Employers must act to end workplace discrimination: MCRB

By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER

YANGON — The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business has called on employers to end workplace discrimination, in a new briefing paper that has highlighted the systematic exclusion of women and minorities across many of the country’s leading industries.

Published Thursday, the report identifies a number of discriminatory practices aimed at excluding women, the LGBT community, people living with HIV and religious and ethnic minorities from the workforce.

 “The discrimination happening today in the community is mainly a matter of societal attitudes and culture rather than law,” said Ms Vicky Bowman, the MCRB’s executive director, at the report’s launch on Thursday.

“So we would like to see all companies combat discrimination and make a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and equal opportunity as core business values.”

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Among the report’s findings were fewer opportunities for women in the information technology sector, despite more women than men pursuing university qualifications in the field; job notices that specified gender requirements for applicants; and women requiring higher grades than men to enter some industries.

Elsewhere, people with disabilities were barred from government positions and university courses, people belonging to non-Bamar ethnic communities were underrepresented in the workforce, and lower rates of pay for LGBT staff members.

Gender Equality Network director general Dr Kay Thi said that the government’s legal framework fell short of international standards needed to prevent workplace discrimination.

“It is important that decision makers from the government know how to pass an effective law for the people being discriminated against,” she added.

Others at the report launch shared their own experiences of exclusion from the workforce.

U Kyaw Kyaw, founder of the Myanmar Deaf Community Development Association, said he was refused permission to sit the school matriculation exam several times because of his hearing impairment, but persevered to take a diploma in engineering from Mawlamyine University.

He said he had become used to receiving a lower salary than his colleagues since graduating.

Daw Khin Ma Ma Aye, executive director of Colors Rainbow, said a lack of public education left LGBT people stigmatised and excluded from workplaces under suspicion of suffering from HIV.

“They are just humans like everyone, so they need to be treated as humans,” she said.

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