Discrimination in employment and occupation takes many forms, and occurs in all kinds of work settings. It entails treating people differently because of certain characteristics, such as race, colour or sex, which results in the impairment of equality of opportunity and treatment. In other words, discrimination results in and reinforces inequalities. The freedom of human beings to develop their capabilities and to choose and pursue their professional and personal aspirations is restricted, without regard for ability. Skills and competencies cannot be developed, rewards to work are denied and a sense of humiliation, frustration and powerlessness takes over.
The elimination of discrimination at work is central to social justice, which lies at the heart of the ILO’s mandate. It underpins the concept of decent work for all women and men, which is founded on the notion of equal opportunities for all those who work or seek work and a living, whether as labourers, employers or self-employed, in the formal or the informal economy. The elimination of discrimination is an indispensable part of any viable strategy for poverty reduction and sustainable economic development.