Gender Inequality - How It Affects The Workplace And Organizational Structures
Due to gender inequaly present, the workplace has been referred to as an inhospitable place for women. The gender wage gap, the dearth of women in leadership, and the longer time required for women (vs. men) to advance in their careers are all examples of how workplace discrimination negatively affects women's earnings and opportunities.
Women's socioeconomic status is harmed by workplace discrimination. Importantly, such discrimination against women can be traced back to HR policies and decision-making. Furthermore, when employees interact with organizational decision-makers during HR practices or when they are informed of the results of HR-related decisions, they may face personal discrimination in the form of sexist remarks.
We explored the causes of workplace discrimination in this article, as well as the nature of discrimination within HR policies, decisions, and implementation.
HR refers to a set of organizational practices for managing employees and ensuring that they meet organizational goals. Selection, performance evaluation, succession planning, and training are all HR functions. HR practices are crucial because they determine employees' access to valuable rewards and outcomes within an organization, as well as their treatment.
Institutional discrimination is defined as human resource policies that are inherently biased against a group of people, regardless of their job-related knowledge, skills, abilities, or performance. From the recruitment and selection of an individual into an organization to his or her role assignments, training, pay, performance evaluations, promotion, and termination, institutional discrimination against women can occur in every type of HR policy. For example, if women are underrepresented in a particular educational program or job type, and those credentials or previous job experience are required to be considered for selection, women are systematically discriminated against, albeit perhaps unintentionally.
Social cognition is used in HR decision-making to assess others' competence, potential, and deservingness. HR decision-making, like all forms of social cognition, is subject to personal biases. HR decisions are crucial because they determine women's pay and job opportunities (for example, promotions and training opportunities). Organizational decision-makers can discriminate against women at any stage of HR-related decision-making, including recruitment and selection, role assignments, training opportunities, pay, performance evaluation, promotion, and termination.
HR enactment refers to situations in which current or prospective employees go through HR processes or receive feedback on their HR-related issues from organizational decision-makers. Personal gender discrimination can occur when HR decision makers send sexist messages to employees. Gender harassment is a term for a variety of verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey sexist, insulting, or hostile attitudes toward women.
Leadership is the first context factor that can institutionalize gender inequalities. Leadership is a process in which one person (e.g., CEOs, managers) exerts influence over others in order to achieve organizational objectives. Leaders determine and communicate the organization's priorities to all employees. Leaders are crucial because they influence the organization's other structures, processes, and practices. Leaders, in particular, shape culture, policy, and strategy, as well as serving as social role models. When women are under-represented in leadership positions compared to men—especially when women are well-represented at lower levels within an organization—this is an important indicator of institutional gender inequality.
Others have looked at how male attitudes toward women predict workplace discrimination. We extend this analysis, however, by drawing on ambivalent sexism theory, which includes hostile sexism (aggressive attitudes toward women) and benevolent sexism (paternalistic attitudes toward women), both of which lead to discrimination against women.
One possible explanation for discrimination against women in male-typed jobs and women's relegation to the "pink ghetto" is stereotyping processes. Gender stereotypes, or expectations of what women and men should be like, are one of the most powerful schemas that people activate when they meet others. People's group memberships convey important information about their status and competence on specific tasks, according to status characteristics theory. For many jobs, men and women will be judged differently. Gender discrimination in HR-related decisions and enactment can be influenced by stereotyped-group members' success expectations.
The work environments in which organizational decision makers work should have an impact on their views on men and women. When there are more gender inequalities in organizational structures, processes, and practices, organizational decision-makers should have higher levels of hostile and benevolent sexism. This proposition can be explained by two interconnected processes: the selection of who joins and stays in an organization, and the socialization of organizational members.
First, as businesses grow, they are forced to recruit, select, and retain a more homogeneous group of employees in terms of hostile and beneficent sexism. Individual values are often congruent with the values in one's work environment, which supports this viewpoint. People are drawn to and choose to work for companies that share their values, and companies hire people who will fit in well. As a result, more sexist people are more likely to be drawn to companies with more gender inequality in leadership, structure, strategy, culture, climate, and HR policy, and they will be seen as a better fit during recruitment and selection.
Gender discrimination can be reduced by focusing on the following factors.
- Those in charge of making decisions in organizations.
- HR decision-making and implementation
- Human resources policies (such as diversity initiatives and family-friendly policies) as well as closely related organizational structures, processes, and practices.
Human resource policies can be modified to reduce discrimination. Consider how an organization can develop diversity initiatives aimed at changing the composition of the workforce, including policies to recruit, retain, and develop employees from underrepresented groups, within its HR systems. Affirmative action programs can be used to track and monitor diversity initiatives.
- The total number of people hired or promoted from each group.
- The total number of qualified candidates in a pool (for example, men vs. women).
When the proportion of candidates selected from a group differs significantly from their proportion in the qualified pool, action must be taken, such as targeted recruitment efforts.
A large body of research shows that developing HR policies that standardize and objectify performance data is an effective way of reducing personal bias among organizational decision makers in HR practices. A job analysis should be conducted to determine the appropriate knowledge skills and abilities needed for specific positions to reduce discrimination in personnel decisions (i.e., employee hiring and promotion decisions). This ensures that expectations for the ideal employee for that position are based on accurate job knowledge rather than gender stereotypes. HR policies should require the use of reliable measures based on explicit objective performance expectations and apply these practices consistently across all worker evaluations to reduce discrimination in performance evaluations. Supervisors should rate subordinates on examples of actual work behaviors using behaviorally anchored rating scales.
Another way to reduce gender discrimination in HR decision-making and implementation is to target the hostile and benevolent sexist beliefs of organizational decision-makers. Diversity training, such as a seminar, course, or workshop, is commonly used in interventions aimed at reducing these beliefs. One or more sessions with interactive discussions, lectures, and practical assignments are included in this type of training.
Men and women should be taught about sexism and the social construction of gender roles during the training. According to studies, these workshop-based interventions are effective at lowering hostile sexism levels but have mixed results on benevolent sexism. Because of the subtle, and in some ways positive nature of benevolent sexism, confronting and reducing it with such interventions is difficult.
Individuals who are explicitly informed about the harmful implications of benevolent sexism have lower levels of benevolent sexism (Becker and Swim, 2012). Unfortunately, none of these interventions have been tried in a business setting. As a result, their effectiveness in the field is unknown.
Gender inequality in the workplace takes many forms — unequal pay, disparity in promotions, incidents of sexual harassment, and racism. Often, it presents itself in more nuanced ways, like fewer opportunities for women who are mothers and a higher incidence of burnout in women.
Far too many girls, especially those from the poorest families, still face gender discrimination in education, child marriage and pregnancy, sexual violence and unrecognized domestic work. These are some types of gender inequality.
Gender inequality in the workplace might include hiring or training only one gender for a particular role (perhaps because it's seen as 'men's work' or 'women's work'). Female employees may also worry about treatment during pregnancy or motherhood, or being sexually harassed.
Businesses and nonprofits that actively support gender equality tend to make better business decisions—and ultimately make more money. Research shows that inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, and that teams with less diversity are more likely to make poor choices for their companies.
Gender inequality in the workplace is a complex phenomenon that can be seen in HR practices (i.e., policies, decision-making, and their implementation) and has an impact on women's hiring, training, pay, and promotion. Gender inequalities in broader organizational structures, processes, and practices, such as HR policy but also leadership, structure, strategy, culture, and organizational climate, contribute to gender discrimination in HR-related decision-making and the implementation of HR practices. Furthermore, gender inequalities in organizational leadership, structure, strategy, culture, and climate should be perpetuated by discriminatory HR practices. Gender discrimination is also heavily influenced by organizational decision makers.