Two major ethnic groups dominate top posts in public, private sectors
Stabroek News
March 23, 2007

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A study of employment practices in Region Four has revealed that Guyanese within the two major ethnic groups fill the top positions in the private and public sectors compared to other groups.

Consultant Pamela Rodney, who conducted the study commissioned by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), said at a press conference held at the ERC office, Peter Rose and Anira Street, Queenstown that Guyanese of African descent dominate the top three positions in the private sector, while Guyanese of East Indian descent dominate the top three positions in the public sector.

Some 25 private sector organizations were targeted for the research, but only 14 consented to participate and only ten organizations returned questionnaires; with 100 employees participating.

The research titled 'Employment Practices in the Public and Private Sectors in Region Four' studied data from August 2001 to August 2006 in the region, through stratified random sampling and surveys of employees. It encompassed looking at the equitable distribution of employment to the different ethnic groups in Guyana.

According to the executive summary, the organizations also include trades union. Current staff lists as well as employment records of incoming and outgoing staff and reasons for employees' exit were examined for the period August 2001 to August 2006, along with data from the Industrial Department, Ministry of Labour.

The analysis of the staff levels were carried out based on a four-tier structure: the senior, middle and first levels and the ancillary positions such as cleaners, office assistants, factory workers and drivers. "The data suggests that in the public sector a higher proportion of East Indians occupies positions at the senior, middle and first levels than Africans, the majority of whom occupy ancillary positions," the report said.

The research data also suggests that Amerindians occupy positions at the senior, middle and first levels, but not at the ancillary level in the public sector. People of the mixed race seem to be in a position similar to Africans, the research found, with 50% of them occupying ancillary level positions and nearly 17% occupying positions in each of the upper levels (senior, middle and first). On the other hand, the "Other" group or races occupy positions at two levels only, senior and first, 50% at each level.

"In the private sector, higher proportions of Africans occupy the highest categories of positions. Senior, middle and first, compared to the East Indians, where the finding indicates the reverse."

In this sector, the proportions for Africans are 11%, 12% and 24% in comparison to 7%, 7.9% and 22.8% for the East Indians at the three highest levels. In comparison, the ancillary staff is 62% for East Indians and 53% for Africans. "Other" races (including Chinese but not mixed races) also seem to occupy two positions, the study said, the first level with a lower proportion of 37.5% and the majority 62.5% the ancillary level. More of the mixed race occupy positions at the middle level (34%) than at the other levels in the private sector.

For trades union organizations, the majority of the East Indians occupy first level positions, followed by senior and ancillary on an equal basis of 17% each. For Africans, a substantial proportion occupies first and senior level positions. The smallest proportion of Africans occupies the ancillary positions in trade union organizations. Notably, Amerindians and "Others" seem to occupy the senior level positions at 100%.

It was also found that traditionally and up to 1992, more Africans accounted for majority of the regular positions, but this has changed in the public and private sectors and the trades union organizations in the study.

The majority of recruitments have been of East Indians, totalling 50% compared to 47% among Africans during the period under review. But the public sector was the largest employer of the Africans, while the private sector recruited more East Indians.

Africans also accounted for more persons who exited organizations, with 87% exiting the private sector, compared with to 83% of East Indians, while the "others" seemed not to have exited their positions in the organizations under review.

It was also found that 83% of the organizations surveyed did not have procedures for addressing discrimination and an overall majority of the human resources personnel practitioners that responded for the organizations, felt that employers should attempt to employ all racial groups. Among the recommendations made is that a major Employment Monitoring Commission (EMC) should be established to monitor employment policies and practices within organizations.

The proposed EMC would be tasked with developing a proactive equity plan for all employment sectors and working closely with the ERC to address all claims of discrimination in the work-place. The researcher also recommended that organizations update their employment records regularly.

She also expressed the hope that the information and data collected in this study would be utilized in the decision-making process in the relevant organizations.

Within the next 30 days this report is expected to be tabled in the National Assembly by way of a motion.