Essay on Managing Diversity and Inclusion

Published: 2021/11/26
Number of words: 2859

In the early years of civilization, women were not allowed to work as they were viewed as natural caregivers and wives. They were expected to remain at home and take care of children while their husbands and sons went ahead to look for employment. However, this concept changed during World War II. During the Second World War, countries experienced a shortage of able-bodied men, to fight in their forces and therefore able men across the country were pushed to join the armed forces in order to help defeat the Germans (Goldin & Olivetti, 2013). Notably, this decision led to a shortage of men in the workforce, and women were forced to fill this shortage. For the first time in history, companies operating in different sectors of the economy were hiring women to work in their organizations (Goldin & Olivetti, 2013). This has been the case ever since, and today there is an increasing importance of integrating even more women in prominent organizational positions. Most organizations have diversity and inclusion policies that ensure women are included in their workplaces. Diversity and inclusion policies have caused most employees, particularly the marginalized employees, to feel accepted and valued. More importantly, these policies have helped a broader and diverse group of women employees access all organizational positions at the expense of male employees.

Positive Effects of Diversity and Inclusion Policies on Workforce Equality

Diversity and inclusion policies have increased the percentage of women in senior management. A study by Adamson et al. (2016) proved that the number of women in senior positions had increased by 29 percent. The study similarly stated that over 80 percent of globally recognized companies include at least one woman in senior management roles (Adamson et al., 2016). Women hold positions including human resource, chief marketing officer, and chief information officer. These positions, according to Adamson et al. (2016), experience a significant discrepancy. For instance, in the United States, 72 percent of women in employment are in human resource positions (Adamson et al., 2016). In addition to increasing the number of women in senior organizational positions, diversity, and inclusion policies have made it possible for women to lead corporations (Oswick & Noon, 2012). The percentage of women in corporate leadership positions is increasing, and currently, a majority of women occupy top positions at Fortune 500 companies.

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Thirty-three out of the Fortune 500 companies have women as their CEOs. This is a significant improvement considering that women were historically not allowed in leadership positions. These women are not only leading, but they are attaining success in their fields. An excellent example, in this case, would be Mary Barra, the current CEO of General Motors. In 2019 General Motors generated over 130 billion dollars in revenue under Barra’s leadership (Form 10-K, 2020). Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, is another example showing that women are equally qualified to lead successfully. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994, and she had an almost immediate influence on the company. She restructured the company during her initial years of operation. The company’s annual income has been increasing under Nooyi’s leadership. For instance, PepsiCo generated over 67 billion dollars in revenue in 2019, which was higher than the revenue generated in 2018 (PepsiCo, 2019).

Barriers of Diversity and Inclusion Policies

Even though these policies have helped in integrating more women into the workforce, there remains a hindrance. Diversity and inclusion policies do not address the level of discrimination women experience while in the workplace, particularly when it comes to equal pay. It is important to note that much improvement has been made in equal pay, but progress in this area has been significantly slow. Women are paid considerably lower than men, earning about 80 percent of men’s wages (Syed & Özbilgin, 2009). In fact, studies indicate that women will continue to earn less than men for the next 30 years if the progression towards equal pay continues to move at the current rate as it was 50 years ago (Syed & Özbilgin, 2009). Unfortunately, some assumptions and attitudes cement the idea that women should earn less than men. These assumptions generate negative ideas about women and the value of their work and, more importantly, perpetuate the wage gap. Also, women have historically been geared toward lower-paying jobs (Rumens, 2015). In most cases, this happens when employers have biases regarding certain groups of people hence affecting their hiring decisions. For instance, most employers assume that women are appropriate for childcare and customer service jobs. Such ideas continue to predominate most workplaces, as seen in most companies that deny customer service jobs to male applicants.

Moreover, it is essential to note that gender discrimination in the workplace takes many forms, and in most cases, it does not involve the gender pay gap. An article by Syed (2007) included men’s and women’s perspectives regarding gender dynamics in the workplace. The article stated that women are indeed feeling left out at work with factors including sexism promoting this instance (Syed, 2007). Recent law and global movement changes have encouraged women and other gender groups to speak up when they experience sex-based discrimination. The story of Riot Games displays an excellent example of such a case. Riot Games, the company behind the development of popular games, including “League of Legends,” was accused of sexism and harassment and later agreed to pay over 10 million dollars as a settlement over alleged discrimination (Dean, 2019). Such stories regarding the lack of true inclusion in American organizations are all over the news. For instance, Spotify, online music streaming company, was sued in 2018 for equal pay violations (Dean, 2019). Other companies, including Walmart, have faced similar legal issues.

Negative Effects of Diversity and Inclusion Policies

Despite the numerous achievements attained through the implementation of diversity and inclusion policies in the workplace, discrimination issues remain. In fact, a new wave of related issues is beginning to dominate the workplace with groups, particularly white men stating that the policies themselves are discriminative. Some argue that these policies were developed to replace male employees with female workers, a concept that is continuously making sense (Baird, 2011). High profile legal cases in which white male employees accuse their employers of discrimination have spotlighted organizational efforts to make career progression much accessible to people of color and women. It is believed that organizational efforts to make the workplace friendlier for women and people of color are discriminative against white men (Baird, 2011). This concept is known as reverse discrimination, where companies discriminate against members of a dominant group in favor of a minority group or the favor of a historically disadvantaged group (Goss et al., 2000). It is important to note however that most diversity and inclusion policies oppose the theory of generative interactions. This theory suggests that to facilitate inclusion, different exclusion dynamics, including stigmatization and biases, must be fought by implementing adaptive cognitive processing and skill development. Also, individuals must engage in lively interaction in order to facilitate inclusion established and maintained by a contextual set of organizational practices. To be successful in adapting the theory of generative interactions, organizations must facilitate equality between differing groups. In other words, companies must ensure that both men and women are given equal opportunities.

Reverse discrimination is a developing concept in most countries, but this concept is often downplayed or ignored from a cultural perspective. Notably, the term reverse discrimination may be used to suggest something else; however, the fact remains that reverse discrimination is discrimination, and the affected parties experience instances such as the ones experienced in discrimination. The people currently affected by reverse discrimination in many western nations are white males (Goss et al., 2000). For instance, in 2018, Arne Wilberg, a YouTube male employee, sued Google for its diversity and inclusion policies claiming that these policies favored women and minorities more than white males (MacMillan, 2018). He states that the policies were discriminative against Asian and white men (MacMillan, 2018). Other Google employees claimed that the company discriminated against conservative white men by including promotion practices that favor women and minorities. Google is not the only company dealing with such issues in the United States. An effort to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace has led to an increase in reverse discrimination issues. Many believe that this instance will continue as long as companies continue to strengthen their diversity and inclusion policies.

Reverse discrimination has left many male employees and male leaders feeling defensive. Most men feel that the efforts to include disadvantaged groups within the workplace happens at their expense. In most cases, they feel that remarks that highlight diversity and inclusion are offensive. Importantly, even harmless remarks suggesting the presence of prejudice based on gender lands on different people in very different ways. For marginalized individuals, such comments can be empowering as they feel that such comments give a voice to their experiences (Goss et al., 2000). Other people may respond compassionately, even if they have not had similar experiences. But for individuals who have never faced marginalization, such comments can be misperceived. In like manner, diversity and inclusion practitioners often frame identity as valuable but only when referring to the marginalized identities. The basic idea, in this case, is that uplifting women and people of color are important in the fight against discrimination in the society. However, it is worth noting that establishing a diversity and inclusion policy based on this rationale leads to the feeling that white men do not belong.

Reflection

Therefore, it would be inappropriate to conclude that the rise of diversity and inclusion policies in the workplace has helped a diverse and broader group of men and women access all positions equally in the organization. In fact, I believe that the same policies have led to the creation of a unique form of discrimination. The majority groups, mainly white men, are discriminated continuously at the expense of the women and people of color. Diversity and inclusion policies should be based on the concept of empowering people by respecting and appreciating their differences. Diversity should allow people to discuss their differences in a healthy, supportive, and nurturing environment. This means that people should be able to understand each other by moving beyond mere respect to making sure they appreciate their differences. By doing this, we would be embracing and celebrating the richness of diversity present within our communities. Similarly, I believe that each individual in an organization setting carries with them a diverse set of perspectives, be it work or life experiences, and these experiences and perspectives can be useful in the workplace. Notably, the power of diversity can be used for the good of the company. Furthermore, to reap the benefits that come with diversity and inclusion, organizations need to adopt diverse and inclusive policies that help instill equality, respect, and appreciation across the workforce.

More importantly, all of us have experienced moments when we felt we do not belong. It is hard to forget this feeling as it affects an individual’s aspect of being; it makes people feel different. Generally, exclusion hurts, and believing that you do not fit because of aspects you cannot control can be very depressing. This is an instance I have experienced directly. In the periods after college and as I was waiting to enroll in the master’s program, I was forced to find employment in order to provide for my ever-increasing expenses and, more importantly, to pay for my tuition. I always knew that a job would be waiting for me when I went looking for one. Significantly, I was accustomed to the understanding that companies were and will always be ready to hire people with college degrees, but I was surprised to discover that this was not the case. I prepared my CV and attached it to an appealing cover letter, and the mission was to send it to all and any hiring company in Australia. I received a few calls inviting me for interviews. My first interview was with a construction company, and I was to interview for the position of sales and marketing. Upon arrival at the company’s headquarters, the human resource manager, a Caucasian male, invited me to his office. He asked me a few questions regarding my skills, hobbies, and experience, which I answered accordingly. However, at the end of the interview, the man said, “this is a man’s job, I do not think you can do it.” I grew up believing that construction is a man’s job, and I thought the man had similar ideas. Nevertheless, I was not looking to work in the fields; I was only here to help the company with its marketing initiatives. I firmly believed as I was growing up that there are jobs meant for men and jobs meant for women, but I did not figure out that this understanding would affect me in my later life.

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The discrimination I experienced in my quest for employment is known as intentional explicit discrimination. In this type of discrimination, individuals behave negatively towards members of another group. In most cases, perpetrators use segregation, physical attack, and verbal antagonism to express their lack of contentment. In this case, the recruiting personnel used verbal antagonism to express his dislike towards me as a woman. Likewise, verbal antagonism can include casual racial insults and disparaging racial comments. Most of these comments are not taken with the seriousness they deserve, and in most cases, they are not unlawful. Nevertheless, they may trigger a form of hostility, and when combined with nonverbal forms of antagonism, they may lead to the establishment of a hostile environment in the workplace. The interviewer’s words made me feel helpless, and they established a soul-destroying feeling of not belonging.

Diversity and inclusion policies have increased the number of women in senior management positions. Today it is easier to find women in organizational leadership. While these measures have helped to bring more women into the workforce, there is still a hindrance. Policies on diversity and inclusion do not address the degree of discrimination women face while in the workplace, especially where equal pay is concerned. Women continue to receive lower wages compared to those paid to men. However, what I have gathered while working on this paper is that diversity and inclusion issues relating to gender equality in the workplace cannot be addressed by including more women in men’s positions. If more women are increasingly included in different organizational positions, men lose, and the discrimination cycle continues. Importantly, this is a growing concept in many countries and many other countries. Diversity and inclusion efforts are affecting the majority, mainly white males. Employers should be careful not to engage in reverse discrimination in their efforts to include and diversify their workplaces. To avert reverse discrimination or any other workplace discrimination case, companies should implement policies that deter discrimination of any kind. I also believe that employers should train their employees on discrimination; they should, in like manner, ensure that all human resource activities, including hiring, promotions, and compensation, are based on legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons. Finally, employers should make sure they do not make assumptions and negative stereotyping when dealing with people or making organizational decisions.

References

Adamson, M., Kelan, E., Lewis, P., Rumens, N., & Slíwa, M. (2016). The quality of equality: thinking differently about gender inclusion in organizations. Human Resource Management International Digest24(7), 8-11. https://doi.org/10.1108/hrmid-04-2016-0060

Baird, M. (2011). The state, work and family in Australia. The International Journal of Human Resource Management22(18), 3742-3754. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2011.622922

Dean, S. (2019). Riot Games will pay $10 million to settle gender discrimination suit. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 September 2020, from https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-12-02/riot-games-gender-discrimination-settlement

Form 10-K. (2020). Document. Sec.gov. Retrieved 16 September 2020, from https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1467858/000146785820000028/gm201910k.htm

Goldin, C., & Olivetti, C. (2013). Shocking labor supply: A reassessment of the role of world war ii on women’s labor supply. American Economic Review103(3), 257-262. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.103.3.257

Goss, D., Goss, F., & Adam-Smith, D. (2000). Disability and employment: a comparative critique of UK legislation. The International Journal of Human Resource Management11(4), 807-821. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585190050075132

MacMillan, K. (2018). YouTube Hiring for Some Positions Excluded White and Asian Men, Lawsuit Says. WSJ. Retrieved 16 September 2020, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/youtube-hiring-for-some-positions-excluded-white-and-asian-males-lawsuit-says-1519948013

Oswick, C., & Noon, M. (2012). Discourses of diversity, equality and inclusion: trenchant formulations or transient fashions? British Journal of Management25(1), 23-39. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2012.00830.x

PepsiCo. (2019). Pepsico.com. Retrieved 16 September 2020, from https://www.pepsico.com/docs/album/annual-reports/pepsico-inc-2019-annual-report.pdf?sfvrsn=ea470b5_2

Rumens, N. (2015). Sexualities and accounting: A queer theory perspective.

Syed, J. (2007). ‘The other woman’ and the question of equal opportunity in Australian organizations. The International Journal of Human Resource Management18(11), 1954-1978. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585190701638184

Syed, J., & Özbilgin, M. (2009). A relational framework for international transfer of diversity management practices. The International Journal of Human Resource Management20(12), 2435-2453. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585190903363755

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