Everyone has had a moment of being treated unequally at work! Discrimination is an unfair treatment of employees based on their race, color, gender, religion, origin, culture or any other status. It is, of course, illegal and it largely goes unreported, which is a major cause for employees to be under-productive and disengaged at work. A culture of Discrimination can lead to very visible poor business performance.
Several employees bear the brunt of discrimination by their managers which cause unimaginable stress and affect the mental health of not just the individuals, but also extend to their close network of family and friends. A polarized and disengaged workforce causes an adverse effect on the company's business & environment.
Employers have an important role to acknowledge and curb this menace. It is important to notice the latent symptoms that include elevated levels of absenteeism, tardiness, attrition, poor Employee & Customer Satisfaction scores, a work environment which is polarized, hostile and politically polarized. While taking decisions on recruitments and promotions, even though candidates have perfect credentials, experience, and past performance, managers are seen to discriminate against their subordinates and peers on many factors. Some of such prominent discrimination factors are: -
Race & Religion: Many corporations have seen rapid progress, but they lack equality at work. It is an unsaid rule that the Leadership spot will not be offered to a third world citizen, a Lady or people from a specific religious belief. Many believe that they would decimate the culture or ways of doing the business of the company.
Appearance & Weight: It is understandable that an obese person may not be able to perform the role of a fighter aircraft. But discrimination is seen in many common positions, mostly based on whims and fancies of the manager or their head of the department. Obvious discrimination is seen during the selection of candidates for frivolous reasons such as the person having a scar on the body, having irregular teeth, a dark skin tone and obesity amongst others when realistically most common jobs have no correlation to such grounds with performance. Companies lose potential talent when prioritizing based on personality.
Age: Age is just a number, but prejudice has no boundaries! Scorn managers tend to take advantage over the employee based on age. Needs of workers in mid-30's, the late 40s and near retirement are all unique and yet common in those segments. Negotiations on salary increments, promotions, transfers and retirement benefits are all soft spots for such malice.
Disability: Unfavorable behavior towards disabled employees during promotions, pay revisions, rewards, etc. are not uncommon. India has legislated safety for persons with disabilities (Protection of Rights, equal Opportunities, and full participation) Act, 1995 for safeguarding and shielding the disabled, yet the right is sparingly exercised by the victims.
Gender: According to an Economic Times article, 48% of the Indian population comprises of Women, yet they comprise less than 2% in several private blue-chip corporations like Adani Ports, Bajaj Auto, Grasim, UltraTech and Hero MotoCorp. Several instances do occur when gender equality is not valued. An employer may not hire women due to many reasons. For instance, married women are perceived to be extremely family oriented. Male ego and considering women to be physically weak compared to men are common reasons.
The present corporate sector lacks the number of women presents in the higher positions of management compared to men as Women hold only 7.7% of board seats and just 2.7% of board chairs, according to Catalyst.
Fresh recruit: Being a Rookie also draws discrimination. This is the biggest challenge often faced by new employees at the hands of their superiors and some peers, as being new to the environment may cause an increase in insecurity to the existing workforce that can have severe and adverse effects on the newcomer.
The Law is clear on such matters. There is an arrangement of an apparent remedy against discrimination safeguarding the employees that are right to file a complaint and access to settlement procedure based on mutual settlement or an appropriate legal procedure. Under the constitution of India, Article 15 prohibits the state from discriminating on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth as well in various day-to-day activities, including when it comes to providing equal employment opportunities. Women are empowered protecting oneself under Section 1 (3) Act, 2013 the sexual harassment of women at the workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal).
There are various steps the company can take to Remove the Bias in Hiring. Many respected private organizations institutionalize processes to curb discrimination. For example, Nestle works on the long-term employment relationship incorporating well-defined code of conduct in business, corporate culture representing employees and unions such as the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) and as well as the Nestle European Council for Information and Consultation (NECIC), safety at work, competitive wages, collective negotiations, maintaining equal pay without any harassment or discrimination.
On the other hand, Reliance communications limited like many other companies builds employee protection committee (EPC) to protect their rights and redress complaints while having speedy Redressal mechanism to solve the complaints within a period of 3 months at the corporate level.
"If you believe that discrimination exists, it will." - Anthony J. D'Angelo
Diversity is healthy. Employees not only bring their knowledge skills experience to work they also bring multiple groups or social identities with diversified culture and other aspects towards employment for a better living, it is rightful to stop discrimination in the workplace of the corporate world. In order to attract the upcoming workforce generation, diversity is one means that needs to be considered. More and more countries have begun to understand this need of the hour, that women's is a prerequisite for development in any economy in the world.
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