Workplace Diversity: Businesses’ Obligations

Introduction

Today, business is not confined to local or national perspective; with globalization it has crossed all national boundaries to reach the international arena. Globalization needs more and more interaction among people from different countries, cultures and thoughts. The economic condition has also changed rapidly. In the threshold of the world economy, every organization requires diversity to meet the challenges. Hardly any company is now confined with a stagnant working process or business strategy. For the sake of business diversity, management skills should be up-to-the mark. This is because the skills would help the organization to fulfill the demand of a multifaceted working environment.

Legal obligations and workplace diversity

Though businesses have a worldwide responsibility, it has obligations too. Government in this case works as a watchdog in ensuring that companies are prevented from harming the social good. There are certain legal rules and regulations which can not be ignored by the corporations. But only regulation will not be able to handle the operation of an organization. Unnecessary troublesome legal matters can destroy the work culture and prevent smooth operation. The corporations pay taxes so as to be able to conduct the business smoothly. Business cannot go beyond the laws and regulations to foster a diverse workforce. So the legal matters have to be handled carefully so that there should not be any obligations that can hinder the diverse workforce. Organizations try to avoid interference in their business through taxation and laws and try to persuade the government and public. But the government would measure the steps taken by these organizations. It should be well noted that “The intentional violation of the legal rights of the workers in the interest of economic efficiency is fundamentally incompatible with the duty of MNEs to respect workers”. (Gini and Marcoux, 188)

Businesses’ responsibility for racism and sexism in the workplace

The issue of racism and sexism is too valid in the context of workplace diversity. These are totally unjust and harmful. Some people of mean-minded attitudes give a boost to sexism and racism in the workplace. Measures have been taken to cope-up with the issue, but the problem has not been eradicated and still continues to affect the laborious people who need equal opportunities in the arena of secularism. Sexism is rather a female problem and from the past, women have to suffer from not getting an equal position or rather high level in the company, though they are perfect for the position. In the corporate context, however, it is undeniable that there is “unique drawback of employment of women is the physical reality of maternity and the particular socializing influence maternity has had” (Gini and Marcoux, 264). Thus, it can be stated that “On balance, employing women is more costly than employing men.” (Gini and Marcoux, 264) Though, the role of women in the workplace has changed, ambitions and talents are being the first priority but women are still facing sexual harassment. Beside this, men are also suffering from the problem of sexism, where young, good looking women get first priority at the time of promotion. However, in the essay mentioned by authors Al Gini and Alexei M. Marcoux in their book Case Studies in Business Ethics (2008), it is clear that this promotion is only up to the middle level of the management system and they are never allowed to reach the decision making zone of the organization. Al Gini and Alexei M. Marcoux marked this syndrome as Glass Ceiling. (Gini and Marcoux, 257) However, there is a trend of change lately. In the essay ‘Women in the workplace’ the authors mentioned that “How women are changing corporate America is self-explanatory”. (Gini and Marcoux, 242) This is backed by the notion that “we are not talking about a cabal of evil men” (Gini and Marcoux, 254) because this transition towards a male dominated corporate world where Glass Ceiling is frequent is a general norm of the society itself and corporate world is a part of it.

Racism is another problem of workplace. Reservation for minorities gave birth to this problem. General candidate is losing chance as many of the positions are reserved for minorities. Talent is not only the key to success. So, businesses are responsible for racism and sexism in the workplace.

Case study

An interesting case study is “Gender issue in Your House”, where John Hasnas narrates a curious scenario that depicts the sexist approach in a house. This is the true example of social discrimination based on gender. Here the main bread earner is effectively the male and the female counterpart is only the secondary economic help. However, in a corporate context the writer remarks going beyond discrimination is needed as ”it was the best interest of the company, its employees, and shareholders, and enable the company to move forward and avoid the continued exposure and distraction of protracted litigation” (Gini and Marcoux, 289). This is perfectly applicable in the context of corporate world. Thus, this case narrates that there should be proper unification of goal oriented vision among diversity.

Cultivating workplace diversity

Diversity increases marketing & employment opportunities, creativity, productivity and image of the organization. It improves the decision making process and can solve a problem in an effective way. Innovative thought processes are beneficial for a multicultural workplace. After all, the corporations have to compete in the global market. So, diversity enhances successful marketing and creates different types of customers. Proper communication from top management to the workers is very essential. If miscommunication occurs, the organization has to face a crisis situation. It may be unmanageable and can adversely affect the reputation. On the other hand, diversity brings closer to different culture and beliefs of different members of an organization. It can thus create a heterogeneous team, this team works more proficiently and give birth to innovative thoughts. Though some critics say that cultural differences create problems, well improved managerial skills can take the charge for its well functioning. (Gini and Marcoux, 181)

Diversity ethics and fighting discrimination

Diversity must follow ethical guidelines. They should not be culturally biased, rather be broad minded. They have to change policy and must invent newer policies. The manager has to be able to know what is good for his company. Any prejudice relating to discrimination can affect the goodwill of the corporation. A positive environment can boost up the energy of the employees. They can concentrate on job responsibilities. Diverse workforce helps in generating individual awareness and sensitivity to the issues of race, gender, social status, sexual orientation etc. Thorough training and learning process increases the ability to manage the diverse workforce. In this phase, interaction and communication with each member is needed to maintain workable atmosphere. Access to information and opportunities should be given to the employees. Critical but constructive feedback from them is necessary to know about the loopholes and successes. Negative attitudes and behaviors in the workplace include biasness, stereotyping and discrimination. “And it is clear from Coke’s history and recent handling of a discrimination lawsuit that sustaining and promoting a commitment to valuing diversity is a complex and ongoing process”. (Gini and Marcoux, 315)

Counter argument

The growth of population creates pressure on limited natural resources, as the demand increases day-to-day. Rapid industrialization in developing countries is bringing new technologies. Customers are aware of different products in the market and they do experiment on it. They don’t overlook the environmental, social and ethical matters. Government is imposing new regulations and these with restrictions coupled with labor exploitation costs millions of the corporations. Corporations think ethical issues are hindering business process. Global competition is pressurizing on strategy, marketing process etc. They may be unethical for their profit. Proper education is needed for awareness (Daly, 227).

Conclusion

The world is changing radically and markets are globalized. So diversity brings effective value to corporations. Cultural difference may be turned into integrity, individual opinion and beliefs heighten the competition, productivity and entire supply chain. Diverse workforce is beneficial as everyone has access to information and opportunities and to meet new challenges. Proper education about the diverse workforce & laws would maintain a good work culture. So in the era of globalization, all should adopt a diverse workforce to be successful.

Works Cited

Daly, Alfrieda. Workplace diversity: issues and perspectives. NY: NASW Press, 2007.

Gini, Al and Alexei M. Marcoux. Case Studies in Business Ethics. Ed. 6, London: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.