What is Positive Discrimination?

Positive discrimination is a form of illegal discrimination. This is a type of discrimination in which someone is favoured by treating them differently or positively. An example would be a company hiring someone from an underrepresented group to a position without evaluating if they have the necessary abilities. Other, more competent individuals are passed aside.

Positive discrimination example:

Let's look at an instance to see how positive discrimination may appear:

  • Two candidates are being interviewed for a job; one has a protected trait for which you have a quota (e.g., is a person of colour, and you need to hire more people from non-white backgrounds), while the other is significantly less competent. You hire a person with a protected quality even though they are unsuitable for the position.

Hiring someone who isn't the best fit might have a lot of negative repercussions:

  • The first is that you may put the successful applicant in danger by asking them to perform a function for which they are not qualified, raising their risk of stress or worry.

  • You also put their employment reputation in danger among coworkers, perhaps causing workplace discord. Understandably, other applicants will be dissatisfied and may file a legal challenge to the choice, putting the organisation's image and finances in danger.

  • Finally, a disadvantage to the organisation might occur from hiring someone unable to provide the product, damaging reputation and resulting in a loss of business profits expansion.

There is also a possibility of repercussions for individuals who bring that same protected attribute into the workplace. Regardless of whether they were appointed correctly because they were the best candidate, their earlier positive discrimination may cause them to be regarded differently by their colleagues.

What distinguishes positive discrimination from positive action?

Positive discrimination should not be confused with positive action, which is one of the few exceptions to the discrimination rule. This is because positive action is not intended to, nor is it likely to, discriminate against or negatively influence other groups of individuals in the workplace.

Positive action is legal; however, positive discrimination is illegal. When attempting to diversify your workforce, it is critical to distinguish between positive discrimination and positive action.

Positive action, in broad terms, is when an employer takes reasonable steps to alleviate any disadvantage or remove hurdles or impediments that reasonably believes persons from protected characteristic groups encounter.

An employer may take action to assist job candidates or workers in the following situations:

  • They may be at a disadvantage due to a protected attribute.

  • Because of a protected trait, they are under-represented in the firm or organisation, or their involvement is disproportionately low.

  • They have unique requirements due to a protected trait.