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Ethnicity as a New Discourse in Hiring of Senior Staff in Kenya’s Public Universities

Abstract:The dominant discourse on ethnicity in Kenya focuses on political conflicts and political powers yet employment and marginalization of ethnic minority groups resonates well with regional empowerment and political participation. This study sought to investigate what is the logic behind ethnicity as a factor that influences hiring of labor in Kenya. The author proposed the taste-based discrimination model of Lippens, Baert, Ghekiere, Verhaeghe and Devous (2020) to anchor the study on the non-inclusion of minority ethnic groups who were not hired competitively even when they qualified for the jobs they sought. This is because according to the study, ethnicity plays a key role in hiring decisions. This exposes job applicants to unequal hiring practices that deny them significant economic benefits. The study adopted exploratory research design in which qualitative approach wasutilized. Data was collected through desk review of literature and policy documents on ethnicity in the hiring of labor. The study found that ethnicity is more situational with no valid reasons. The study also found because of lack of validity, social-economic non-inclusion is a prominent feature among the minority groups when ethnicity influences hiring, that ethnic environment influenced hiring and ethnic groups with no members placed in high places of power were unlikely to get jobs. Thus the study concluded that there was no logic in use of ethnicity in the hiring of labor and that it led to unequal and inequitable hiring practices. The study recommends reviewing of practices that constitute social and economic exclusion when hiring and that the government of Kenya recognizes alternative means that would be more suitable to address the ethnic hiring practices such as enforcing the Employment Act of 2007. This would have more significance in policy application, implementation and that appropriate and effective actions are taken when hiring is not appropriately carried out according to the existing law. Key words:Ethnicity, Hiring, Logic, Labor

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