Today, many businesses face a multitude of challenges that may meddle with their functionality, and in extreme cases lead to their failure or collapse. Although some of these challenges such as poor management, corruption and reduced productivity may be dependent on the nature or organizational structure of the company, most of the challenges such as technological changes, political instabilities, globalization and reduced economic growth and development are common across industries, and are faced by a majority of businesses.
Social Challenges/Problems faced by Organizations
A social problem is an issue that affects a majority of people living together as a community or society. Social problems usually affect individuals as well as organizations. Examples of major social problems faced by individuals and businesses today include racism, environmental pollution, domestic violence, drugs and substance abuse, high rates of unemployment, food shortages, income inequality and high levels of poverty amongst others. Most social problems relate to each other. Regardless of individual and organizational goals, leaders and business managers in all organizations are responsible for formulation and implementation of appropriate approaches and methods for solving these social problems as well as ensuring that the problems do not reoccur in the future.
Workplace Discrimination and Gender Discrimination
Many workers receive various forms of discriminations. Workplace discrimination refers to any form of maltreatment directed or projected towards an individual or individuals at the workplace based on certain differences that exist amongst them as workers such as age, race and gender. Dipboye and Colella (2010) define workplace discrimination as unequal treatment of workers who possess the same performance capabilities, skills and qualifications based on various factors such as ethnicity, race, nationality, origin, age and gender amongst others.
In my view, discrimination at the workplace entails denying an employee or a group of employees access to certain organizational resources, opportunities or privileges. For example, an employee may be discriminated during recruitment, selection, promotions, training and development and rewarding. Different forms of discrimination exist at the workplace, for example, age discrimination, racial discrimination, religion discrimination, disability discrimination and gender discrimination. This paper focuses on gender discrimination against women.
Gender Discrimination as a Social Problem
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Gender discrimination at the workplace occurs when an employee, usually a female worker, or a group of employees are maltreated or mistreated based on their femininity. According to Neumark (2011), gender discrimination is the most prevalent form of discrimination in many organizations today.
Causes of Gender Discrimination at the Workplace
Most female employees are discriminated due to a variety of factors. The main cause of gender discrimination at the workplace is gender stereotypes and assumptions formed against women, for example, most people assume that female workers cannot perform as effectively as male workers can. Most employers believe that women perform poorly at work. However, a research study by Miller and Browne (2009) on the performance and productivity of workers in major companies in the United States between 2007 and 2008 revealed that there is no relationship or link between workplace performance and gender. In contrast to commonly held stereotypes about women, the research disclosed that women often supersede men at the workplace.
Challenges of Gender Discrimination
Gender discrimination at the workplace poses numerous challenges to both the workers and organizations. Some of the challenges include low motivation, loss of self-confidence, low self-esteem, increased stress levels, reduced teamwork, poor communication and development of repulsive and destructive behaviors amongst workers. Moreover, gender discrimination against women also leads to increased income gap between male and female workers as a result of wage discrimination based on gender, increased employee turnover and creation of hostile work environments. Gender discrimination also advances harassment and violence against female workers. According to Karsten (2008), these challenges caused by gender discrimination at the workplace can be broadly categorized into physical, socio-economic and psychological and behavioral impacts.
Importance of Addressing Discrimination of Women at the Workplace
Gender discrimination is harmful to both the organization and the workers as well as to the society as a whole. Gender discrimination usually results into extreme consequences that affect the performance of workers and productivity and profitability of an organization. Therefore, gender discrimination should be addressed adequately in order to prevent and evade possible business failure.
Roles of Non-Profit Organizations on Gender Discrimination
The various roles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or not-for-profit organizations in prevention and eradication of discrimination of women at the workplace include advocating for provision of equal employment opportunities for both men and women, raising awareness on unreported cases of gender discrimination and empowering women to work harder and succeed at the workplace.
Non-governmental organizations should also report cases or incidences of gender discrimination to relevant authorities such as government regulatory agencies, state labor offices and courts of law. In addition, not-for-profits organizations must ensure that the human rights of women such as equal pay, safety and healthy work environments and freedom of association are not infringed, violated or breached by employers.
Roles of the Government on Gender Discrimination
In relation to elimination and eradication of discrimination of women at the workplace, the government is responsible for ensuring that appropriate disciplinary actions are taken against employers who discriminate against women. The government should also levy heavy fines and penalties on organizations and individuals who are found guilty of discriminating against women at the workplace. The government should also formulate and implement strict anti-discrimination policies that aim at preventing and discouraging discrimination of women at the workplace.
Similarly, the government should enact and enforce laws that prohibit employee discrimination and ensure that all employers adhere to such laws. The government may also recruit investigators to probe and query cases of gender discrimination at the workplace. The government is also responsible for sensitizing and creating awareness amongst the public on the negative impacts of discrimination of women at the workplace such as reduced productivity and low employee morale.
Additionally, the government should act as a role model to individual and corporate employers by ensuring that the ratio of men to women employed as civil or public servants is proportionate and well-balanced, and reflects the provision of equal employment opportunities to men and women.
Last but not least, the government should ensure that justice is administered to women who have reportedly suffered from gender discrimination at the workplace, for example, by forcing employers to compensate workers who have been affected by gender discrimination.
Approaches for Dealing with Discrimination of Women at the Workplace in the Future
In my view, the first approach for eradicating discrimination against women at the workplace is to recognize and accept that the vice exists within the organization. After recognizing the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace, appropriate approaches and strategies are then developed for eliminating the vice. Some of the approaches that I would use as a leader to deal with discriminations against women in the organization include formulation of anti-discrimination policies, development of diversity programs, performing workplace audits and continuous education and training of workers on discrimination issues.
Secondly, I would formulate and implement anti-discrimination policies that plainly define, explain and describe what amounts to gender discrimination and the expected and acceptable conducts within the workplace. For example, I would formulate hiring and promotion policies that would ensure that employees are recruited and promoted based on their qualifications, overall contributions to the organization and performance records. These policies must also use comprehensible language that is easy to understand. Moreover, the anti-discrimination policies must strongly prohibit and proscribe discrimination o women in the organization. The policies should also give powers to the management of the organization to punish or discipline any person who gets involved in discriminatory practices within the company. Similarly, I would also make sure that state and federal laws on employee discrimination are made part of organizational policies such as human capital management policies. The policies must also clearly outline various consequences that are likely to be faced due to gender discrimination.
Thirdly, I would approach discrimination of women at the workplace by developing various programs that aim at increasing diversity at the workplace. These diversity programs would aim at promoting and encouraging gender diversity within the company. Young (2008), Burstein (2011) and Canas and Sondak (2011) affirm that discriminations against women within most organizations usually result from lack of gender diversity. Thus, I would develop diversity programs that provide equal representation of both genders in the organization. Examples of diversity programs that I would use include provision of equal employment opportunities to all workers regardless of their gender, transparent recruitment, selection and retention of workers and conducting awareness campaigns to encouraging employees to embrace gender diversity within the organization.
Fourthly, I would develop and implement various educational and training programs to teach and enlighten employees on gender-related issues. These education and training programs would focus on issues of gender discrimination and how discrimination of women ruins interpersonal relationship at the workplace. Other effects of gender discrimination such as reduced productivity, creation of hostile working environments and demoralization of female workers would also be addressed. For my part, education and training programs would enable workers to explore various solutions and remedies for gender discrimination at the workplace. These programs would also encourage exchange of ideas and information between workers, thus creating better understanding on how to deal with discrimination of women.
As leader, I would also perform periodic audits at the workplace to determine internal practices or conditions that encourage discrimination of women within the organization. In my view, workplace audits would facilitate identification of organizational weaknesses and loopholes that promote gender discrimination. Appropriate prevention and control measures would then be developed.
Lastly, I would ensure that the organization remains responsive to various issues and threats that may lead to gender discrimination, for example, by strategizing alternative solutions to complaints from female workers about discrimination at the workplace. For my part, I would emphasize that no particular gender should be accorded privileged treatment at the workplace.
How Individual Citizens should address Discrimination of Women at the Workplace
In my view, individual citizens should address discrimination of women at the workplace by changing their socio-cultural beliefs, values and practices, thinking and attitudes in relation to gender roles in the society. People should stop undermining the capabilities of women and begin embracing gender diversity at the workplace.
In brief, I would argue that business leaders and employers should stop gender discrimination at the workplace by ensuring that all workers are given equal opportunities and fair treatments. No worker should be favored or unflavored because of his or her gender. All employees should be treated equally regardless of social, economic, religious, political or personal differences that may exist amongst them. In my view, elimination of discriminations against women at the workplace will assist future generations in securing employments. Lastly, discrimination of women at the workplace is major social issue that should concern every individual in the society. All organizations, leaders, citizens and the government have roles to play in repression of gender discrimination at the workplace.