|Even women are racially discriminated at WB|
|Tuesday, 04 December 2012 00:00|
Phyllis MuhammadIn 2009, an op-ed in Foreign Policy in Focus by Bea Edwards, Executive Director of GAP, noted ‘nothing has changed for the better. If anything, the situation has worsened.’ Like McNamara of 1978,
World Bank president Robert Zoellick believed gender discrimination was the bank’s priority, despite the fact that the bank’s own diversity score-cards and reports showed racial discrimination was by far worse.
Two years before Zoellick took the helm of the bank, the Staff Association’s newspaper flagged on its front page, ‘It’s Official: Bank Misses Its Long-Term Target for Black Staff.’ It went on to say, ‘It is a shame, because the target was not that high to begin with.’
The racial diversity target aimed for 10 percent of blacks at the GF pay scale — an entry level professional position.
In contrast, the gender diversity goal aimed to have 50 percent woman managers.
An African staff was rejected by Zoellick after he was cleared for a senior technical management position by two high-level committees independently.
Zoellick rejected the nomination saying the bank ‘can do even better’ and instructed his management team to re-launch the selection process with particular emphasis on women candidates.
When that failed, the President instructed HR to change the selection criteria and re-launch the process again. Eventually, the bank appointed a woman based on the revised job description.
In another case a highly qualified African was sidelined for a mid-level management job and the position given to a woman candidate who was rejected at the short-listing level as she did not meet the advertised selection criteria.
The case reached the bank’s Tribunal, but the Tribunal ruled the bank does not need to follow its own advertised selection criteria when selecting a candidate.
The African staff had seven different racial discrimination cases. In the first two cases the bank mediated and compensated him financially.
In the next three cases the bank’s Tribunal reviewed his charges of discrimination and summarily dismissed them, but found that in each case the bank violated its own HR procedures in the recruitment process in which he was denied higher level positions and awarded him financial compensation.
In the last two cases the Tribunal ruled he could not be compensated because he had been compensated in previous similar cases, even though cases six and seven involved separate matters that were presented on their own merits without relying on any of his previous cases.
Another African was disqualified from competing for a high profile manager position after the bank falsified his HR record and then claimed that he had no management experience to be appointed to the position he had applied for.
In a brazen move that illustrates a breathtakingly lawless environment of impunity, the bank deleted the years of his management track record, removed his managerial title from bank publications and declared that his six years of stellar official performance evaluation ratings as manager were ‘overinflated’ and therefore effectively null and void.
The Tribunal did not acknowledge the Bank’s falsification, nor did it see fit to rectify his record.
GAP’s report presented several materially false, sworn testimonies including misrepresentation of the aggrieved staff’s HR record that should have been offset with irrefutable evidence submitted by the complainant.
The Tribunal’s summary dismissal of the case triggered an uproar leading to an unprecedented intervention by the Staff Association, the US Treasury and the US Executive Director.
The Staff Association contested saying ‘Several aspects of the bank’s justice system are broken.’ Zoellick’s senior management retreated behind the veil of immunity to avoid accountability.
The group approached the bank’s Board of Directors with two legitimate demands. The Board did not even bother to acknowledge the group, much less to respond to its demands.
An informal reply from an African member of the Board provides a telling example. While acknowledging ‘the very disturbing and saddening matter’ he suggested there was not much he could do. He concluded his message with kind wishes for ‘the Almighty's guidance.’
In the above-noted 1978 article, Mr Raspberry wrote, ‘for the bank officials, even while accepting the racial diversity numbers, they see (any request for equality) as a pitch for special treatment — for charity based on pigmentation.’
Thirty-four years later, blacks are still complaining of discrimination and they have hard data to back them up.
Those who run the institution still confuse legitimate demands for equality with a plea for charity.
The Bank should be held accountable to uphold its own principles of staff employment, as well as universal norms which both militate against racial discrimination.
Justice for Blacks has launched a petition drive on www.change.org asking Human Rights Watch to investigate the bank’s human rights violations, citing a breach of Articles 1 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The petition has been signed by over 1400 people from 98 countries and the number is growing. Allowing systemic injustice to stand without accountability and correction would amount to endorsing human rights violations.
The Bank should not be treated as ‘too big to be held accountable’ and blacks should not be treated as ‘too little to count.’ — Pambazuka News.