People differ in many ways both visible and invisible. The differences are mainly in the age, marital status, sexual orientation, culture, personality, disability and religion. These factors present diversity in the human resource management. Thus, it is the requirement for human resource managers to acknowledge the reality about the differences in their management endeavors of the workforces. The following paper reviews human resource function of compliance of General Motors (GM) in relation to equal employment policy and provides recommendations for future improvements.
Strategic Overview of General Motors
GM is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. The company was founded in 1908 and since then it has spread to over 100 countries and has over 122,000 employees. The company is a leading seller of world class quality vehicles. In fact it is America’s leading selling brand. The strategic goal of the company is to remain a top leader in the car business and the transport related products. The main areas of operations include the manufacture of the vehicles such as cars, trucks and spare parts (General motors, 2016). The vision statement of the company is, “To be the world leader in transportation products and related services.
We will earn our customers’ enthusiasm through continuous improvement driven by the integrity, teamwork, and innovation of GM people” (General motors, 2016, par. 2). While the mission statement is, “To provide products and services of such quality that our customers will receive superior value while our employees and business partners will share in our success and our stock-holders will receive a sustained superior return on their investment” (General motors, 2016, par. 3).
HR Processes in Compliance/Legal
In the contemporary fast paced business world, organizations have been investing in various processes that ensure improved performance. The main goal has been to gain competitive edge. One of the key areas of investment has been in the human resource. The investment in the human resource has mainly been based on the understanding the critical roles played by human resource management in aligning organizations to strategic positions (Olsen & Martins, 2012).
It is due to these factors that many companies have devised elaborate processes on staffing, training and development of employees, compensation, governance, and general employment policy. Therefore, it is common for organization to engage in a competitive recruitment process in order to obtain the best talent in the market. As a result, there have been tendencies to overlook issues of diversity and inclusion in the workforce (Snell & Bohlander, 2011).
However, current practices and regulations lobby for diversity in the workplace. According to Shen, Chanda, D’Netto and Monga (2010) diversity in the workplace improves the quality of management decisions and it is key in allowing innovative ideas in an organization. In the bid to ensure inclusion and diversity in the HR processes, the U.S. federal government has put in place regulations that advocate for equal employment rights. Thus, it is upon the human resource managers to comply with the legal guidelines in order to ensure that there are no discriminations in the staffing processes.
In the U.S., there are legal guidelines on equal employment. For example, equal employment opportunity commission is tasked with implementation of federal laws that protect job applicants and employees from discrimination. The key areas of discrimination are race, color, sex, nationality, disability and gender identity. The denial of a reasonable accommodation due to personal factors or disability is regarded as discrimination. Therefore, the commission is tasked with the enforcement (Schlanger & Kim, 2013).
The law is normally enforced on the basis of the type of employer, type of employees and nature of discrimination. It is thus upon the human resource managers to ensure that they comply with the provisions of the law and promote inclusivity in their organizations. There are many laws that govern accommodations in the workplace. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides that employers should not discriminate job applicants and employees on the basis of disabilities.
Yang and Konrad (2011) pointed out that management of diversity depends on strategic thinking and ensuring that the human resource policies are centered on people. The human resource management is normally concerned with what the employees contribute to the growth of the business. Despite the overemphasis on the performance, there is a key function within human resource management which relates to diversity management. This function considers the individual differences based on diversity; there are legal frameworks that are put in place to ensure that employers do not overlook the management of diversity in an organization.
General Motors Policies and Practices Relevant to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Affirmative Action and Workforce Diversity
Workplace diversity entails comprehensive measures taken by the management of an organization to ensure that there is good environment that maximizes the potential for all employees. It is based on recognition of human differences. According to Yang and Konrad (2011), workplace diversity provides an environment that is inclusive, more equitable and accessible to all employees. In relation to GM, the company has a policy in which diversity is part the organizational culture of success. There is consulted effort to ensure that there is diversity in the organization. For instance, the organization has a mindset that employees are supposed to grow and that they should be treated with the right human dignity. GM emphasizes that it is dedicated to create a work environment in which there is respect for values of people from diverse backgrounds. This is captured in its policy of honoring combination of talents and perspectives for its partners.
EEO is a term used by the U.S. federal government to denote the practices of employment that make sure that employers do not discriminate people based on race, disability and other orientations. According to Schlanger and Kim (2013), this principle ensures that everyone living in the U.S. has equal opportunity to employment. The principle is also critical in the elimination of human resource policies and practices that discriminate citizens. Thus, it is based on the recognition of equal participation. In order to comply with the provisions, GM has incorporated good workplace practices that ensure that people with different disabilities work in the corporation. It has affirmative action that ensures that people fit into the different roles and still contribute to the performance of the organization.
In relation to equal employment, one of the measures taken by the federal government is the affirmative action for people who have disabilities. This principle is based on making the employers exercise good faith in providing solutions for the underutilized. It also advocates for diverse outreach in the process of recruitment in order to capture people who are considered disadvantaged. In this respect, the principle recognizes the need for minimal exclusionary impact in the recruitment process. One of the guiding principles of GM has been the diversity and inclusion. In relation to hiring people with disabilities, the organization focuses on the skill and not the disability. This policy is not limited to the U.S., but also present in other countries where the company has branches.
Issues the Organization is facing
External challenges are the most significant issues that face GM. The external challenges include increased competition from other players in the automobile industry; this affects the strategic position of the company. The company has to devise strategies to deal with the challenges.
The second external challenges are the legal factors that relate to compliance with employment laws in various jurisdictions. In the U. S. it is a requirement for employers with above 15 employees to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity provisions. For instance, the HR function has to ensure inclusivity in terms of non-discrimination of people with disabilities in the recruitment process. Even though the company has put effort to comply, there are no clear systems and policy framework on the issues.
The issue can be solved by putting in place policies that enhance compliance as provided by the law. Compliance will help in ensuring diversity and promote attraction of skilled human resource personnel. Also, it will ensure that the company executes its mandate without interference and constant complaints. According to Armstrong et al. (2010), cohesive human resource personnel play a critical role in enhancing the performance of an organization. To achieve the cohesiveness, the first step should entail putting in place human resource systems that address the challenges of lack inclusivity and integration the workplaces.
Interview Questions and Responses
There is increased need for organizations to have diverse workforces in the current management practices. As noted, the federal government has put in place measures to ensure that job applicants and employees are not discriminated. In order to have a clear glimpse of inclusion, a senior human resource manager in GM was interviewed. The three topics covered in the interview included Equal Employment Opportunity, American Disability Act and disabilities. The following are the questions used for the interview and the responses.
Americans with Disabilities Act
- What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
It is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress. The Act contains various regulations that protect people from discrimination due to their disability. In the employment circles, the law supplements the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which also protects U.S. citizens from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion and ethnic orientations.
- What are the components of the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Act has different components; some of the critical components include employment, public entities and public transportation, telecommunications and public accommodations, and commercial facilities.
- Tell us about the implications of the components in the employment field.
These components outline the need for inclusivity in the different spheres of life. For example, in relation to employment, the act provides that qualified individuals with disabilities should not be discriminated in the process of recruitment. In this aspect, the component provides that the application procedures, hiring, and job training processes should not be discriminative. In relation to public entities, the component provides that designs used in public facilities such as public transport and schools should be designed in a manner that they are physically accessible to people with disabilities. This implies that designs of offices should not restrict the movements of the people with disabilities.
- What experience have you had in handling complaints related to the Americans with Disabilities Act?
In relations to the complaints that relate to the provisions of the Act, the major complaints have mainly been related to physical accessibility factors. The designs of some building did not take into consideration the aspect of people with disabilities. This is normally in relation to those people with physical challenges and who have to use assisted means such as wheelchairs to move around.
- How would you handle a complaint from an employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
There are diverse complaints that employees may present under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Dealing with complaints should be based on the components and issues being presented. However, the overriding concern is to ensure that reasonable accommodation is applied in solving the issues raised.
- What are the governing principles under “reasonable accommodation”?
The governing principle under the reasonable accommodation is the right to equal treatment. For instance, in the work place there is the need to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy an environment that enables them to work comfortably. The principle is based on positive steps that allow equal participation. For example, provision of assisting equipment/materials for the people with disabilities.
- What factors qualify an individual as having a disability?
A person is categorized as having disability if he/she has a mental or physical impairment that limits undertaking some activities. The individual may have a record implying the impairment or may be regarded as having such disability.
- What is disability?
Disability is a physiological or mental disorder which limits an individual from performing some activities. However, it does not include psychoactive disorders that may result due to substance abuse.
- What features of facilities in an organization should be accessible to the people with disabilities?
In order to ensure inclusivity of all employees, it is recommendable that all essential areas in an organization are accessible to the people with disabilities whether physical or mental disabilities. For example, the parking spaces, washrooms and drinking fountains and entrances to all offices should be designed in a manner that takes into consideration the challenges that the people with disabilities are likely to face.
- Does inclusion of the people with disabilities affect work performance in the organization?
Disability and skills are different things. In the employment process, the major emphasis is on the skill and competence and not the type or state of disability. Therefore, it does not occur that disability negatively affects work performance. This can only be true in instances the individual is not coming to work. It is worth noting that this is an issue that affects even the people without disabilities.
- In the recruitment process, what measures are taken to ensure that disability is not an exclusionary factor?
The recruitment process is free and fair. Jobs are advertised using platforms that can be reached by both people with and without disabilities. The application process also takes into consideration the procedures and ensures that procedures that are considered limiting to people with disabilities are not used in the recruitment process.
Equal employment opportunity and diversity
- What is equal employment opportunity?
Equal employment opportunity refers to employment practices that ensure that people are not discriminated on basis of race, color, sex or disability. The principle is upheld by the federal government and requires employers to give equal chances to people based on qualifications.
- Tell us about the differences between equal employment opportunity and diversity.
Diversity entails measures taken at the organizational level to create an environment that ensures the potential of all employees is maximized based on different human qualities. The main reason for encouraging diversity is to ensure that an organization benefits from the diverse workforce that has wide range of skills. There are no clear differences between work diversity and equal employment opportunity. However, it is worth noting that the equal employment opportunity is more of a federal government regulation to ensure inclusivity while diversity is an internal measure towards the inclusivity.
- What is the regulatory framework that guides diversity and equal employment opportunity?
The equal employment opportunity is anchored on various provisions. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Americans with Disabilities Act, which bestow responsibility on employers not to discriminate job applicants and employees.
- Tell us about the measures taken by your organizations to ensure diversity and inclusion.
Whereas the law compels organizations to ensure that people are not discriminated against, the organization has taken upon itself affirmative action that is in line with federal government provisions. This entails good faith efforts to ensure that there is diverse outreach in the recruitment process. For example, use of different media in the advertisement the job opportunities and specifically sending messages to institutions that deal with people with disabilities. In addition, all job applicants undergo fair evaluation and selection based on personal skills and qualifications.
- What steps can be taken by human resource managers to ensure that work environment complies with the regulatory framework of equal employment opportunity?
It is upon the human resource managers and the concerned departments in an organization to formulate policies that ensure equity in the workplace. This should be based on principles that embrace diversity, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. The policies should be drafted based on the provisions by the federal government on the equality.
The U.S. federal government through the Congress has enacted laws that ensure that people are not discriminated on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientations. It is upon the human resource managers to ensure that they comply with the provisions. Based on the understanding, it is recommended that the HR function should enact a policy to ensure that adherence is based on clear organizational system; instead, of the current emphasis on compliance.
This will ensure that complaints that result due to failure to comply with certain aspects of Americans with Disabilities Act and Equal Employment Opportunity are solved at the top level of the organization. This will ensure workplace is accommodative for the diverse people and hence enhance efficiency in the organization and create value.
Secondly, the HR function should initiate programs that enhance integration. Even though the company has complied with legal provisions, there are no indications of internal measures taken to ensure that the diverse employees work cohesively. Shen et al. (2010) pointed out that compliance should also include training of the workforce in order to ensure that principles of inclusion are understood and accepted by all employees.
Also, the HR function should adopt a management philosophy that is based the commitment to equal employment opportunity. This improvement in turn will foster good work relationships that can be used for strategic positioning. Also, it will serve as a social responsibility strategy for GM and thus contribute in promoting the brand image which is crucial in gaining and sustaining competitive advantage.
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