The rapidly globalizing world presents managers with new challenges. One of them is the management of social responsibility and ethical issues in a diverse workforce. Any company has employees of different backgrounds, religions, gender, sexual orientation, and needs. Government agencies are no exception, while they are expected to have higher standards in enforcing ethical policies as organizations representing the state. For this reason, this paper will address the issue of providing equal hiring and working conditions for employees in the governmental agency, taking into account their needs and cultural diversity.
The Agency’s Issue
One of the main trends in modern business is the globalization of economies and international cooperation, which requires the cultural sensitivity of entrepreneurs. This trend often causes problems in personnel management or negotiation of agreements, especially if companies go through mergers or close cooperation. Moon and Woolliams (2000) emphasize that in such collaborations, managers must not only look for universal points of interaction but also consider the meaning of different concepts in cultures to make ethical decisions. For example, an international team may face the challenge of paying for achievement if some of its members are from a collective culture, while a part of the team with an individual culture may not be happy with being paid for collective results (Moon and Woolliams, 2000). However, government agencies are more rarely faced with such problems, since despite possible international interactions, they are primarily based on the citizens of the same country and work representing its interests.
Nevertheless, government agencies also face the challenges of managing a diverse workforce associated with recruiting, promoting, and providing a comfortable work environment. The first ethical issue in my workplace is the recruitment process and related discrimination issues. For example, if an African American candidate and a White candidate have the same level of competence and skill to get a job, should the manager give preference to the first candidate to ensure racial diversity in the company. A similar situation also applies to the choice between male and female candidates or a person with a disability and a candidate without a disability.
Moreover, this situation also raises another ethical issue related to the reputation and social responsibility of the company. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Act 1972 state that the proportion of women and men hired should be equal to the number of applications (Dresang, 2017). The Civil Rights Act also states that the number of specialists of one gender in a company should correspond to the number of specialists of that gender in the country (Dresang, 2017). Thus, the question arises whether it is ethical to hire a woman candidate to ensure diversity, even if her competence is slightly lower but meets the company’s requirements.
A similar situation also develops in selecting employees for promotion, which can rely not only on individual but also on cultural differences. For example, as Moon and Woolliams (2000) point out, people from different cultures display emotions and body language differently. Consequently, a manager may inadvertently discriminate against a member of one culture, for example, considering them insufficiently proactive or emotional for the role of leader, although they have other advantages necessary for this role.
At the same time, a manager, fearing to discriminate against a representative of one of the minorities, may provide them with more opportunities or attention. Such an approach can both devalue the contribution of other employees and call into question the professional qualities of the minority employee. Therefore, it is a challenge to strike an appropriate balance and identify the needs of all the diverse staff.
Furthermore, the ethical issue raises the need to provide a comfortable environment for all diverse employees in the agency. For example, Muslim employees need a place and a short break for prayer, while people with disabilities need adapted furniture or more space to work. At the same time, many parents are more likely to use sick leaves for childcare and are often late from lunchtime to pick up their children after school, which has frustrated some managers.
Simultaneously, non-parent employees who fulfill all the requirements often complain that they spend more time at work. While all of these details can be ignored by an employer, they significantly impact team relationships, employee loyalty, and performance. Consequently, it is a challenge to establish working conditions that take into account the individual needs of employees but do not distinguish them from the majority of workers.
Significance of the Issue and Recommendation to Its Solution
Ensuring equality of diverse personnel is an essential aspect for a government agency. Firstly, this factor affects the company’s social responsibility and its reputation, which is especially important, since the agency represents the interests of the state. Secondly, diversity provides a versatile view of problems and helps to find the most effective solutions. Thirdly, if employees feel uncomfortable in the workplace due to discrimination, barriers that other employees do not face, or prejudiced attitudes, these shortcomings affect their performance and the team as a whole. Therefore, improper management of a diverse workforce affects an organization’s performance, earnings, and reputation.
Consequently, the problems associated with hiring, promoting, and providing a comfortable working environment for diverse workers must be solved in a few steps. First, managers at all levels must instill into the organizational culture tolerance and sympathy for the needs of all employees. To this end, Aquinas’ ideas can be used, such as dealing with diversity with sympathy, tolerating the views and needs of others, using practical wisdom, and balancing a universal standard with cultural features (Das Neves & Melé, 2013).
All people can have specific needs at some point in their lives, and if employees and managers meet them with understanding and are willing to cooperate, this approach will increase team and company loyalty (Treviño & Nelson, 2011). For example, anyone can face personal problems, and the willingness of colleagues to help rather than judge is key to job satisfaction and high team performance.
These organizational culture principles will also help managers ensure a comfortable work environment for staff. A manager who empathizes with the needs of employees can make ethical decisions and ensure that the team is effective (Treviño & Nelson, 2011). For example, creating a room for resting and allowing the freedom to take short breaks will make the work of Muslims more comfortable as they can perform namaz in a safe environment. Other employees can also use the room and breaks for personal calls or short rest.
Establishing flexible schedules will help parents do their jobs without fear of punishment for being late. However, since flexible working hours can increase inequality because women are more likely to use them for household chores and men for extra work, a maximum number of hours worked per week should be set (Chung and van der Lippe, 2020). In this way, employees will be able to plan their schedules to complete the necessary tasks and use their free hours for personal needs. Such changes will attract a more diverse workforce as people will be confident in the ability to balance their work responsibilities with personal issues.
Moreover, the issue of recruiting a diverse workforce cannot be fully resolved as ethical dilemmas will arise depending on the situation. However, managers can reduce the number of these situations by attracting more candidates from different social groups. For example, Webb (2017) notes that using specific vocabulary in job descriptions attracts more men or women, depending on the words used. Therefore, managers can use appropriate language to recruit a necessary number of female and male candidates, which will increase the chances of getting both sexes and employing a diverse workforce.
The manager should also use this feature to attract people with different cultural backgrounds, eliminating specific requirements, such as a particular university or years of working experience, and focusing on skills. In this way, the company will provide equal conditions for people with different social and cultural backgrounds and increase the diversity of the workforce.
Therefore, the main challenge for the government agency I work for is to equal conditions, attitude, and working environment for a diverse workforce. These aspects affect managers who are forced to make decisions to ensure the team’s productivity, employees who face barriers to their work, and the reputation of the company as a whole. However, introducing the principles of tolerance and compassion for diversity will help to cope with these problems, allowing managers to make ethical decisions.
To this end, managers must understand the characteristics of different social groups of workers and implement changes that contribute to their comfortable work but are available for all employees. Thus, an atmosphere of tolerance among managers and employees, combined with suitable organizational conditions, will enhance the performance, social responsibility, and reputation of the agency.
Chung, H., van der Lippe, T. (2020). Flexible working, work–life balance, and gender equality: Introduction. Social Indicators Research, 151, 365–381. Web.
Das Neves, J. C., & Melé, D. (2013). Managing ethically cultural diversity: Learning from Thomas Aquinas. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(4), 769–780.
Dresang, D. L. (2017). Personnel management in government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Routledge.
Moon, C.J., & Woolliams, P. (2000). Managing cross-cultural business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 27, 105-115.
Treviño, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2011). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about to do it right (5th ed.). Wiley.
Webb, M. (2017). How to alter your hiring practices to increase diversity. Forbes. Web.