Poor Wee Fockers

Trigger warning – Massive cynicism – A friend of mine put up a post on Facebook. She was asking peoples views on reverse discrimination. This is where people from disadvantaged groups are often favoured over others so as to create opportunities for them in employment or education. Apparently some non-disabled folk take umbrage to this type of discrimination. They claim it discriminates against non-disabled people. I am going to be rather undiplomatic and say – POOR WEE FOCKERS!!

And really, I mean it. I really have no patience for these non-disabled people who think that by creating employment opportunities or education opportunities for people with a disability, it is unfair because these non-disabled are overlooked. It astonishes me.

For many years now there have been various policies of Affirmative Action. In the 70’s there was a strong push to create opportunities for women, particularly in management positions. It needed to be done because men had dominated the playing field for so long there was no way that many women could compete. Particularly in the 70s where many people still believed that a woman’s place was in the home.

I am sure there were many men at that time who asked, “What about me?” – I guess the same principle applies to them. – Poor wee fockers!!!

It is a truism that there is no such thing as equal opportunity in our world. We like to think there is, but there is not. A whole host of things come into play – Disability, wealth, gender, Aboriginality, socio economic background and so on. Some people, and this is true, are born with silver spoons in their mouth. A bit like like Donald Trump – ” I had it hard, my dad only gave me a million dollars.”

But it is true, by virtue of birth people have advantage. That is not to say that people don’t work up from the slums and become successful, it is just a fact that it is a lot harder for them to do so. This is why we have a concept of equity, because equal opportunity is really a Utopian idea that doesn’t exist and probably never will.

Equity is very different from equal opportunity. Equity takes into consideration all of the barriers that people of disadvantaged background have. For example many Universities have policies that aim to increase representation of students from postcodes that are known to have a high representation of people from low socio-economic backgrounds. They offer scholarships and programs targeted at these postcodes. Student Equity representatives create awareness and encourage people from these postcodes to consider University education.

Other programs target women to increase their representation in trades. This is in traditionally male dominated trades like mechanics, building or carpentry. TAFE and the Government recognise that women are under-represented in these areas and are often pushed in to “traditional” women’s work like nursing, teaching and so on. The reverse is true in teaching where they need more male teachers.

There are also many programs that target people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. The disadvantage that these people have can be horrendous. So employment, education and leadership opportunities are created for them to try and assist them out of the awful disadvantage that they as a people and culture face everyday.

Likewise, there are programs aimed at people with a disability. But the problem with many these programs for people with a disability is that they aim just to get people in a job or into study and little else. So if Johnny with IQ of 165 is stocking shelves, then that’s just dandy.

Ok, I exaggerate, but only a little. I know for a fact that many people that have a disability and are working within organisations that support people with a disability, have been in the same job for many years, with no promotion.

Often these disability organisations will hold these people up as beacon of light. “Look at us…”, they will say, “We have five people with a disability working for us, and one on the Board.” While neglecting to point out that they employ over 500 people and every person in a leadership and management role is a non-disabled person. And that Board member, the solitary disability representative among a Board of twenty.

This is no exaggeration, this is the reality. Certainly, in the Deaf sector it is improving with several Deaf CEOs in the role now, but still the control is very much with hearing people on Boards and still the majority of hearing people are in management and leadership roles.

And you will hear the excuses. “OH!.. But it needs to be merit based ..” or “Oh!, But we need have the right skills and experience…” or “Oh!, But the person we chose had 35 years of experience and none of the disabled people who applied could match that.” And the list goes on.

It will stay that way forever unless proactive policy and recruitment policies are not initiated. It will stay that way unless proactive policies are not initiated to promote people with a disability into leadership and management roles. It will stay that way if people expect people with disability to compete on experience alone, knowing full well the disadvantage they have and the lack of opportunities offered to them.

I am sorry, but you non-disabled people who think you are discriminated against by reverse discrimination really need to understand the concept of equity and disadvantage. Equity policy has helped to even the playing field, but as yet it’s nowhere near even. For god sake, women are still paid less than men for doing the same work!!!

So to those non-disabled that think providing opportunities and creating leadership roles for people with a disability who have the ability to do these roles is discriminating against them, I say to you … “FOCK OFF”


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