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Introduction

Gender is a social concept, which refers to cultural group of people as masculine or feminine. Gender discrimination takes place if one grouping of people, which is treated differently from the rest. This is also called gender inequality. Two theories explain how people are gendered, and reasons that have led to continuation of the concept in various places of employment. Psychological theory bases its argument on the experiences of boys and girls while Socialization theory at cultural expectations. These theories are crucial in analyzing this concept in the employment scenario. For example, gender inequality is generally present in the places of work, such as the one witnessed in the case of Wal-Mart Company. According to Sylvia Walb, gender inequality has continued because there is a system of social structures and practices in the labour market or work place, where men dominate, oppress and exploit women. There are two types of gender segregation, namely horizontal and vertical. Horizontal type reflects the idea that men and women are in different spheres of occupation. Vertical segregation is an idea that women and men are found at different levels within any given occupational group.

Gender segregation in the labour market or work place, according to the functionalist theory, explains that it continues to occurs due to increased responsibility of women part of which is taking care of their children. Women are seen to have less commitment, training, and expertise. They do not take time to get more experience under tough conditions. This has brought up discrimination at the work place, since they are taken to be less serious. Most employers in the labour market end up paying them less salary as compared to their male colleagues at the same level (Klein, 1985, p.80).

There are more ways by which discrimination is experienced in the work place in the Wal-Mart. Direct inequality happens for instance, when employer offers driving jobs to only male applicants. This is gender discrimination. There is also indirect discrimination cases where given work condition only favour one group of people. This problem of gender inequality has persisted since women are forced to work until late and even overtime irrespective of any domestic responsibility that they may have. Under this problem of gender inequality in the labour market, harassments have persisted among the female employees.

Harassment of any kind is a way of reflecting inequality at the work place. This mainly takes place in the offices or dinners held by the company for the employees, most of which are sexual harassment. In addition, victimization at work place is rampant. The employer usually may favour one person of the opposite sex based on personal interest. Treating a person unfairly also amounts to discrimination at work   (Klein, 1985 p.67). This mainly happen to employees who are ignorant of their rights. It should to be admitted that some Wal-Mart companies felt inequality based on gender or race.

Such persistence of the gender inequality in the labour market has prompted Britain to form a commission referred to as Equal Opportunities Commission. This commission is championing on unfair treatment of employees at the work place. The commission was formed in 1975 and is still active to date.  In Wal-Mart, women on part-time employment are paid less by 38.4 percent as compared to men. Full time workers have a gap of 17.2 percent (Klein, 1985, p.68).This shows high level of inequality in Wal-Mart workplace. For instance, in Wal-Mart, independent bodies were asked to investigate women harassment at the offices and even in the armed forces. In addition, around 30,000 workers lose their jobs in Wal-Mart because of being pregnant. Finally, many cases of sexual harassment and discrimination have been handed by the court system in the Wal-Mart. All these confirm that there is no equality in most of the working places.

Analysis of Gender as a factor of Structural Inequality in the Labour Market

Gender discrimination in the labour market is any form of unequal opportunity awarded purely based on sex of an individual. This problem has been advanced in the labour market due to the gender discrimination. Social discrimination is any form of a move aimed at decreasing the status of a given gender in the social sphere of life. The most common social discrimination occurs to women. Gender discrimination among women is a form of an abuse, which lowers their dignity and capability in executing tasks to men. Work place gender discrimination has been witnessed to be the most common form of bias in the social set up. People with the same academic qualification, experience and competencies have been unethically given promotion and job opportunities based on their sex. Job discrimination can either be under the whole employees group or on individual basis (Stanley, 2001).

Following statistical evidences, women are the most discriminated in pay and promotion, although the trend is gradually changing. Women segregation on pay has also been witnessed to decrease in gap. Between 1990 and 2000, payment was increased by 75 percent for men and only 25 percent for women. Women are also given job opportunities based on childcare. This has shown that most women only getting part-time jobs, while men get permanent employments. Women are also horizontally segregated in work place environments. Many companies have distinct types of positions, which women can occupy while the rest are perfectly design for men. It was indicated by 2001 that only 20 percent of women were managers in Wal-Mart stores. Men occupied the larger 80 percent. The pay gap was at around 20 percent with women earning at 72.5 percent.

Attention of many people has been drawn towards the operation of the multinational private company on its sexism strategies. For example, Wal-Mart has been seen in strings of gender based cases, especially in the Supreme Court. Most of this allegation is based on unequal treatment of women and men, especially on basis of promotion and payment policies. It has been an escalating task for the court to offer a verdict on this case following the fact that the Company has a well-structured policy outline against any form of gender disparity. At the same time the court has found it very hard to prove the allegations due problems with evidence collection.

Although many have doubted the possibility of Wal-Marts’ possibility of performing in the competitive market, it has been proven by studies that the company has taken unhealthy approach towards the gender bias. Researches carried through interviews and questionnaires have shown that Wal-Mart has created gender disparities both vertically and horizontally (Steven, 2004). In addition, the court cases pulling down this organization have brought out this clear picture. Horizontal segregation has been noted by the fact that most of women across the branches of this organization work in almost similar departments. Men’s departments in work have shown that they were evenly distributed both in the department and in positions. It was shown that a large percentage of administrative and management body was carried out by men. At the same time, men filled the supervisory portfolio as well as ranks down the ladder. Most women in the Company are working at the level of secretary and sales. The percentage of women in the administrative and management system are hardly 25 percent today in this Company. It can be proven that the criteria is not purely based on job qualification as women respondents did believe some of them were holding if not equal then above in credentials (Steven, 2004). Vertical segregation in employment has also contributed immensely towards the advancement of gender inequality in the labour market.

Vertical segregation is the biggest challenge in an organization operating like Wal-Mart. Vertical segregation is occurred in a place, where the promotion aspect is being addressed in terms of grades and pay. Despite their grades and competencies, women tend to stay longer on low-level jobs as compared to men. This is majorly contributed the organization strategies rather than inefficiency among women. For those that manage to get promotions to the higher positions, they do suffer the ‘glass ceiling effect’. ‘Glass ceiling effect’ is where the women can get to the top only in theory while they cannot achieve it in practice. The speed of promotion is also noted to be higher among men as compared to women. This could be noted by the fact that job stagnancy is more in percentage among women as compared to men. Some women end up falling out of their jobs out of frustrations, while others seek judicial interventions. Another practice that has contributed to the increase of gender inequality in the labour market is the pay-gap.

Pay gaps has been seen as another determinants of gender disparity in the Wal-Mart Company. It can be evidenced that many women seek aid from the court over their pay as compared to men. Men in this company feel satisfied with their pay and promotion according to women respondents. Pay in any work set up is tied to promotions and job ranks, thus women are generally disadvantaged in this organization. The pay gap between men and women is not that distinct on the employees on the same rank, however, the general pay gap is larger on men than on women. The gap is taken from the total some payable to equal number of employees of both sexes separately. A number of cases have been filed over the company, which includes poor remuneration policies among women, but the company has come to a great defense on its operation system. The gender segregation in Wal-Mart cannot be understood properly, as its own policies are clear and against any form of gender biasness. It was thought that gender issues affecting this company are local issues within the branches, but this has been disputed by the accumulating cases across the branches. Business organizations always have very objective management system (Chaffee, 1985, p.74).

 The system must have clear and sound strategies on the approach of challenges experienced. When these challenges are overturned, the company shall have better results, which translate to reasonable profit. This is why management is termed as a result oriented concept (Redman & Snell, 2010, p.79).  Good human resource is very vital for the success of any system. It is important to analyse and discourage this topic on the concept of gender inequality in the labour market, owing to its numerous demerits.

Indeed, this topic is useful to the company, because it helps them have the analysis of their human resources and tackle the changes. The management strategies are also useful to ensure proper accountability and ways in which this can be improved. The other objective is to ensure a good strategic management, to divert any eminent challenges in future so, as to have a clear roadmap for the business (Boxall & Purcell, 2007, p.92). Analysis of major factors affecting the strategic management is looked at. The political and social environment can determine the productive nature of the organization’s performance. Economic factors can be described as the market stability, which is affected by either inflation or deflation (Schumacher, 2000, p. 45). Presentation of literature captures on these categories: environmental analysis, competitive strategies, human resource challenges, organizational behavior, leadership roles and other employee`s attendance incentive schemes. In the research study, the results obtained from The London Cake Company are very useful to the company and any other related business organization (Boxall & Purcell, 2011, p.46).

When the company matches internal strengths with external opportunities, it provides core ability in meeting the customers’ needs and those of their individual employees, and such practices would help in decreasing the levels of gender inequality in the labour market. This case study company acted to convert internal weaknesses into its strengths and external threats into opportunities (Feignbaum, 1990, p.47). The company knew its competitors and applied these instrumental strategies hence mobilized their market share. It is through this that they were able to capture the market and have large sales (Davidow &Uttal, 1990, p.19). They also knew that food industry is an investment that will never fall, especially when one goes with the emerging trends in the market (Barney, 1991, p.57). They also applied technology in their strategy to respond to the employees issues on gender inequality.

Technology played a major role in this company is reducing gender inequality since the employees are given channels and media to address their concerns. For example, the London Cake Company Ltd. opened a web site. This site was able to attract many people, especially those who even never knew about their products and services, especially on its employment policies (Blyton & Fiorito, 2008, p.48). Both the employees and the customers accessed them through the web. Through this, they have enhanced their marketing strategy to reach many people.  The shape of their cakes is very appealing to the potential employees and customers. This is one of their strengths (Camp, 1989, p.72). The SWOT analysis outlines that the company adopted a simple and powerful tool for strategy development of any organization (Feignbaum, 1990, p.36). In fact, there are less women as compared to men (Collins & Porras, 1994, p.145). This has made the human resources of the company to experience many challenges.

Human resource challenges are numerous in number, because they are of different categories. The most important challenges are change management in the business. The environmental HR challenges, workplace diversity, leadership development, retention and motivation or HR effectiveness measurement, compensation and attracting the best talent (Redman & Snell, 2010, p.48). These mentioned challenges and others are discussed effectively in the following paragraphs.

Workplace diversity: is broad and its dimensions include age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical abilities, race, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, religious beliefs, parental status and work experience (Robinson, 2002, p.123). The company was able to deal with all the forms in the most professional way. The human resource manager introduced training on knowledge development based on utilization skills and continuous training to enhance individual competency. The company will never succeed without all these professional approaches to the issues on gender disparity in the recruitment processes.

Retention and motivation: This can also be termed as HR effectiveness and measurement. Motivation and retention of personnel are very difficult not only to this company but also to the other competitor companies. It has become a general concern today to retain the female workforces who feel that they are discriminated in their work positions. For example, the London Cake Company observed that the average number of years or tenure for some professional employees is less than three years (Redman & Snell, 2010, p.74). This applies to IT professionals, marketers and other middle strategic managers to mange their employees, but the company offers better remuneration to maintain its male employees than the female ones (Mulcaster, 2009, p. 78). There is also a problem of attracting the best talents. In a tensed job market, most organizations always experience concurrent demands to get the same kind of talented professionals (Boselie, 2010, p. 86). In their pursuit for talented male employees, they end up cajoling talent all over the world. This company has designed ways of attracting these talents by knowing the reward factors contributing to this, but they often ignore the talented women. In essence, an employee with good communication skills, with capacity to think logically and being able to be analytic coupled with excellent leadership qualities is of great importance to the organization (Reichheld & Sasser, 1990, p.92).

The London Cake Company will never face all these challenges, if they embrace the concept of gender equality in the labour market or workplace. Though the company argue that, when these challenges are addressed, it have certain implications (Redman & Snell, 2010, p.80). The company may offer to pay the required amount at the market demands, but the cost of operation is going to be raised rapidly (Traverso, 2000, p.53). This has the effect of reducing the profit margin. For its effectiveness, the management should undertake regular assessments on all issues (Hamel, Gary, 2002, p.90). These include pay, work environment, benefits, administration and promotional opportunities to monitor the progress in long term basis. Appropriate tools for measuring development must be put in place too (Johnson & Scholes, 2008, p.22). Introduction of IT training to all the staff will be very effective and motivational to both the male and female employees of the London Cake Company Ltd (Davidow & Uttal, 1990, p.78).

Conclusion

In sum, several causes of gender factor lead to the advancement of structural inequality in the labour market, which have been explored in the previous paragraphs. The human resource challenges are always very important to note regarding the issues on gender inequality in the work place. As displayed in the discussion above, it is possible to tackle challenges so as to eliminate the vice of gender inequality in the labour market. The Major challenges affecting human resources management are classified in different categories. They are generally classified as economic, social, political and technological. The major tool of analyses used is SWOT is a strategic tool that evaluates the company’s competitive strategy towards high productivity and elimination of gender inequality vice in the labour market. Therefore, it is important to avoid harassments on the female employees because they help in advancing gender inequality in the work place and labour market. This has been witnessed in the high turnovers among the female employees who feel discriminated against. Besides, the employers do not exploit and tap the talents on the female employees, owing to the fact that they prefer to attract and maintain male labourers as compared to their women counterparts, and this has been witnessed in the two companies, used as examples, under this analysis.

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