Most people opposed racial, cultural, and sexual abuse, and reject job discrimination as immoral. But as the paucity of minority coaches reveals, explicit prejudice and overt discrimination are just part of the problem. Even open-minded people may operate on implicit assumptions that work to the disadvantage of women and minorities, and many who believe themselves to be unprejudiced harbour unconscious racist or sexist attitudes.

Determining whether discrimination occurs in employment depends on: whether the decision is a function of an employee’s or job applicants’ membership in a certain group, rather than individual merit; whether the decision is based in prejudice, false stereotypes, or the assumption that the group is in some way inferior and thus deserving of unequal treatment; and whether the decision in some way harms those it’s aimed at.

Individual can intentionally discriminate out of personal prejudice or on the basis of stereotypes. An example is the executive who purposely disregarded job applications from whom because be believe that they “should be home taking care of their husbands and children.” On the other hand, individuals may discriminate because they unconsciously accept traditional practices or biased stereotype. Institutions sometimes discriminate explicitly and intentionally. For example, organisation that screen out older applicants. On the other hand, the routine operating procedures that it is not fully aware of.

In addition, institutional practices that appear neutral and non-discriminatory may harm members of groups that are traditionally discriminated against. When membership in a union, for instance, requires nomination by those who are already members, a kind of exclusion is likely to result even if the motivation of those who do the nominating is purely nepostistic and results from no kind of motivation ill will or stereotyping.

Discrimination involves false assumptions about the inferiority of a certain group and harms individual members of that group, so utilitarians would reject it because of its ill effects on total human welfare. For duty-based morality, it would clearly repudiate it as failing to respect people as ends in themselves. Universalising the maxim, underlying discriminatory practices is virtually impossible. No people who now discriminate would be willing to accept such treatment themselves. Discrimination on grounds of sex, culture, or race also violates people’s basic moral rights and mocks the ideal of human moral equality. On the other hand, there are no respectable arguments in favour of racial and sexual discrimination. Whatever racist or sexist attitudes people might actually have, no one today is prepared to to defend job discrimination publicly anymore than someone would publicly depend slavery.


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