The activity that I have chosen for my citizenship coursework is my work experience for two weeks in my local Sainsbury’s. The aim of my project is: to see how equal opportunities is dealt with in the workplace.

I will also look at the different jobs and responsibilities of people I met during my workplace. I will also hope to learn about the different perspectives of Sainsbury’s advertising department in terms of equal opportunities.

I chose to do my investigation into equal opportunities at my work experience because I thought it was the most important and critical situation as I wanted to see if there is segregation between different groups. Before I could undertake this research I had to find a placement where I could easily research this problem. Therefore I decided I should work in my local supermarket Sainsbury’s where I could easily undertake my research. I found this placement by looking in yellow pages and internet for any work experience placement and I was fortunate to find this.

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My work experience will not only be an opportunity for me to see what this area of work is like, it will also be an opportunity for me to see as an Asian male, the types of job roles available to me. I will also use my two weeks of work experience from 20th June till 9th July. I then had pre-placement interview on the 8th of June, which I discussed my coursework plans with Elena who would be my boss for the durations of the two weeks. We discussed how I would be working with members and which sections I would be allowed to work. This way I could learn exactly their job role in the company. I also discussed my action plan and organised how the two weeks would be broken down in to.

Therefore on my work experience I would be doing two things, firstly I would be getting an experience of the outside world I would be facing in a couple of years and another thing I would be doing would be looking and learning about equal opportunities in the workplace. I discussed with her how I would be hoping to gain and understand a great deal about equal opportunities in the workplace and looked at different aspect of it such as the comparison between males and female regarding their pay and positions.

For my coursework I would be using both primary and secondary research to collect information for my equal opportunity. Primary research that I will undertake is taking interviews from different sectors of the workforce, including the manager to see what their roles are in enforcing that equal opportunity is not infringed. Also I will ask some of the staff to ask for their opinions and feelings towards equal opportunities in Sainsbury’s workplace. The advantage of using interviews to collect information is that I will be able to get a lot of specific information which leads in to more detail. However, the downside of it is that it is time consuming and I will only be able to get information from only a couple of the workers in the company. Another primary research I will use is questionnaire, these are a good way to see people’s opinion as they are quick and I can ask a lot of questions regarding equal opportunities. The disadvantage of using questionnaires is that someone could interpret a question in the wrong way and therefore jeopardise the accuracy of the questionnaire.

As well primary research I will use secondary sources to collect information, one of the secondary research I will use is the internet, this can be used to find definitions of what certain words mean such as equal opportunity. However the disadvantage of using the internet is that the sources might be outdated, which can alter and jeopardise my research.

Some of the questions I will investigate will lead to answering my hypothesis will be:

1) What is meant by “equal opportunities” in the workplace?

This question can be answered by using secondary sources such as the internet and books in the library, also I will look into the legal positions related to equal opportunities in the workplace. Therefore, I will use the information I have gathered to use it as my background knowledge when I am undertaking this investigation.

2) How does the workplace cater for disabled people?

In order to answer this question, I will have to interview the manager of the Sainsbury’s to see how they cater for disabled people. I will then take notes from the interview to try and learn the procedures the company will go through to help disabled people in the workplace.

3) Whose responsibility is it to ensure equal opportunities in the overall workplace?

To be able to answer this question, I will have to interview the owner of Sainsbury to see what he does to ensure equal opportunity is followed and not broken. I will also ask him about the roles and responsibilities in reference to maintaining equal opportunities.

4) Are men and women paid on average, the same amount?

To be able to answer this question I will have to each staff to complete a questionnaire from which I can see if both genders are nearly paid the same. I would try and look at people’s wages in ranges and their positions and compare the wage of people in similar positions while looking at their age, sex, race etc… I would then use my information to display my results in a graphs etc… and then compare it national and local statistics.

Work Experience diary

Monday:

Today was the first day of my work experience, and when I arrived I met Elena the person that would be my boss for the duration of the 2 weeks. She told me today would be the induction where she would talk about the policy of Sainsbury’s and also show me around, so I can become familiar with the surroundings. We started by first her introducing the place and who the owner of Sainsbury’s. She talked about the security of the place and about how the staffs are meant to treat customers with respect. She then put on a video about equal opportunity which was perfect for my investigation. Inside the video the owner of Sainsbury’s was talking about how everyone should be treated the same, no matter their age, gender, culture or religion. I was very interested and looking forward to see if this has been put into action, and that it is not just talks.

After the video, she gave me a Staff uniform, which I was meant to wear while I was working. She then took me around and showed me where the changing room, kitchen etc… After Lunch, she took me to the warehouse and she showed me where food is transported from.

Tuesday:

Today was my first official working day. Elena introduced me to the bread department manger, Eric. He told me how he has a responsibility of making sure everyone in his department are working hard and reaching the time limit. He told me if they don’t reach the time to finish their job for the day. They have the responsibility of staying late to finish their particular job.

In the afternoon, I joined him to see his particular role, and how hard it is to reach the time limit. This job was quite challenging as you had to take out the products out of their respective boxes and the challenging bit was the stacking. It was challenging because each item had their own particular arrangement. If an item took two rows of space then you couldn’t fit anything else next to it. This job was quite like a puzzle.

Wednesday:

Today I was working in the meat department, with another trainee called Steve. I was supposed to do the labelling, of the price. Also I had to check what items expiry date had run or are about to run out. The ones that had run out where put into a separate basket which was taken downstairs into the bin. I was very glad to see that they didn’t reuse them or use them for other uses. The items that were going to run out in a day or two were stacked in the front row and had a discounted price tag on it, which was my job.

Thursday:

Today I was working inside the office, with the graphic manager. For the first couple of hours he showed me how to use Computer Aided Design (CAD). He told me he was the supervisor and manager of making the stickers on the products. He told me exactly how each information was meant to be presented. He then told me to design one label. This took me all day, but I was really excited and enjoyed it, as I like to work with computers.

Friday:

Today was an exceptional day, I had the opportunity to spend the whole day with the manager of this branch of Sainsbury’s. I started the morning interviewing him about equal opportunity in the workplace. He began by telling me his role and responsibility in the workplace, which is the manager of Sainsbury’s, Hammersmith. I learnt that he plays a major role in enforcing and ensuring that equal opportunity in the workplace. He said he tries very hard to make sure equal opportunity is carried out towards the current and future employees. Today I learnt that Sainsbury’s through its equal opportunity scheme does follow the law, for example, ensuring no discrimination against gender or race in the workplace.

What is meant by “equal opportunities” in the workplace?

Equal opportunities is a descriptive term, which means eliminating discrimination due to age, race, culture, gender and religious beliefs. There are several different acts that have been introduced to try and eliminate difference in the workplace, they include:

– Equal Pay Act 1970: This act entitles everyone to earn the same money no matter what gender in the same employment.

– Sex Discrimination Act 1975: This act is intended to prohibit discrimination due to an employer’s gender or if they are married.

– Race Relations Act 1976: The race relation act set up in 1976 made it illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their colour, nationality, race, national and or ethnic origin.

– Disability discrimination Act 1995: This act makes it unlawful for people to discriminate against someone because they have a disability.

– Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003: This act bans discrimination against sexual orientation, whether a person is gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.

– Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003: This law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of what the employer’s beliefs are.

– Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006: This act prohibits to unreasonably discriminating against the age of employees.

There are several governing bodies that will help you, in the case of discrimination. The three main bodies are the equal opportunities commission, the disability rights commission and the commission for racial equality.

The government has plans to bring all these three commissions in to one to make it easier for citizens.

Conclusion

To conclude, I think Sainsbury’s do promote equal opportunities. I can tell this because during my work experience I saw staff from different backgrounds and also different religions. There were roughly more men than women working, but this can be explained as women are less likely to want to work in a supermarket. On the other hand, most of the managers of each department were male workers, in fact there was only one female middle manager in the whole store. Also employees in the same job work earned different amounts the reason for that was because of job experience and that they had been with the company for a while.

Evaluation

Overall, I think my work experience went very well, however, I feel like if I had more time working with the company I could have found more details into equal opportunity and have a chance to work with other employees and find their experience of life and if they have been discriminated.

There was some limitations such as, I wanted to have an interview with the company’s owner to see his insight of equal opportunity and to see what he had to say on this topic, but unfortunately he was too busy and therefore I was unable to interview him.

I feel that this work experience has helped me for the future, however even though I don’t have an ambition of working in a supermarket it still gave me valuable experience on how to tackle problems and how to work in a group which will be vital and useful for any jobs in the future. Working in Sainsbury’s was particularly good because I had the chance to be around with customers and help them with their needs, which will be of valuable experience to me in the future. Also the topic on equal opportunities especially helped me with being able to find out how far companies tried to tackle equal rights to everyone in UK, no matter their gender, race etc…

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