At the beginning of the XXI century, inequality in the workforce is still of vital importance. Politics and human rights policy has changed significantly throughout the previous century. Unfortunately, not all the problems of equal opportunities at the workplace have been solved. The problem of equality and inequality is closely connected with affirmative action policies as the main tool against glass ceiling. For females and minority employees, affirmative action proposes great opportunities to be equally treated and protected (to some extent). Nevertheless, there are some disadvantages to these policies. They include low-qualifies fork force and low-personal achievements of employees involved in the affirmative action programs. For half a century, affirmative action policies have proved their effectiveness, but cannot “abolish” gender and racial inequalities. For this reason, training and promotion activities as a part of anti-glass ceiling are vital for successful organizational performance. To overcome these possible threats the organization should conduct programming of specific human resources activities, based on personal development and human capital policies.
Theory on equality in HR management
In theory, the issue of equality has been designed to resolve the major ethnic/ racial controversies and to provide minority populations with a chance to realize themselves in a foreign society. Given the continuous racial prejudice and the growing percentage of minority population in the U.S., affirmative action was expected to give minority representatives another chance to make a good career and to obtain good education. Unfortunately, with the expanding role of affirmative action, American populations have come to realize the discriminative attitudes they were given against preferential treatment of minorities. To a large extent, the system of affirmative action principles was too misbalanced to eliminate racism and to provide everyone with equal social opportunities. Now, as diversity is valued more than any other social concept, as more and more Asians and Latin Americans come to the U.S. seeking better living, and as racism remains an essential component of our social relations with other ethnic populations, affirmative action should remain valid, but should be reconstructed in a way that would work to provide everyone with equal opportunities and would eliminate preferential treatment with regard to any ethnic group (Berryman-Fink et al 2003).
Equality in HRM “generally means giving preferential treatment to minorities in admission to universities or employment in government and businesses. The policies were originally developed to correct decades of discrimination and to give disadvantaged minorities a boost” (Lemons and Parzinger, 2001, p. 22). Unfortunately, equality in HRM was initially too misbalanced to resolve the major racial controversies and to provide minority and native populations with equal chances for self-realization. Very often, affirmative action implied too radical measures to promote better social opportunities which all populations would be able to use on equal terms. In this context, the use of quotas seems one of the most extreme forms of multiculturalism and non-racism which nevertheless, would never lead to improve the general situation (Dessler, 2007). In this context, affirmative action is important to teach university faculties and employers not to use race as the factor that may prevent a student or a potential employee to make a good career. Simultaneously, equality in HRM cannot provide minority students with a better chance for admission only due to the fact that they are of Asian origin. Here, affirmative action does not eliminate discrimination, but on the contrary, makes native populations the victim of this very affirmative action, for they appear to be blamed for having been born white (Linehan, 1997).
Affirmative action and workforce
The truth is that what affirmative action seeks to promote are multiculturalism and ethnic diversity. Pan-ethnicity is one of the concepts that was created to explain the changes which ethnic minorities undergo in their process of assimilation with native populations and cultures. But obverse is also true: once sentimental and economic ties disappear, ethnics will vanish into the acculturated mainstream” (Espiritu 6). That is why affirmative action should exist as a form of promoting and welcoming diversity and eliminating cultural and ethnic bias, but it should no longer give preferential treatment to those who are considered to be ethnic minority representatives (Stanny, 2004).
Numerous factors should be taken into account before a student or an employee is given a chance to realize himself in studies or career growth; race should not be one of them, but it should not also be used as a stimulus that discriminates against white populations which have a better potential to cope with the same tasks and obligations (Schuler, 1998). When analyzing the history of affirmative action one can see that the history of this event has accumulated about 48 years. During this time affirmative action has been both praised and pilloried what occurred due to racial inequalities that existed within the society. The term is multidimensional. The history of affirmative action dates back to the times of President Kennedy. He first introduced the term in 1961. During those times affirmative action was perceived as the major method of redressing discrimination (Rosow and Casner-Lotto, 1998). The term has existed despite the presence of civil rights laws and constitutional guarantees. Later on, the law was developed and enforced. The first action toward the solution of the issue has been taken by President Johnson. He was the main initiator of the program that was aimed at battling civil rights (Stroud, 1999).
In general, the equality in HRM is the combination of policies that are required that active measures. These are usually taken with the aim to ensure that blacks and other minorities will be able to enjoy the same opportunities as the other representatives of the groups. The first and the foremost important benefit is achieving salary increases, career advancement, school admissions, scholarships, and financial aid that is usually provided for people who represent a whole group. In the majority of cases, the affirmative action provides people with a temporary remedy for the ailment (Armstrong, 2001). The late ’70s proved the presence of certain flaws in the policy that was aimed at combating the rights of the national minorities. As for the reverse discrimination, this thing became a serious issue (Rubenfeld, 1997).
The equality in HRM has been widely negated by the white man. These people were known to backlash against affirmative action. Many conservatives assumed that the system has been based on a zero-sum game. The latest report proves that this game was known to open the door for jobs, promotions, or education to minorities. The main argument that was used by conservatives against affirmative action was based on the idea that these laws give access to power from the side of some unqualified minorities. This group of people was reported to get a free ride on the American system (Patterson, 1998).
“Preferential treatment” and “quotas” are the things that are frequently used to express disbelieve in the credibility of affirmative action laws. Many of the minorities that have been engaged in affirmative action were reported to experience terrible adversity and racism. The negative feelings were aimed at Jews and Asians. The debate about affirmative action has become a rather murky thing. This thing was rather difficult to perceive for the general public. At present the major part of the people start to perceive the complexity of the issue. A positive thing about the whole issue is that many people start to seriously consider the rights of national minorities (Norander, 2008).
Compensation problems and equality
Equality in HRM cannot be considered in isolation from the remuneration policy. Wages may account for up to 80 percent of total costs in some industries. The objects of a policy of remuneration are: to attract and retain sufficient staff of the required caliber to meet the organization’s objectives; to provide staff with incentives for better work; to have a policy that is logical and consistent, easily understandable and flexible. After objectives, policies and priorities have been determined, the methods of remuneration to be used to achieve them should be considered, i.e. job evaluation, merit rating, incentive schemes and fringe benefits. An employee may expect promotion as an outcome of a high level of contribution (input) in helping to achieve an important organizational objective. People also compare their own position with that of others (Schuler, 1998). Today, the equality policy covers a range of approaches and emphases, some closer to equal opportunities, some very different. In reality, there remains the question of the extent to which approaches have really changed in organizations. Equal opportunities may just be a way of making it more palatable in today’s climate, may be used to revitalize the equal opportunities agenda (Kamalu and Kamalu, 2004).
Because of the systemic nature of employment discrimination, many of the existing institutions both in government and in society are involved in the implementation and maintenance of systems that have the exclusionary impact on women or minorities (Schuler, 1998). These institutions are inappropriate for enforcing a new law designed to change those systems. It is recommended that an appropriate enforcement strategy normally would include the establishment of some independent enforcing agency within the government or, at a minimum (if enforcement is to be assigned to an existing agency, bureau, or department), that a separate subsection is established and that this subsection, or subdivision has its lawyers and its own enforcement power (Duclaux, 1995).
From an international perspective, an anti-discrimination enforcement strategy will not work if the agency given responsibility for its administration does not have adequate powers. At a minimum, those powers should include the power to gather statistical data, initiate enforcement action, subpoena data, enforce compliance, and issue guidelines. The agency should have the power to gather reports and statistical data from employers, labor unions, and other entities which may be operating systems that have an exclusionary impact on women. The goal of these statistics would be to measure the extent of the exclusionary practices and to pinpoint them for justification or elimination. It is important that the enforcement agency have the power to receive and investigate individual complaints (Schuler, 1998).
The most important power, however, will be the power to initiate its own investigations and its own enforcement actions. In the early days, EEOC blurred these two powers (Crutcher, 2006). The result was a substantial backlog of complaints. A study of the American experience shows the importance of separating the processing of individual complaints where the focus is on a rapid remedy for the individual from the processing of initiated systemic complaints where the focus is on changing an entire employment system which has an exclusionary impact and replacing it with a non-exclusionary system. Once such a law has been passed, implemented, and enforced, however, some of the greatest changes will occur through voluntary compliance. This requires that the staff of the enforcing agency and personnel in the legal and enforcement arms of companies, unions, and others get expertise in what I have called “systemic thinking” (Dietz-Uhler and Murrell, 1998).
Unionization impacts positively on women’s earnings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that women in unionized jobs average $1,500 a year more in wages and fringe benefits than women in nonunion plants or offices. In the U.S. there is a shortage of women in labor education, in industrial relations fields, and in union administration to serve as teachers and role models. It is sometimes difficult in New York City to recruit the kind of teachers needed; it is much harder outside the metropolitan area. However, increasing numbers of women enter these fields every year, and our recruiting and training techniques are improving (Armstrong, 2001). Once teachers have been trained for Trade Union Women’s Studies, they are recommended for teaching in Cornell’s labor studies program, which reaches men as well as women. Union men need the exposure to women teachers who are experts in these fields: it builds their respect for women in a profession traditionally seen as a male province and helps to change attitudes. Trade Union Women’s Studies is a viable approach for delivering to union women the kind of programs that they want and need. The short courses and conferences which are part of the not-for-credit programming of the Institute on Women and Work have proven their value as “ticklers” to stimulate the interest of working women in getting information they need and to prove to them that they can do the course work that is involved in returning to school (Schuler, 1998). When both government and private institutions begin to think about employment systems in this fashion, changes will begin to occur that will assure that women and minorities and others now excluded are included and which will do so in a fashion which will contribute to the country’s productivity constructively (Duclaux, 1995).
A wide array of issues and themes flows from considering the actual institutional means by which equal employment policy is implemented. Still, equality exists in theoretical and research literature but does not introduce widely in practice. These range from mandating equal employment policy through legislation and collective agreements to implementing it through administrative agency regulations, court decisions, and conciliation and arbitration. They encompass a concern for political action by nongovernmental groups with vested interests in expanding the employment opportunities of women. no one policy instrument mandating EEP, whether a law, a government regulation, or a collective agreement, can, by itself, achieve equal employment opportunity for women. Nonetheless, it is important to mandate equality for women in the labor market through a law prohibiting sex discrimination. Past experience suggests that such a law would be of limited effectiveness, especially if it only provides for the investigation of individual complaints about specific employer actions. At the same time, there are certain provisions that, if included in a law, would render it more effective. A law must contain a clear definition of what constitutes equality, a set of straightforward enforcement procedures, and strong sanctions for noncompliance.
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