Northern Ireland's affirmative action programme for fair employment shows success

26 November 2009

A study by a research team from the University of Oxford has found a direct association between the programme and improvements in fair employment, both for Catholics and Protestants.

Since 1989, Northern Ireland's affirmative action programme has used legal enforcement measures that aim to ensure that both communities in Northern Ireland - Catholics and Protestants - are ensured ‘fair participation’ in employment.

This approach to inequality of opportunity is radically different from the approach in the rest of the UK and is also somewhat different from the much better-known American affirmative action programme. The outcome of the Northern Ireland approach may well have important implications for other jurisdictions such as the EU that are considering how to tackle issues of fair employment (for example in the context of ethnic inequalities in the labour market).

For a description of this Nuffield-funded study, its findings and policy implications, see the University of Oxford website.