Equality and Diversity in the UAE Organizations

Introduction

Equality and diversity practice plays a critical role in ensuring that company management has the correct leadership skills and experience. This concept is based on a theoretical framework of promoting fair treatment to all employees at workplaces, notwithstanding disabilities, age, race, gender, sex, nationality, or religion among other factors. The concept of equality and diversity stresses the relevance of treating all employees fairly by providing them with fair promotion, wages, salaries, and other related benefits and rewards offered at workplaces (Robinson-Easley, 2014). The main purpose of the equality and diversity concept in an organization is to ensure that discrimination is reduced in all aspects of organizational practices.

A diverse workplace is made up of all individuals with a wide range of characteristics, skills, expertise, and experiences, as well as other above-mentioned observable features. Moreover, a diverse workplace involves creating an inclusive environment in which teamwork and collaborative processes guide management decisions. The UAE women and other employees with disabilities, for example, have experienced some adverse effects associated with workplace discrimination due to a lack of equality and diversity at workplaces. They are marginalized at workplaces. Consequently, they lack job security and job satisfaction. The main purpose of this research paper is to explore how changing management perception toward marginalized employees can enhance equality and diversity in the UAE organizations.

Research Statement

Equality and Diversity within an organization are important to stem out discrimination because of race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, and religious affiliation to enhance cordial working relations among colleagues within a given workplace. This results in an inclusive workplace. Therefore, employers should ensure that codes of conduct supporting organizations in their mandate to promote equality and diversity are implemented in accordance with the set legislation to create conducive working environments for people from different diverse backgrounds and with different attributes.

This research develops upon the need to enhance equal rights and considerations in diverse personnel found within an organization. The area of study is important for modern organizations because having a diverse workforce within an organization enhances knowledge sharing, learning, and leveraging diverse experiences and skills, which are essential in enhancing productivity. An inclusive workplace also enhances recognition of all employees irrespective of their differences and, thus, promoting respect, and this will in turn improve employee motivation within an organization. Specifically, on matters of equality, the organization should enhance equal opportunities to all and should not discriminate employees based on their physical attributes, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, and other stereotyped categorizations.

The study of this topic is important for the human resource management department that wishes to enhance their practices on diversity and inclusion. It requires organizations to follow the right procedures in the recruitment of employees by considering qualifications and merits rather than favor and nepotism. Moreover, this topic is essential within an organization because it advocates for equal opportunities for each staff on various matters, including promotion and pays based on expertise and not on cultural, religious, or gender basis. In this regard, the research attempts to dismiss common practices that inhibit the promotion of diversity and equality in workplaces. Hence, it advocates for fair practices based on equal rights to all employees within an organization without favor and discrimination while encouraging organizations to leverage unique attributes of their diverse workforce to create synergy and competitive edge in their respective industries.

Hypothesis: Changing the management perception toward marginalized employees will promote equality and diversity in an organization

Marginalized employees, such as women, individuals with disabilities, and employees from minority ethnic backgrounds among others are considered as less productive. Consequently, most of these employees have been discriminated against and marginalized at workplaces either knowingly or unknowingly. For example, job security for women employee is perceived to be relatively low compared to their male counterparts because of issues related to gender discrimination, such as low pay, lack of promotion, and restriction to roles that require fewer skills and qualification, and other illegal behaviors, such as sexual harassment, physical abuse and verbal abuse among others. Hence, it is imperative for the UAE organizations to allow more women to fill leadership and management roles to ensure that they experience job security and satisfaction as men do. However, many UAE organizations consider women and individuals with disabilities as non-productive based on the idea that such employees lack the abilities and skills needed to run organizational operations.

It is acknowledged that many active women in the UAE are not employed because of the existing perception of women. It is stated that over 4% of women in Emirates work in government agencies compared to less than 2.0% who work in the private sector (Konrad, Prasad, & Pringle, 2006). This indicates that the government is working toward improving equality and diversity by ensuring that women and men are considered equal in an organization. Such practices challenge the private sector organizations to review their policies on women’s employment and leadership.

Literature Review

As previously noted, the equality and diversity concept promotes the fair treatment of employees irrespective of their individual differences. Equality in this particular case is explained as the process of ensuring that individuals in a group are fairly treated without discrimination against some individuals considered as marginalized, specifical people with disabilities and women. The context of equity and diversity strives to lessen discrimination in any working environment.

In many cases, people with disabilities and women are perceived to be inactive in society. Consequently, many organizations also believe that such employees are not proactive and can hardly contribute to organizational development. However, most organizations have been developing strategies to take action toward improving work environments for individuals with diverse characteristics, including disabilities. In developed countries like the US, there are laws and regulations that protect people with disabilities at workplaces.

Disability as a Diversity Factors in Human Resource Practices

Equality and diversity of people with disabilities in an organization are explained by observing the objectives of human resource departments in the organizations. Notably, the human resource department explains the importance of promoting equality in the workplace (Nafukho, Roessler, & Kacirek, 2010). According to Nafukho et al. (2015), organizational management plays a crucial role in ensuring that equal opportunities are accessible to all persons in organizations. Based on their findings, Nafukho et al. (2010) noted that different strategies could be used to reduce the unlawful demotion of disable employees and these approaches are intended to preserve the importance of diversity in the workforce.

Insufficient understanding of disability by management leads to conflicts between the management team and employees with disabilities. Such conflicts, therefore, demonstrate the importance of embracing diversity management skills. Diversity management skill involves understanding of different forms of disabilities, such as physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional, the responsibility of the human resource management department, and employees. Thus, organizational management should comprehend the relevance of disability as a prime factor in working environments, as well as prospective impacts of infirmity in relation to employee job retention.

Consequences of Employment Protection

American Disabilities Act requires employers to “accommodate workers with disability and outlaws discrimination against them in firing, hiring, and pay” (Acemoglu & Angrist, 2001, p. 915). Although the American Disabilities Act was designed to create employment opportunities for disabled persons, for instance, there is no age limit for men, unlike women who must not exceed 40 years. In the recently conducted population survey, data showed a severe decline in the employment of the disabled employees since the ADA was effected (Acemoglu & Angrist, 2001). Acemoglu and Angrist (2001) further explained that the number of disabled persons getting disability transfer rose at the same time, but the rate of employment of persons with disabilities did not increase because of the costs of reasonable accommodations, leading to a conclusion that the ADA was responsible for the decline. Consistence with this observation was that the ADA effects appeared to be noticeable in “medium-sized firms because small companies were exempted from the ADA” (Acemoglu & Angrist, 2001, p. 915). Acemoglu and Angrist (2001) note that the consequences are equally larger in some states with more ADA related discrimination concerns.

Further, in 2001, Acemoglu and Angrist (2001) show that a survey was done on wages and employment of persons with disabilities, and findings of the research were used to make a decisive decision. The findings were important because the population of the study also associated revenue supplements with workers with disabilities, as well as the information on company size. In order to investigate the influence of the ADA on turnover, Acemoglu and Angrist (2001) explain the structural measures of accession and separation by corresponding population surveys on employment protection. Discriminatory attitudes noted among employers toward people with disabilities have always been highlighted as supporting the challenges that members of this group have endured in attaining equal employment opportunities (Satcher & Hendren, 1990). On this note, it is observed that promoting equality and diversity is a strategic measure that reflects meaningful practices at workplaces for people with disabilities (Flynn, 2013). Flynn (2013) indicates that when organizations consider employing people with disabilities, justice for them is also endorsed.

Employer Attitudes toward Persons with Disabilities

Unger (2002) explains the vital concept and aspects that determine how disabled employees are perceived in the organization. Employers’ attitude toward their employees acts as an aspect that explains the accomplishment of the strategic goals of organizations (Unger, 2002). Unger (2002) supports equality and diversity of employees as the strategic approach that determines the recognition of the contribution of the employees with disabilities. While changing the employers’ attitudes toward employees with disabilities in different workplaces has been proposed in many countries, legislature plays a key role in ensuring that appropriate laws are passed to ensure that persons with disabilities are positively recognized in their workplaces.

For example, the ADA of 1990 was legislated and focused on large companies that failed to prioritize the diverse aspects of people with disabilities. The Act was effected to transform the mandate of employers while conceptualizing on issues relating to disability in workplaces. Its purpose was also to change employers’ thinking regarding vocational rehabilitation, as well as the potential employment of American people with disabilities. Therefore, the ADA of 1990 was firmly instigated in order to promote equality and diversity of persons with disabilities in workplaces. Notably, scholars also supported the bill proposed by the relevant institution with respect to promoting equality and diversity of people with disabilities in work environments (Johnson & Greenwood, 1988).

The Case of Women

Multiple studies by various parties, including business practitioners, sociologists, psychologists, and other academics have explored the issue of women’s collective experiences at their workplaces (Women in the workplace: A research roundup, 2013). Majorities of these studies have found similar patterns and confirmed long-standing assumptions on women’s experiences at workplaces. For example, women get less pay relative to men, that the numbers of women employees reduce drastically as one climbs higher in an organizational ladder; and that women tend to be more ethical relative to men are some of the findings presented (Women in the workplace: A research roundup, 2013). On the contrary, some researchers have expressed their doubts about some popular beliefs about women’s experiences at their workplaces.

For instance, “that taking care of their families is a chief reason that well-performing women leave their jobs; that women MBAs are less likely to secure job offers compared with male MBAs are; that being shunned is a counterproductive in the workplace” (Women in the workplace: A research roundup, 2013). Additionally, some studies focus on various forms of discrimination that are not likely to be noticed but malicious: that men get more prestigious tasks than women, more major sales accounts, and other attributes that enhance favor, while women merely receive more applause but not essentially the major promotions (Women in the workplace: A research roundup, 2013). These findings demonstrate that most organizational settings are disturbing to women. Additionally, other studies show the extent of men’s and women’s discrimination against working mothers (Women in the workplace: A research roundup, 2013).

Organizations Miss Out when Employees are Marginalized

As noted above, such studies present opportunities to investigate further if women are less effective in some leadership positions and roles and, thus, leading to more applause and fewer promotions to more challenging positions. In such instances, education and training should be adopted to improve the preparedness of women for leadership positions while they also rely on a participative leadership style to realize positive outcomes (Elmuti, Jia, & Davis, 2009). These approaches may perhaps help women and other marginalized employees to break the glass ceiling and perform better in executive assignments because they can only do well to an extent that organizational structures are supportive and directed toward informational and social benefits related to gender diversity and behaviors noted in women in management roles (Dezső & Ross, 2012).

Notably, organizations that restrict women’s participation in plum tasks and leadership roles miss out on some benefits associated with women’s engagement. Such firms fail to exploit synergy derived from a diverse workforce. In an increasingly globalized work environment, firms that wish to remain competitive must be responsive to “the needs of people with diverse backgrounds and life situations” (Thorpe-Moscon, 2015, para. 10). Organizations should drive equality and diversity agenda to ensure that all employees feel contented, respected, and valued, promote employee dedication, diligence, engagement, and willingness to contribute.

The equality and diversity concept in the organization is understood to take a different script since it focuses on how marginalized people affect organizational decisions. Promoting this strategic approach requires the management to play their roles by employing people with disabilities and other aspects of diversity. Organizations should ensure that they comply with laws and legislations that are proposed by governments and other human rights agencies to promote inclusion, equality, and diversity. Employers are the major stakeholders who shall promote equality among all employees. Hence, in workplaces, employers need to ensure that their attitudes toward employees with different backgrounds and attributes are accommodated across various organizational structures to create synergy for realizing strategic objectives.

Methodology

For this particular research based on characteristics of the research topic, a mixed methodology was considered. Academics of research studies have applied both quantitative research and qualitative research methods to collect data while minimizing the limitations of both methods results (Axinn & Pearce, 2006). The quantitative research methodology helps in descriptive analysis and in establishing the relationship among various research variables. The qualitative methodology helps in providing emphasis on the process and meaning along with the qualities of variables, which are not measured by the research study but presented as themes and in defining the objects accordingly. With the mixed methodology, the relationship between variables was established while unexamined qualities of entities along with the procedures and meanings not yet explored by any research study were studied (Creswell & Plano, 2007).

Participants

For quantitative data, a survey was organized among women employees perceived as marginalized from selected firms in the UAE. Participants were questioned using a structured questionnaire with probabilistic close-ended questions. The participants were chosen on a random basis. The survey was fairly distributed among the age and income groups in order to gain widespread knowledge of the research subject. For qualitative research, women managers were considered from various organizations and ten women managers from various firms were interviewed with semi-structured open-ended interview questions and detailed answers from the interviews were collected for the in-depth, comprehensive study of the research. A face-to-face interview was used to collect data from 100 participants that took part in the survey.

Measures

The survey was appropriately distributed among participants to gain a wider knowledge of the research subject. The researcher developed a study instrument consisting of a semi-structured open-ended and closed-ended non-probabilistic questionnaire to collect data from participants.

Analysis

Data analysis was performed using Excel. Specifically, to analyze the qualitative data, an inductive approach was applied, which helped in the captivation of information in a specific and detailed way and investigate basic patterns. Themes along with the inter-relationship were examined. On the other hand, for the quantitative data, Excel software was used for statistical analysis of the numeric data. Standard deviation and mean have been computed to describe the result of the study.

Results

The research study was based on the hypothesis that whether changing management perception towards marginalized employees will promote equality and diversity in an organization or not. From the results of research, results suggested that the marginalization of employees affected workplace diversity and equality practices. Moreover, it was observed that gender concern highly influences diversity management while equality did improve by adding more women in jobs.

It is also perceived that there are biased perceptions about women employment within organizations, and as per the participants, there are many male counterparts who are not impressed with female employment within organizations to take challenging roles and leadership positions. Moreover, in this context, the generation gap plays an important role. For instance, senior employees in terms of age were mainly against women’s employment in comparison to younger employees in contemporary organizations.

According to this research, females and other marginalized employees are deemed less productive, and this is the key reason that led to discrimination at workplaces. Besides this, the job security of women and other marginalized employees is comparatively low. Moreover, cases of mental torture, physical and mental abuse, and above all the sexual harassment in the workplace were also reported. These factors created extremely unattractive workplaces for women and other marginalized employees.

Hence, the implementation of the equality and diversity concept in the workplace is not enough to prevent the ongoing discrimination among employees based on their sexuality. Based on the findings, the concept of equality and diversity has important positive impacts in relation to job security and job satisfaction among women and other employees deemed less important. However, the impact is slow and requires time to change the working environment within organizations of the country, when men, women, and other marginalized groups would work together with equal rights, responsibility, and importance. It is observed that organizational policies should aim toward equality and diversity to create an inclusive work environment.

Table 1. Research findings.

Total participant 100
Sex Male Female
0% 100%
Age <25 25-35 35-45 >45
26% 26% 25% 23%
Income <AED15000 AED15000-25000 AED25000-35000 >AED35000
23% 26% 27% 24%
Education level Undergraduate Graduate Master level
26% 64% 10%
Job Position Labor Middle manager Senior manager
24% 68% 8%

Discussion

Discussion of the Main Findings

Employee marginalization is common across many organizations. The most affected employees are women and other racially or ethnically distinct from the majority of their workforce. Organizations have structured their human resource management policies to promote bias. This implies that marginalized employees were less likely to move up in the organizational leadership structure involving chief executive positions and other senior executive levels. In addition, they are also less likely to get a few promotions while mentorship is hard for such employees to find. Such employees are also less often recommended for plum assignments. Consequently, such employees feel restricted compared to their colleagues due to limited access to high-visibility tasks. Eventually, marginalized employees tend to downsize their potentials and aspirations.

The findings in this study are confirmed by other prior studies. It was established that men always got more critical and lucrative tasks that eventually propelled their careers than women (Women in the workplace: A research roundup, 2013). In fact, it was observed that specific projects were assigned to men compared to women. Additionally, men were also assigned tasks with large budgets relative to women. It was also reported that many men claimed that their assignments led to enhanced recognition by senior executives compared to women. It was also observed that data obtained from McKinsey covering 60 big firms demonstrated that “both number and the percentage of women fall off dramatically in the higher ranks of organizations” (Women in the workplace: A research roundup, 2013, p. 4). In addition, women and other marginalized people also tended to earn less compared to other well-represented majorities at workplaces.

This study established that the relationship between employers and persons with disabilities was rather complex. Unlike other employees, employers are reluctant to hire persons with disabilities. In the developed nations, for instance, favorable laws have been enacted to promote the employment of such disadvantaged persons. Employers tend to show divergent views on employing and promoting persons with disabilities. In fact, without proper legislation and significant social changes to support employment, persons with disabilities are rarely employed and if at all they are employed, they tend to suffer marginalization at their workplaces (Johnson & Greenwood, 1988; Luecking, 2008). It is not unanticipated, then, that people with disabilities in the UAE still plead with employers to hire them because weak laws and regulations are available to promote such social and human development (Alyammahi, 2015). While the law states that all institutions should hire at least 2% of persons with special needs among their workforce, organizations in the UAE have largely ignored such provisions.

Some organizations in the UAE have however expressed their willingness to hire persons with disabilities (Mannan, 2016). Hiring individuals with disabilities enhance inclusion. Besides, some studies have consistently demonstrated that people with disabilities are easier to supervise and are equally or more productive compared to their colleagues who are not disabled (Luecking, 2008).

Academics and professionals have demonstrated that women and disabled employees actually offer benefits to their organizations (Dezső & Ross, 2012; Elmuti, Jia, & Davis, 2009; Thorpe-Moscon, 2015). In this regard, organizations that marginalized such employees, therefore, tend to miss out on specific benefits, including enhanced performance and synergies derived from an inclusive, diverse workforce. These findings demonstrate that organizations that wish to create a competitive advantage should hire and ensure the inclusion of all employees across major operational activities. Thus, hiring women and other marginalized individuals should not present any challenges. Thus, employers with wrong, skewed perceptions about such employees should change their attitudes and develop policies that advance equality and diversity at their workplaces.

Study Limitations

Studies relating to the marginalization of employees considered as inferior tend to suffer from self-bias, and this one was no exception. Besides, only women employees participated in this research, implying that the opinions of other marginalized male counterparts were not explored. The study did not account for the role of the UAE culture in influencing the treatment of women and other groups in workplaces.

Future Directions

This paper offers practical implications for organizations in the UAE to promote equality and diversity in workplaces by first hiring women and other marginalized persons. In addition, future studies should explore how employers’ attitudes have changed toward marginalized persons in terms of hiring and inclusion at workplaces and impacts on organizational performances.

Conclusion

As organizations seek a competitive edge in an increasingly competitive landscape, employees’ issues emerge because employees are the major resources used to create such distinctions. This research paper recognizes that women and persons with disabilities have been ignored for long during the hiring and the few who are hired are often marginalized. Such practices inhibit efforts to enhance equality and diversity at workplaces leading to poor performances in organizations. Hence, the research has concluded that changing the management perception toward marginalized employees will promote equality and diversity in an organization while creating synergies and deriving benefits associated with a diverse workforce.

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