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Positive action and the problem of merit: employment policies in the National Health Service

Johns, Nicholas 2005. Positive action and the problem of merit: employment policies in the National Health Service. Critical Social Policy 25 (2) , pp. 139-163. 10.1177/0261018305051323

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Since its election in 1997 the Labour government has emphasized the need for greater ethnic diversity in the public sector, a priority which has become even more pronounced since the publication of the Macpherson Report (1999). One of the key means of achieving this goal has been the use of positive action, within a policy of ‘race’ equality mainstreaming. This article, drawn from a national mail survey and a supporting interview survey, suggests that this approach may fail in the National Health Service at least, owing to the suspicion that positive action naturally leads to positive discrimination. Ironically, it may be easier to take a more radical route by introducing ethnic components to selection criteria and processes, than to adopt its current strategy. Ultimately, it is argued, diversity should not be used to overcome a recruitment crisis, nor should it be employed as a cynical means of pushing responsibility on to minority ethnic communities.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Uncontrolled Keywords: diversity; ethnicity; positive discrimination; representation
Publisher: Sage Publishing
ISSN: 0261-0183
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2020 02:23

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