Impacts Of Discrimination In Workforce And Way Forward

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on July 18, 2012

Discrimination is a form of unfair treatment against a person or a group of persons based on prejudice. Severe and persistent discrimination at work contributes to poverty and social exclusion.

This article illustrates the impact gender discrimination in workforce creates on its employees commitment, satisfaction and motivation level of employees. Its identifies few factors which  has drastic effect on employee performance/Productivity. Related researches have showed that women are more discriminated than males in private sector compared to public sector. The results show that gender discrimination decreases satisfaction & motivation and commitment & enthusiasm level of employees, and increases the stress level in the employees.

Women discrimination at workplace can be in many forms. In addition to old forms of discrimination, is it on the basis of religion, gender or minority. Newer forms of biases, more delicate and less perceptible, like disability, age, minority, genetic disposition and migration and lifestyle also become prominent.

Companies that proactively maintain diversity in cultures, gender and exhibit long-term commitment to it reap competitive benefits by leveraging this diversity into a business success. ‘Breaking through the Glass Ceiling: Women in Management’ by ILO emphasis and targeted at situation of women in professional and managerial works

Current Scenario

Gary Becker, A Nobel prize-winning economist, proved in his book “The Economics of Discrimination” how open economies and markets automatically penalize the companies which discriminate the employees.

Achievement of equality is so challenging. First, discrimination is entrenched both in human nature and in the way organizations work. A comprehensive study ‘Time for equality at work’ showed that discrimination at work is an evolving phenomenon.

As an undisputed observation women are a minority in the top leadership roles of global corporations. A study on  leadership of world's top 2000 performing companies, revealed only 1.5% of those CEOs were women, an even smaller percentage 2.5% in the Fortune 500 Global list.

As per the recent survey only 9% of directors on global corporate boards are women (Pax, Walden Asset Management). In the US, women occupy 35% of all managerial positions but only 6% of Fortune 500 companies’ top executives are female and just 3% of those firms have women CEOs . In Countries like China, India and Japan, women percentage in Senior Management is around 10% (Community Business 2009).

Mari Teigen analyzed the issues in hiring of one decade data. Research identifies three groups of people; one is plaintiff, recruiting authority and the Ombud. All parties are self defending and blaming others related to discriminatory actions. This difference inherently creates social and economic disadvantages which may lead into inefficiency. Significant and persistent gaps in income, and opportunities dilute the effectiveness of any activity aimed at combating discrimination.

Study conducted in a private organization revealed that gender discrimination was inversely proportional with commitment and enthusiasm, because of discrimination, women showed less commitment and enthusiasm in their job.

Factors contributing to discrimination

Family and raising children responsibilities are not equally shared between women and men, leading to additional barriers for women to enter and stay in the workforce and have a career.

Stereotyping lead to women often being employed in a ill-paid, temporary, without any  career advancement opportunities , thus not allowing for the full development of their potentialities.

Migrants especially women from rural working class face institutionalized discrimination owing to their social status. Most of them would not have no labor contract  and are vulnerable to workplace injuries and illnesses and may be exposed risks like trafficking.

Exclusion of people with disabilities is the fact that they are still often perceived as unproductive, unable to perform a job or too costly to employ.

Women are overlooked when it comes to promotions .Women who manage to break through this so-called “glass-ceiling” into decision-making are very disproportionate when compared with number of men. Sensitization programmes at all levels of the hierarchy should be geared to refuting the myths surrounding women’s capabilities and dedication to work

Strategies: Adopting to the change

Women still remain the largest group facing discrimination in terms of employment opportunities and wage gaps. Participating companies have to exhibit a long-term commitment to improve the gender equality in the workplace and be positive to managing gender diversity

Provide gender equitable opportunities for and access to literacy training, education, and certified vocational and information technology training.

Transparent policies ,not only encouraging employees to imbibe these principles with them ,but also implementing and enforcing in relation to business partners such as sub-contractors, individual  workers, vendors, and suppliers. This is how we spread the awareness.

Childcare assistance, either by providing childcare services or by providing information and resources of services about childcare.

Location preference when and whenever possible, Work-life-balance activities as part of individual guidelines to overcome habitual gender attitudes and stereotypes

CSR activities in integration with Social Partner Organizations to be directed to sensitize employees to diversity

Top Management : Promoters of Culture

Top management have to change their organization drivers .A global standard will allow organizations around the world to identify successful practices and provide benchmarks against which they can measure themselves as they strive to accelerate the pace of change

Top management has a very prominent role in fostering the spirit of equity. They promote the culture as leaders and lead other employees to adopt and make their blood.

People make up the organizations. They are the brand ambassadors of the organization and they make the spirit of the company .Integrated and sustained efforts need to be made to ensure that components of equal employment opportunity policies (recruitment, promotion, wages and transfer) are closely monitored and that the procedures are transparent, objective and fair.

In my view one of the best ways to reduce gender discrimination is for company leaders to show behavior that emphasis disapproval of biased treatment.

Top management’s behavior sets the tone for employees, who often imitate the positive work practices that leaders exhibit. Executive support is necessary for the success of any type of workplace program or policy. Goodwill is a intangible long term asset and Company reputations also suffer irreparable damage because of workplace racism and discrimination.

Policies has to drafted with a clear set of standards and they are  to be reviewed annually. Have employees read the policies and take an exam annually would help in self introspection of themselves. An healthy environment which encourage workers to tell managers about discrimination against themselves or others. Once reported the top management has to look into it diligently and resolve allegations of discrimination quickly.

Inculcating a culture into an organization is challenging, sensitization programmes at all levels of the hierarchy to disprove the myths surrounding women’s capabilities and dedication to work , and endorsing the contribution women can make to an corporate  image and to its productivity.

Finally, equality at the workplace is not an overnight activity. It is a  step-by-step incremental process and  sometimes it might be reiterative. A gender equality strategy may begin with women particular activities and proceed towards inequality eliminating activities

I feel just as quality became an inherent mission to most of the organization, equality should be a motto and a way of corporate culture of organizations.

This article has been authored by Mohan Sornapudi from NITIE.


Views expressed in the article are personal. The articles are for educational & academic purpose only, and have been uploaded by the MBA Skool Team.

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