the conditions under which they can help to create more diverse workforces, while ensuring quality standards and achieving “value for money”.
The Global Report presents examples of promoting racial equality through public procurement policies in Europe, South Africa and the United States, illustrating the significant potential of such measures. However, certain conditions have to be met, the most important of which is political commitment. Rules must be clear and transparent; information on how to link procurement and equality must be widely distributed; and know-how must be disseminated. The long-term fi nancial benefits to business must also be seen to be worth the effort involved in achieving equality goals.
Active labour market policies
Active labour market policies comprise many measures: job search, recruitment and placement; training; hiring subsidies; job-creation programmes; and various support services. They are used in many countries in different ways and with varying results. They can clearly offer significant opportunities for narrowing inequalities. However, evidence shows that members of discriminated groups often fail to achieve success in job placement and training schemes. The Report reviews experience to date in mainstreaming gender and promoting gender equality within the European Employment Strategy (EES), a unique instrument that requires EU Member States to develop annual National Action Plans on employment based on common agreed targets.
Examples of job placement services for disadvantaged groups in Peru and Spain, among others, are provided to illustrate how private and public employment agencies can have a positive impact on employment opportunities. The Report also describes
employment and training programmes to develop employability, run by both public and private services in Brazil, Cambodia, India and Peru.
Policies to close the gender gap
Opportunities for women in employment have increased, and they have taken up careers once considered the exclusive prerogative of men. Despite this, and despite advances in women’s educational achievements, their earnings are still on average less than men’s. It is also difficult for women to reconcile
family duties with paid work without affecting their chances of promotion or skill enhancement. However, even where they manage to overcome these obstacles, they earn less than men.
One method of establishing pay equity is through job evaluation methods that are free from gender bias. A number of methods have been developed in recent years in countries such as Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Pay equity commissions also play a major role, particularly for small and medium-sizedenterprises, in Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
However, job evaluation does not always correct pay gaps, as countries have different understandings of pay equity and different models to promote it. The complexities of analytical job evaluation remain a challenge for many, and although a number of recent laws and regulations have begun to refer to “identical” work, they do not include the notion of “work of equal value”. Nevertheless, some countries, such as Lebanon, Mauritius and Nigeria, have sought ILO assistance in this area.
Encouraging results have been recorded by the global union federation Public Services International (PSI), which has run a campaign to show that pay equity programmes contribute to broader goals such as poverty reduction, social inclusion and increased quality of public services.
Workplace family policies are required for both men and women in order to help overcome the problems of workers with family responsibilities in better balancing work–family issues in a world of longer working hours and work patterns that disadvantage women and affect their careers. This Report shows
that the fertility rate improved where better childcare availability and easier access to part-time work were introduced.
The growth of part-time work has been signifi cant in the past ten years and resulted in greater female participation and employment rates. However, opportunities for women are often concentrated in low-status jobs. One exception is the Netherlands, which, through greater labour market regulation, has managed to introduce part-time work throughout all sectors and occupations to achieve a more even distribution of part-time work between women and men.
Childcare arrangements, especially for children under three years old, are still limited and have not been a priority in many parts of the world. There is a special need for childcare in the informal sector and, in this respect, initiatives in India and South Africa have shown positive results.
At the same time, there has been signifi cant change in policies encouraging fathers to take care related leave. Both developed and developing countries around the world have made it easier for men to take parental leave, although take-up rates are still low in most countries.
Anti-discrimination lending policies
In recent years, development fi nance institutions have begun to examine the environmental and social impact of their lending, including respect of international labour standards in employment. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has adopted Performance Standards under which it undertakes to abide by commitments based on ILO core labour standards, as well as standards on safety and health and retrenchment, in its lending policies. These Performance Standards were developed in consultation with a broad range of actors, including the ILO and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU). More than 40 national development banks (the “Equator Banks”), representing about 85 per cent of global lending for development projects, have committed themselves to applying the IFC Performance Standards to projects with a budget of at least US$10 million. The IFC has also issued a Good Practice
Note on non-discrimination and equal opportunity.
In June 2006, the Inter-American Development Bank issued even more comprehensive requirements for applying international labour standards to infrastructure projects, while the EuropeanInvestment Bank
adopted a similar standard. The Asian Development Bank published a Core Labour Standards Handbook in 2006, developed in close cooperation with the ILO. The President of the World Bank has expressed his willingness to ensure that all World Bank-fi nanced infrastructure projects respect ILO core labour
Regional economic integration and free trade agreements – a mixed picture
Free trade agreements have proliferated in recent years; however, they vary in their approach to discrimination. While several refer explicitly to non-discrimination and equal pay, others do not, although they include non-discrimination and equality as subjects for technical cooperation. Other agreements fail to address workplace discrimination altogether; this is the case of the economic partnership agreements (EPA) being negotiated between the EU and 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, due to come into force in 2008.
Some analysts consider that non-discrimination and equality are treated as a secondary right as regards enforcement in the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) and the Canada-Chile Agreement on Labor Cooperation (CCALC). Differing
national legal contexts lead to discrepancies in the way discrimination is addressed across regions, as evidenced by the treatment of gender issues under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR). In the case of NAFTA, women’s groups in the United States and Mexico appeared largely uninterested in shaping the Agreement, and this is reflected in the lack of substantive provisions. In the case of MERCOSUR, the women’s rights agenda was not fi rmly established, although tripartite national commissions operating under the agreement are evaluating their capacity to mainstream
gender through national labour ministries.
One example of a positive impact on discrimination under the NAALC involved Mexican and US non-governmental organizations (NGOs) introducing a complaint about mandatory pregnancy testing and resulting dismissal, which led to the Mexican Government discontinuing the practice for public sector employees. Some benefits have also been gained through capacity
building under these regional agreements.
The social partners on the move
Workers’ and employers’ organizations have developed initiatives to eliminate discrimination at the workplace, as well as making equality a focal point of collective bargaining.
Private and public sector employers in New Zealand, for instance, have launched a joint initiative, the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, since 1992 and, together with the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association, have developed a publication targeting recruitment agencies and aimed at removing discriminatory practices. The Employers’ Forum on Disability in the United Kingdom issued the Disability
Standard 2005 and 2007, a benchmarking tool that assesses the performance of employers and service providers in respect of disability. Employers in Kenya and Sri Lanka have developed policies on equality and sexual harassment, while the Employers Confederation of the Philippines launched several initiatives on good practices, designed to persuade member organizations of the benefits to be gained from the adoption of work– family reconciliation measures. The International Organisation of Employers has published a guide that identifies the barriers faced by women entrepreneursand demonstrates how employers’ organizations can provide better support and representation.
Within trade unions, a tendency for increased female membership is apparent in some countries and sectors. To capitalize on these gains, unions will need to address the specific circumstances of women workers, such as the gender bias in wages. The fi veyear campaign (2002–07) launched by PSI has shown that pay equity can be an effective organizing strategy
for female workers and a positive development for a union as a whole.
A significant development in 2006 was the affi liation to the ICFTU of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), now a founder member of the new International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
The participation of ethnic and racial minorities has made great strides in the United Kingdom and the United States, while in France, trade unions have been working to raise the representation of ethnic minorities in their structure in order to improve their position at the workplace.
In the field of collective bargaining, trade unions, especially in the industrialized countries, are putting work–family reconciliation high on their agenda, partly as a way of increasing membership. In some countries, collective bargaining has achieved benefi ts beyond what is required by law, especially in regard to work–family reconciliation measures. However, issues such as family care provisions are still absent from collective agreements in other countries, including new
EU Member States. Incorporation of pay equity in collective agreements is another trend in industrialized nations. France, for instance, has set 2010 as the target date for eliminating the remuneration gap between women and men through collective agreements.
The Global Report also demonstrates that enterprises can adapt their human resource management practices and policies through non-regulatory measures, ranging from government purchasing policies to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Increased interest in CSR programmes can be viewed as a response to the challenges posed by an emerging global labour market. These programmes are a voluntary means of affirming principles and have helped raise awareness of the importance of non-discrimination.
A World Bank review of some 100 multinational enterprises, published in 2003–04, showed that some form of non-discriminatory clause or equality guarantee had been incorporated in four out of the five industrial and service sector codes examined.
The ILO intends to document promising practices, produce policy briefs and set up knowledge sharing forums at national and regional levels in order to achieve non-discrimination and equality goals.
The Global Report details progress made by a series of ILO interventions under the follow-up action plan regarding the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation for the years 2004–07.
The plan focused on two priorities: the gender pay gap and racial/ethnic equality and its gender dimension, while consolidating ongoing activity regarding HIV/AIDS and disability. Technical cooperation was extended to several countries for the design of employment policies and job evaluation methods, for example. The Report is rich in examples
of ILO cooperation work throughout the world.
The Gender Equality Partnership Fund, launched in
2003, has been a further means to give practical effect to gender equality at work. The ILO is committed to
strengthening legislative provisions and has assisted a very wide range of countries in this respect both in the North and in the South. In the area of gender mainstreaming, the Gender Network in the Office connects focal points and facilitates the sharing of experience and practices. Between 2001 and 2005, gender audits were carried out in 25 headquarters units and fi eld offices of the ILO – a first for the UN system.
The Global Report notes that “equal pay for work of equal value” is one of the least understood concepts in the field of action against discrimination: it is often given a narrow interpretation in laws and regulations, and the lack of reliable sex-disaggregated data on wages makes it difficult to monitor trends. The action plan therefore focused on generating knowledge on the costs and benefits of promoting pay equity; the trends in the gender pay gap and underlying causes;
networking and cooperating with global union federations; and providing technical assistance at country level. Country fact sheets covering Africa, Europe and Latin America were prepared to provide an overview of: trends in the gender pay gap over the previous 15 years by sector and occupation; relevant national institutional and regulatory frameworks; and related
comments by the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations over the previous 15 years. Similar work has also begun in East Asia. A paper assessing the costs and benefi ts of pay equity partly makes up for the lack of studies that have addressed the subject.
As employment policies and programmes are often gender-blind, the ILO has sought to provide advice to ministries of labour in the design and implementation of national employment policies. An example is the Belgian-funded project entitled “Promoting
Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the Country Employment Reviews of the Stability Pact Countries”. The ILO has also provided assistance to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru on improving the way employment policies address gender
Technical assistance has been offered to governments in their efforts to promote racial equality, for example to Brazil under the National Policy for Racial Equality Project. An ethnic audit of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) in 14 countries concluded that recognition of the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, as articulated in the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), was an essential requirement for addressing their poverty and social exclusion, and recommended capacity building for
indigenous organizations and local authorities for the
implementation of inclusive local development plans.
Ongoing ILO commitments
The action plan recognized the need to consolidate traditional ILO action such as supervising the application of Conventions. Guidelines were produced on how to promote equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities through legislation, and impact studies carried out in selected countries shed light
on the variety of forms and objectives of non-discrimination
law. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, following discussion at the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards in 2005 of the country’s failure to provide reports on ratifi ed Conventions, the ILO assisted in the formulation in 2006 of a strategy outlining the priorities of the public authorities and the social partners for the effective implementation of the Gender Equality Law. A project was launched in Mauritius to develop measures to redress gender
inequalities within the framework of the National Gender Policy and National Gender Action Plan.
One indicator to measure the effectiveness of law is the number of discrimination cases brought before the courts and adequately handled, and the training of judges and lawyers is essential in this respect. The International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin (the Turin Centre) has played an active role in the training of judges, lawyers and law professors on international labour law. As a result, long-term cooperation is now in place with judicial training centres and universities
in Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Madagascar, Morocco and Senegal. The Turin Centre has also assisted the European Commission in placing gender equality at the heart of its aid delivery agenda.
In March 2005, the Governing Body of the International
Labour Office adopted a decision requiring all ILO technical cooperation projects to give due consideration to gender equality. Framework agreements have been signed with six donor countries in this respect, some even setting aside contributions to the Gender Equality Partnership Fund launched in 2003 to enhance the capacity of constituents to take positive steps to promote equal opportunities. Under the auspices of the Fund, 13 projects are under way in 25 countries. Since 2006, a key criterion in the screening of new technical cooperation proposals is the inclusion of a strategy to mainstream gender equality.
The Global Report provides details on the technical support given to government or employer-led initiatives aimed at developing equal employment opportunity policies at the enterprise level in Chile, Cambodia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. “Better Factories Cambodia”, a unique ILO programme, is an example of how tripartism, together with an integratedstrategy, can improve working conditions in global production systems.
The ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work now provides guidance in around 40 countries and is used as a reference tool by policymakers and the social partners in over 60 countries.
The ILO programme “Strategic HIV/AIDS Responses by Enterprises” (SHARE) has reached out to 300,000 formal and informal workers in 23 countries and has been instrumental in the adoption of enabling legislative frameworks. Since 2000, over 2,500 people, including representatives of trade unions and employers’
organizations, labour inspectors, judges and NGOs, have been trained under the SHARE programme.
Using the ILO code of practice on managing disability at the workplace, “AbilityAP”, the ILO’s disability programme in Asia and the Pacific, has created a comprehensive database on laws and policies and provided advice on policies and programmes. Action in Africa has aimed at enhancing disabled workers’
skills and developing entrepreneurship among women with disabilities.
The ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration, adopted in 2005, places special emphasis on the discrimination faced by migrants and calls for promotion of their rights. The ILO has created a database of 150 good practices on the integration of migrant workers and in 2004 launched a programme to
strengthen the capacity of African States in the management of labour migration.
Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs) are the main means for the ILO to assist Members in their efforts to make decent work a national reality.
Recent developments include the launching of the Asian Decent Work Decade and the Decade for Promoting Decent Work in the Americas in 2006. Specific commitments and targets have been set in both regions to curb decent work gaps between mainstream
groups and groups vulnerable to discrimination.
ILO follow-up action under the second Global Report on discrimination will draw on experience gained in the four years since the first Report and will be aligned with the Organization’s strategic planning, in particular the DWCPs, as the main framework for work at the national level. This means that the forms of discrimination warranting priority focus will be determined on a case-by-case basis in response to the
needs and demands of constituents and the comments of the ILO’s supervisory bodies. In all cases, however, gender equality will be a universal strategic goal, to be pursued with determination. The approach to gender equality has been gradually shifting towards mainstreaming a gender perspective in ILO technical cooperation and policy areas.
In order to ensure better enforcement of equality legislation, the ILO will produce and widely disseminate materials on the legal requirements of Convention Nos. 100 and 111, as well as other relevant Conventions. The importance of strong and effective labour inspection and labour administration will be promoted and national and international networking
encouraged, in order to improve the professional competence and experience of labour inspectors.
The promotion of non-regulatory measures will also be a focus of ILO advocacy with governments and business to infl uence policies and practices in investment and trade, as well as CSR initiatives or codes of conduct that refer to fundamental principles and rights at work.
The critical role of the social partners will be highlighted in key areas such as collective bargaining to bring about concrete change in the working lives of those subject to discrimination. Information will be compiled under the action plan on the experiences of employers’ and workers’ organizations in this fi eld in order to provide model codes of conduct or guidelines
for promoting equal treatment and opportunities for all. Through these different actions, the ILO will continue to address the challenges of discrimination in the world of work.
1. Four years ago the first Global Report on discrimination, Time for equality at work, stressed that the workplace – be it a factory, an office, a farm or the street – was a strategic entry point to free society from discrimination.1 Like any other social institutions, the labour market and its institutions are both a cause of and a solution to discrimination. In the workplace, however, discrimination can be tackled more readily and effectively. Time for equality at work also highlighted the high economic, social and political costs of tolerating discrimination at work, and argued that the
benefits stemming from more inclusive workplaces surpassed the cost of dealing with discrimination.
2. Four years later these same messages remain valid, but the need to combat discrimination at work is even more urgent in the face of a world that appears increasingly unequal, insecure and unsafe. Discrimination bars people from some occupations, denies them a job altogether or does not reward them according to their merit because of the colour of their skin or their sex or social background. This generates social and economic disadvantages that, in turn, lead into inefficiency and unequal outcomes. At the same time, significant and persistent inequalities in income, assets and opportunities dilute the effectiveness of any action aimed at combating discrimination. This may lead to political instability and social upheaval, which upset investment and economic growth.
3. The global picture of the struggle to overcome discrimination shows a mixture of major advances and failures. The condemnation of discrimination in employment and occupation is today almost universal, as is the political commitment to tackle it. Nine out of ten ILO member States have ratifi ed the
Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), the two fundamental international labour standards on the subject (Part I, Chapter 1). With the ratification of Convention No. 111 by China in 2006, the number of people
covered worldwide by this Convention has expanded considerably.
4. Progress on the legal and institutional fronts in
many countries has also been remarkable. Non-discrimination and equality provisions feature in labour codes that have recently been reformed; many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, have adopted laws protecting workers living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination; and sexual harassment is prohibited in many jurisdictions. Countries have expanded the
number of grounds on which discrimination is forbidden beyond those explicitly mentioned in Convention No. 111. These include, among others, the European Union (EU) Member States that in the past few years have transposed the 2000 Directives
regulating discrimination in employment throughout the EU,2 thus making unlawful discrimination based on race, religion or belief, age, disability or sexual orientation.
5. Although this trend has been more marked in some regions than others, overall there has been a tendency towards greater institutional commitment to non-discrimination and equality. Specialized bodies or commissions responsible for providing legal assistance to victims of discrimination or supplying information and guidance to employers on how to make their wage systems more transparent and gender neutral have been set up or restructured in the past four years. For example, in Brazil, where 46 per cent of the population is black, a Special Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality (SEPPIR), with ministerial rank, was established for the first time in 2003.
ILO: Time for equality at work, Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Report I(B), International Labour Conference, 91st Session, Geneva, 2003, para. 11.
Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, which requires all Member States to designate a body to promote racial or ethnic equality; and Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, which is aimed at prohibiting discrimination based on religion or belief, age, disability or sexual orientation.
6. There has been no shortage of action plans, special programmes or active labour market policies aimed at enhancing the status and employment prospects of groups vulnerable to discrimination. These range from low-income women or mothers of small children to people with disabilities and older workers.
Tripartite commissions, such as the Tripartite Commission on Gender and Racial Equality at Work in Brazil, have been established to draw up employment policies aimed at eliminating the decent work defi cits affecting particular segments of the population. Collective agreements granting fathers family-related leave have been signed in a growing number of countries
in Europe and Latin America, thus encouraging a more equitable share of paid and unpaid work between men and women.
7. These are all encouraging developments, but many shortcomings persist. Enforcement is often weak, especially but not only in developing and transition economies, as illustrated by the relatively small number of discrimination complaints and even fewer convictions in many countries. Specialized bodies or commissions operate under serious staffi ng and
resource constraints. Action plans and special programmes have often been narrow in scope, not sustained over time, and subject to political changes. Millions of workers in the informal economy, where social norms maintain social barriers and divisions, do not benefit from equality-enhancing policies that are usually designed for formal workplaces and employees.
Set against these constraints, the new measures do not appear to have yielded a net reduction in discrimination.
8. If we are to move forward it is essential to understand the reasons why the achievement of equality is so challenging.
9. First, discrimination is entrenched both in human nature and in the way institutions operate. It has always been a part of the community everywhere and at all times. This makes it more difficult to challenge it until the situation becomes unmanageable.
10. Second, discrimination is an evolving phenomenon:long-recognized forms of discrimination, such as racial, religious, class or sex discrimination, do not easily die out; they may acquire more subtle manifestations or may even be legitimized with more sophisticated arguments. For instance, terrorism and security policies since 11 September 2001 have contributed to
reinforcing suspicion in regard to Muslim and Arab people, raising serious issues of discrimination in the workplace. Expressions of hostility and racism towards actual or perceived foreign workers are common in both industrialized and developing regions. These sentiments are rooted in feelings of anxiety and insecurity in the host countries, which have been exacerbated by the profound socio-economic changes brought about by globalization. Earlier justifi cations of racism in terms of the alleged superiority of one culture over another are now joined by arguments based on the need to preserve national identities and cultures from values and institutions of a different culture. Meanwhile, new forms of discrimination
are emerging as a result of both structural economic changes and societal and cultural transformations.
A person’s age or perceived lifestyle may become a serious disadvantage at work, especially in industrialized countries.
11. Third, while there is consensus that discrimination is both wrong and inefficient, opinions diverge about how to eliminate it and about what promoting equal opportunities means in practice. The ongoing heated debate on the desirability,legitimacy and effectiveness of affirmative action in favour of underrepresented groups is indicative of these divergent views.
12. Fourth, the eradication of discrimination is felt to be too costly and its benefits hard to measure, with the costs perceived as outweighing potential benefi ts, especially in the short and medium term. This explains why, often in periods of economic recession or stagnation, policies that increase equality face backlash, lose legitimacy and may be discontinued.
13. Lastly, trade and fi nancial liberalization, and tight monetary and fi scal policies that were meant to create a more level playing field for healthy market competition, have not always resulted in more equal social outcomes or greater solidarity among individuals and groups of workers. At the same time, the global spread of democracy and the growing power of
the media have helped disadvantaged groups to have their voices heard, thus generating strong pressures for more effective mechanisms of social solidarity.
3. B. Harriss-White: “Inequality at work in the informal economy: Key issues and illustrations”, in International Labour Review, Vol. 142 (2003), No. 4, pp. 459–469.
14. Why then is the lower level of achievement of certain social groups perceived as reflecting only their lack of abilities and not the result of denied opportunities due to systemic past and present discrimination? While it is undisputable that discrimination, and the inequalities it entrenches, are a structural problem for which quick fixes do not work, robust evidence shows that the economic, social and political costs of tolerating discrimination are high.4
15. This Report builds on the first Global Report on the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Its main message is that, to effectively continue to tackle discrimination at work, the creation of more equal societies must become a central goal of development paradigms and policies, and the promotion of equal opportunities for decent work for all women and men,irrespective of race, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation, one of the means to advance in this direction. The endorsement of decent work as a global goal by the high-level segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in
July 2006, and the adoption, six months later, by the Council of the European Union of a set of conclusions on the promotionof decent work in the EU and the world 6 provide new support to efforts aimed at making equality at work a global reality.
16. This second Global Report on discrimination is divided into four parts. Part I briefl y defi nes the concepts of discrimination and equality of treatment and opportunities and discusses the advances and challenges in measuring discrimination and assessing progress in the promotion of equality in the world of work on a global scale.
17. Part II describes patterns of discrimination in employment and occupation worldwide, building upon the first Global Report on the subject. This part assesses the global situation in respect of the more traditional forms of discrimination, especially on grounds of sex or race, which the fi rst Global Report on discrimination had identified as priority areas for
ILO action in the period 2004–07. It then reviews recent trends in respect of forms of discrimination al-ready examined by the earlier Global Report, but recognized in more recent times as intolerable, namely discrimination based on disability, perceived or actual HIV/AIDS status or age. The novelty of this Global Report lies in its review of discrimination based on
sexual orientation, of increasing concern in a growing, though still limited, number of countries. Another new element is the examination of emerging practices in advanced economies that appear to penalize individuals with a genetic predisposition to particular diseases or who pursue a certain lifestyle. All these trends warrant careful monitoring.
18. Part III gives an overview of the scope and impact of laws, policies and practical action by a range of actors – the State, the social partners and other relevant institutions – to combat discrimination and promote equality at the national, international and global levels. The national initiatives covered concern mainly high-income and middle-income countries, owing to the larger number of anti-discrimination measures and availability of related data in those countries. This allows a better grasp of the actual effects of national action, and yields some useful conclusions to assist future policy-making, but it also mirrors the low profile of discrimination at work in the public agendas of low-income countries, suggesting that these matters either are difficult to address or are not considered as warranting priority attention. On the other hand, the international and global review points to increasing references in corporate social responsibility (CSR) instruments to non-discrimination and equality matters, as well as the implications of regional economic integration processes and trade negotiations for the advancement of an equality agenda. 19. Part IV reviews the ILO’s assistance to member States for the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunities. This yields a picture of both achievements and challenges. The ILO has continued to provide assistance in drafting or revising legislation on equality and in mainstreaming non-discrimination and equality concerns into labour code reforms. Through its supervisory machinery, it has highlighted both traditional and new problems, while encouraging positive developments. Action geared towards guaranteeing equal opportunities for people with disabilities or people living with actual or perceived HIV/AIDS has continued apace, as has work focusing on certain aspects of gender equality. There have been some efforts, though not on a consistent basis, to mainstream non-discrimination and equality concerns in Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs) as well as in employment-driven Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs) and programmes. Progress has also been slow on pay equity issues and on the fight against racial discrimination, two areas in which the earlier Global Report had identified important needs and gaps. This is perhaps not surprising, given the persistence of these problems worldwide as shown by the global picture, but it raises important questions about the way forward.
20. Part IV discusses these and other matters and puts forward proposals for the future. It advocates mainstreaming equal opportunities at work in the next stages of ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, namely the DWCPs and the quest for policy coherence at the global level.
21. While the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality is a constant challenge requiring renewed political and policy commitment, it is nonetheless a goal towards which the ILO and its constituents and international partners can progress if there is a sustained effort by all the parties involved.
22. There is consensus that discrimination at work is a violation of a human right that entails a waste of human talents, with detrimental effects on productivity and economic growth, and generates socioeconomic inequalities that undermine social cohesion and solidarity and act as a brake on the reduction of poverty. There is also agreement that promoting
equality of opportunity and equality of treatment is necessary in order to move towards the elimination of discrimination in law and in practice.1
23. Political commitment to combating discrimination and promoting equal treatment and opportunities at the workplace is almost universal. This is reflected in the high and steadily increasing number of ratifications of the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), and the Discrimination (Employment
and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), in the past years (fi gure 1.1 and table 1.1).
24. Against this background the main question is to assess progress in making equality a reality for everyone, and in distilling lessons to guide future action by the State, the social partners and other relevant actors. This part of the Global Report briefly defines the concepts of discrimination and equality of treatment and opportunities in employment and
occupation. This is necessary given the misunderstandings and lack of clarity that often surround these notions.
1. See ILO: Time for equality at work, Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Report I(B), International Labour Conference, 91st Session, Geneva, 2003.
Figure 1.1. Number of ratifications of Conventions Nos. 100 and 111, 1990–2005 1990 1995 2000 2005
Table 1.1. Countries which have not yet ratified Convention No. 100 and Convention No. 111
Countries which have not yet ratified Countries which have not yet ratified Convention No. 100 (16) Convention No. 111 (14)
Bahrain, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Japan, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Namibia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Oman, Samoa, Oman, Qatar, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Suriname, Timor-Leste and United States Timor-Leste and United States
DEFINING AND MEASURING DISCRIMINATION
1. Discrimination and equality: Defining the concepts
25. Convention No. 111 defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation”, and allows additional criteria to be included after consultation by the governments concerned with employers’ and workers’ organizations. Based on the information gathered from member States, the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) has noted that in many countries grounds for discrimination in addition to those mentioned in Convention No. 111 have been recognized, and both the previous and the present Global Report on the subject have confirmed this. In a growing number
of countries the list has expanded in recent years to include disability, age, state of health (including actual or perceived HIV/AIDS status), trade union membership and family status, among other grounds.
26. Discrimination may occur when looking for a job, while on the job or upon leaving. Discrimination is a differential and less favourable treatment of certain individuals because of any of the abovementioned characteristics, regardless of their ability to fulfi l the requirements of the job. Discrimination occurs when a qualified member of a minority religious group is
denied a job, or when competent workers are mobbed because of their religion or trade union affi liation. Discrimination also arises when, for the same job, a migrant worker receives lower pay than a national worker, or when payment is systematically delayed for low-caste or indigenous agricultural workers compared to their higher-caste or non-indigenous peers.
Similarly, a female nurse or radiologist who does work of equal value to that of a paramedical technician, but is paid less is subject to discrimination.
27. Discrimination is not an exceptional or aberrantoccurrence, but a systemic phenomenon, frequently embedded in the way in which workplaces operate and rooted in prevalent cultural and social values and norms. Discrimination does not distinguish between formal and informal workplaces, although in the latter it may acquire more overt forms, as they fall outside the scope or outreach of labour laws and enforcement mechanisms.
28. Discrimination can be direct or indirect. It is direct when rules, practices and policies exclude or give preference to certain individuals just because they belong to a particular group. Forms of direct discrimination include job advertisements stating that persons above a certain age need not apply, or human resource practices that require regular pregnancy tests of female employees with a view to refusing to hire or even dismissing those who happen to be pregnant. Discrimination based on pregnancy appears to be on the increase, even in countries that have long combated it and are facing plummeting fertility rates. In the United Kingdom, for example, a recent report by the Equal Opportunities Commission
states that 30,000 women each year lose their jobs because of their pregnancy, and only 3 per cent of those who experience a problem lodge a claim at an employment tribunal. Discrimination also occurs when enterprises recruiting female workers require
them to work for a certain period in the enterprise before being allowed to become pregnant.
29. Discrimination is indirect when apparently neutral norms and practices have a disproportionate effect on one or more identifiable groups, without justification. Organizing training courses outside working hours, for instance, over the weekends or late in the day may exclude workers who may be interested
in attending them but cannot do so because of their family responsibilities, thus compromising their career prospects.
30. The differential treatment of particular categories of workers, in the form of inferior social benefi ts or pay, may also amount to indirect discrimination. The lower legal protection granted everywhere to domestic workers, most of whom are low-income women belonging to racial or ethnic minorities, and who are often foreigners, has been recognized as a form of indirect discrimination based on class, sex, race or migrant status.
31. Structural discrimination is inherent or institutionalized
in social patterns, institutional structures and legal constructs that reflect and reproduce discriminatory practices and outcomes. These may include, for example, differential or inferior conditions of training available to ethnic minorities, or shortcomings in educational, transport and other services in neighbourhoods or ghettoes in which there is a large proportion of ethnic minorities or immigrants.
2. Equal Opportunities Commission: “Pregnancy discrimination: EOC investigation”, at www.eoc.org.uk.
3. Research Centre for Female Labour and Gender, Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs; F. Howell: Equality, labour and social protection for women and men in the formal and informal economy in Viet Nam: Issues for advocacy and policy development (Hanoi, ILO, 2003), p. 90.
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