The following are actual comments made by a few participants to some “Career Resources” articles on the (Canadian) Workopolis web site:
“You know something? I have never seen a job ad which specifically denied the right to apply, to any racial/gender group before, in my life time, other than ‘white male’. White males, and only white males, are told to not even bother applying.”
“…it is all industries in Vancouver that the foreign workers are getting work over Canadians. When are Canadians going to get work? That is what my petpeeve with government jobs as well, minorities get a better shot at being employed because they have to fill the quota to ensure all representation of gender and races is employed.”
“In Toronto, if you are white or Chinese during a certain politician’s reign, it was difficult to get a job unless you are black, east Indian, Pakistanis or disabled. But in Victoria, if you are not a white person, it would be extremely difficult to get a job even if your credentials are much higher than the whites. Their first priority is to hire a white first.”
“…I worked on a project in which we used Twitter to prove that some employers would not call people who had ‘Muslim sounding’ names and established a pattern over an 18 month period.”
“You will not get many interviews if you meet these criteria:
1. You are white
2. You are male
3. You are over 40
4. You are well-educated”
Sounds a lot like what people used to say about immigrants coming to Canada in the 1970’s and 1980’s, until we all learned how to get along, regardless of our race, religion, or gender.
Or have we? I somehow doubt that after reading the above comments. Comments posted in the 21st Century, I might add.
Looking for someone to blame when something really bad happens is nothing new in human history. In fact, our history is replete with many examples, such as the reaction to Germany’s defeat during World War I. The psychological blow to German pride and the economic hardship that followed led to a disturbing belief that Germany did not actually lose the war but was sabotaged from inside by Communists, Jews and non-whites. This in turn built the foundation needed for the National Socialist Party of Germany to seize power and plunge the world into another war, one punctuated by acts of brutality against millions belonging to clearly identifiable groups of society.
We may think we’ve progressed socially since those horrific times in human history. We might believe we are no longer capable of harbouring such prejudice towards others who are different from us. Again, I have my doubts. My personal belief is that the only progress we’ve made is how to put on a better poker face when dealing with others. I’m reminded of an excellent speech from, of all things, a science fiction series called “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” where an alien named Quark reminds his nephew that we humans are not so enlightened and open-minded once our creature comforts are taken away. When this happens, our base emotions and true intentions become clearly stated.
The search for work in a jobless recovery is indeed trying. I know from personal experience how physically and psychologically damaging it can be, how it left me struggling to answer the question, “Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?”. Others may have already drawn their own conclusions, coming to the belief in the form of comments above that certain ethnic or gender groups are taking jobs away, if not the government of the day showing preferential treatment towards those groups when it comes to being hired.
Is this true? Are there really hiring quotas based on identifiable traits such as gender or ethnicity? While I personally do not believe so, the high frequency of surveys such as this one presented to me whenever I fill out a job application makes me (and many others) question if there is indeed a level playing field when it comes to hiring.
In 1989, a Canadian white-supremacist group called the Heritage Front was formed. This group tapped into the anger and frustration white Canadians had about employment equity in hiring, citing examples such as the questionnaire I linked and nearly making the concept of “White Pride” acceptable in mainstream society. Thankfully, their true intentions were revealed not only by the Anti-Racist League but also by a CSIS plant, leading to the group being disbanded in 2005. Still, the group revealed a very toxic mood in our supposedly tolerant and open society, one that can quickly grow without warning given the right conditions. We only need to look to the events in Germany following World War I as proof.
Making the elimination of chronic unemployment a top priority not only gives back the dignity of each and every person who wants to work, it also ensures our open and tolerant multicultural society will continue to thrive and prosper.
Thanks for reading!