Equal Opportunity Day Takes place annually on 19 November. The purpose of Equal opportunities day is to encourage equal opportunities in the workplace and in other areas of life and to educate those who feel they are not being given equal opportunities, about the things they can do to improve the situation.
Equal opportunities (also known as equality of opportunity) arise from the similar treatment of all people, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular distinctions can be explicitly justified. According to this often complex and contested concept, the intent is that important jobs in an organization should go to those persons who are the “most qualified” – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for reasons deemed arbitrary or irrelevant, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, having well-connected relatives or friends, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Though accommodation of persons with special needs and disabilities are done through job restructuring activities considering their potential for same level of performance, for experiencing same level of benefits and privileges as others.
Chances for advancement should be open to everybody interested, such that they have “an equal chance to compete within the framework of goals and the structure of rules established”. The idea is to remove arbitrariness from the selection process and base it on some “pre-agreed basis of fairness, with the assessment process being related to the type of position” and emphasizing procedural and legal means. Individuals should succeed or fail based on their own efforts and not extraneous circumstances such as having well-connected parents. It is opposed to nepotism and plays a role in whether a social structure is seen as legitimate. The concept is applicable in areas of public life in which benefits are earned and received such as employment and education, although it can apply to many other areas as well. Equal opportunity is central to the concept of meritocracy.
The concept of Equal opportunities assumes that society is stratified with a diverse range of roles, some of which are more desirable than others The benefit of equality of opportunity is to bring fairness to the selection process for coveted roles in corporations, associations, nonprofits, universities and elsewhere. According to one view, there is no “formal linking” between equality of opportunity and political structure, in the sense that there can be equality of opportunity in democracies, autocracies and in communist nations,although it is primarily associated with a competitive market economy and embedded within the legal frameworks of democratic societies. People with different political perspectives see equality of opportunity differently: liberals disagree about which conditions are needed to ensure it and many “old-style” conservatives see inequality and hierarchy in general as beneficial out of a respect for tradition. It can apply to a specific hiring decision, or to all hiring decisions by a specific company, or rules governing hiring decisions for an entire nation. The scope of equal opportunity has expanded to cover more than issues regarding the rights of minority groups, but covers practices regarding “recruitment, hiring, training, layoffs, discharge, recall, promotions, responsibility, wages, sick leave, vacation, overtime, insurance, retirement, pensions, and various other benefits”.
The concept has been applied to numerous aspects of public life, including accessibility of polling stations, care provided to HIV patients, whether men and women have equal opportunities to travel on a spaceship, bilingual education,skin color of models in Brazil, television time for political candidates, army promotions, admittance to universities and ethnicity in the United States.The term is interrelated with and often contrasted with other conceptions of equality such as equality of outcome and equality of autonomy. Equal opportunity emphasizes the personal ambition and talent and abilities of the individual, rather than his or her qualities based on membership in a group, such as a social class or race or extended family. Further, it is seen as unfair if external factors that are viewed as being beyond the control of a person significantly influence what happens to him or her. Equal opportunity then emphasizes a fair process whereas in contrast equality of outcome emphasizes a fair outcome. In sociological analysis, equal opportunity is seen as a factor correlating positively with social mobility, in the sense that it can benefit society overall by maximizing well-being. There are different types of equality:
Formal equality of opportunity: This is sometimes referred to as the nondiscrimination principle or described as the absence of direct discrimination, or described in the narrow sense as equality of access. It is a basic “no frills” or “narrow” approach to equality of opportunity, a minimal standard of sorts, limited to the public sphere as opposed to private areas such as the family, marriage, or religion. What is considered “fair” and “unfair” is spelled out in advance and that:
“There should be an equal opportunity for all. Each and every person should have as great or as small an opportunity as the next one. There should not be the unfair, unequal, superior opportunity of one individual over another.”
John Roemer, used the term nondiscrimination principle to mean that “all individuals who possess the attributes relevant for the performance of the duties of the position in question be included in the pool of eligible candidates, and that an individual’s possible occupancy of the position be judged only with respect to those relevant attributes”.
Substantive equality of opportunity,: This sometimes called fair equality of opportunity, is a somewhat broader and more expansive concept than the more limiting formal equality of opportunity and it deals with what is sometimes described as indirect discrimination. It goes farther and is more controversial than the formal variant; and has been thought to be much harder to achieve, with greater disagreement about how to achieve greater equality; and has been described as “unstable”, particularly if the society in question is unequal to begin with in terms of great disparity of wealth. It has been identified as more of a left-leaning political position, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule. The substantive model is advocated by people who see limitations in the formal model:
In the substantive approach, the starting point before the race begins is unfair since people have had differing experiences before even approaching the competition. The substantive approach examines the applicants themselves before applying for a position and judges whether they have equal abilities or talents; and if not, then it suggests that authorities (usually the government) take steps to make applicants more equal before they get to the point where they compete for a position and fixing the before-the-starting-point issues has sometimes been described as working towards “fair access to qualifications”. It seeks to remedy inequalities perhaps because of an “unfair disadvantage” based sometimes on “prejudice in the past”.