Sexual Discrimination at Work

We are going to consider the problem of sexual harassment and discrimination in this research paper. Despite the degree of development of the modern society, this problem is still quite topical. For instance, accidents of sexual discrimination happen from time to time even in the very well-known companies. One of such accidents is going to be analyzed below. It is a very bad situation for both companies and employees. Companies are forced to face problems of a spoiled image. On the other hand, employees suffer serious social and psychological problems. For that reason the possibility of such accidents should be minimized. In this research paper we will provide with the recommendations and our opinion how to avoid such practice and its potential negative consequences.

Any organization is a difficult structure with comprehensive and complicated elements and relations. The business organizations are not an exception. Their performance is determined by not only some business factors but also by different social, mental and institutional elements. All these elements are united under the concept of organizational behavior, organizational culture and overall organizational environment.

Among these elements we may differentiate the following ones: corporate climate, social environment, relations between workers and managers, relations with society in general and authorities, in particular. It happens so because the central element of any organization is a human being with its features and defects. It wouldn’t be an overestimation to say that the performance of any company depends on its employees and managers, and relations between them.

One of the most popular human’s defects is its ability to discriminate others on different basis (sexual harassment, gender, age, or racial discrimination, etc). Such discriminations harm a corporate climate in an organization and, respectively, its performance. Probably one of the most well-known and complicated kinds of discrimination in an organization is the so-called sexual harassment.

In this research paper we are going to analyze the essence of the sexual harassment and its influence on a company’s performance. We will describe a particular accident of it that has happened recently and got a great resonance in society. Finally, we are going to recommend some issues that have to be implemented by a company to prevent the accidents of sexual harassments. Also we are going to analyze other forms of discrimination at work, for example, unpaid wages etc. At first, we would like to define the term sexual harassment.

According to a current issues update from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment occurs, “when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment” (Sexual Harassment).

Simply speaking, it happens when senior employees require from their junior colleagues some sexual loyalty for some career promotion. Usually it is associated with the relations between senior and junior colleagues. However, this situation is also possible in relations between equal workers. Thus, there is no some clear correlation.

Also it is usually associated with the relations between men and women, when a man occupies superior position. We should admit that it is as a typical practice. However, in recent years the situation has changed. Due to the fact that the rights of women in society have grown and, as a result, it has become possible for them to build a great career and occupy high positions in a company.

Although, we mentioned before that even equal relations between workers may include cases of sexual harassments, but superior position provide wider possibilities for it. It is possible because superior positions provide more options of influence on the junior colleagues. For example, superior managers may use career opportunities as an instrument of pressure on colleagues. In a modern society it is a really influential factor.

Thus, since women have got a greater access to a career leader they also may be a central subject of the sexual harassments cases. That is the reason why women and men should be treated equally. We mean that they should be treated equally in the legal considerations of the accidents of sexual discrimination. It was almost impossible a few years ago, since it was believed that men cannot be victims of the sexual harassment cases.

Now, let’s define the factors that may lead to the climate inside a company that may stimulate sexual harassment or is better to say the factors that indicate relations between colleagues as a potential sexual harassment situation.

To determine whether behavior is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile environment, the finder of fact (a court or jury) considers such factors as the frequency of the unwelcome discriminatory conduct; the severity of the conduct; whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with work performance; the effect on the employee’s psychological well-being; and whether the person that make a harassment occupies higher pisition in the organization (Preventing Sexual Harassment. A Fact Sheet for Employees).

As we can see, the following main features of the sexual harassment situation might be determined: severity and periodicity of conducts between employees; interrelation between a contact and work performance of an employee; using a superiority of a position as a factor of influence. They are not some clear indicators. They rather describe a stressful environment in relations between employees.

Everyone realizes that such cases of discrimination may harm a company’s performance. It is not even an object of discussions. Let’s define the consequences of such kind of discrimination for a company:

  1. Damaged corporate image (Corporate image is a very influential factor in the modern business conditions. It is able directly to affect financial results of a company, since customers may not wish to buy products of a company that does not respect its employees.);
  2. Stressful working environment (Being potential victims of sexual discrimination, employees are not able to show the best productivity and efficiency of work and overall performance of a company suffers..);
  3. Loss of the customers’ loyalty (We have already explained that spoiled corporate image may lead even to losses of the most loyal and constant customers. It is simply unacceptable practice in the modern business conditions.);
  4. Financial losses caused by the potential lawsuit to a court by a harmed employee (It has been already mentioned that spoiled corporate image leads to financial losses of a company. However, these financial losses can also be quite direct and associated with lawsuits.);
  5. Decreasing of potential new employees (Employees will not go to work to a company that does not respect interests and values of its employees);
  6. Problems in relations with authorities, civil organizations and society, in general (Sexual discrimination is not tolerated in the modern society. For that reason such policy may provoke legal actions from regulative bodies. The company may even stop its performance).

In general, such cases lead to the spoiled corporate image of a company and, respectively, financial losses. The modern society requires the companies to be socially responsible. It is one of the most significant trends of development of the world nowadays. Sexual discrimination cannot be considered as a socially responsible practice and it spoils a company’s image. Having negative corporate image, a company is not able to increase sales. As a result it is forced to face some financial losses. To describe it more clearly, we are going to analyze the most recent case in this context that has happened with the well-known company.

Recently, CEO of HP Mark Hurd was accused of the sexual harassment and was fired. He was accused by the former HP marketing contractor. The company has conducted an internal research and decided to propose Hurd to resign and save the image of a company, at least, to protect it from the total destruction. Although the results of this research have not been published, this scandal has got a great resonance in the society.

Hurd did not argue and decided to quit this job. He admitted that his behavior went against the principles and standards of the company. It is very important factor because the company has managed to avoid even bigger scandals. They remained cold-blooded and tried to differentiate the actions and principles of Hurd and actions and discrimination policy of the whole company.

Moreover, according to some sources, the internal investigation has shown that claims were not supported by the facts. However, the company has indicated that Hurd already had had such precedents in his career. Thus, this step of the company was rather an action of prevention of the similar cases in the futures by other employees. Also, as we have already mentioned, they tried to save their corporate image in the most possible way.

The investigation did reveal, however, that Mark Hurd had engaged in other inappropriate conduct. Specifically, based on the facts that were gathered it was found that Mark had failed to disclose a close personal relationship he had with the contractor that constituted a conflict of interest, failed to maintain accurate expense reports, and misused company assets. Each of these constituted a violation of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct, and together they demonstrated a profound lack of judgment that significantly undermined Mark’s credibility and his ability to manage HP effectively (Patel).

The consequences of the situation were quite hard for the company. HP stock goes down in after-hours trading on the announcement. The company’s image is spoiled. Their financial performance is going to be worse as they have created a precedent for different speculations.

Thus, as we have already mentioned, such precedents of sexual harassment are not good for any company because of the range of reasons (spoiled corporate image, financial losses, tension in relations with publicity, etc). That is why the question is what should be done to avoid such situations? It is a prerogative of the so-called sexual harassment policy of a company.

First of all, it is important to develop and implement a formal sexual harassment policy. Every employee should agree with it and then the company will hedge itself from different accidents and sues in the future.

Every element of this policy should be clear and standardized. This would be a guarantee that everyone would understand it and realize the possible consequences of breaking for him/her and a company. In general, this policy should be well-written and become a handbook for any employee.

A company’s sexual harassment policy should clearly state what accidents and relations may be treated as a potential sexual harassment cases. We mean, that a company should describe in its policy some indicators of wrong relations in this context. It is also a legal insurance from unjustified claims in the future.

The next element of the effective policy is to treat any complaint seriously. Any complaint should be investigated because it is essential to prevent violations rather than solve them later. HP has shown a great example when they fired their CEO even in the situation, when his guilt was not proven by some clear facts. The precedent was enough for them. In such a way they have shown not only to their employees but to the whole society that they are not going to tolerate cases of sexual harassment.

As we have already mentioned, we would like to describe some other form of discrimination at work. Unpaid wages and exploitation of employees at the work place are also kinds of discrimination. For example, recently another well-known company Dell was accused of bad treatment of its employees and, particularly, not paying them wages.

The accusation was based on the fact of bad treatment of sales representatives by the company. Particularly, the situation was that the company’s call center workers were underpaid. The scandal has got a great resonance and involved a lot of workers.

Dell is facing a class action case from 5,000 call centre staff in the US who claim the computer giant has underpaid them since 2004. An Oregon judge – the delightfully-named Thomas Coffin – has certified the case for class action status, which means that most of Dell’s US call centre staff from 8 February 2004 to the present day can join in. It covers consumer call-centers in Oregon, Central Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Idaho (Dell Hit by Class Action over Unpaid Overtime).

The results are the same as in the case of the sexual harassment: spoiled corporate image, financial losses and image of a bad employer. Thus, any form of discrimination is inappropriate and they should be avoided.

To conclude, we would like to say the following. Since any company is a comprehensive and complicated entity, its performance may be harmed by any outlaw in any of its parts. The situation is even more difficult because a central element of any organization is a human being. Thus a human being’s defects and defects in relations between people are among the key determinants of a company’s success.

Among the wide-spread defects of human relations we may differentiate discrimination and sexual harassment. As a recent example of HP has shown such accidents may really bring harm for a company’s image and positions on the market. For that reason any company should do everything possible to prevent cases of sexual harassment.

Simply speaking, sexual discrimination happens when senior employees require from their junior colleagues some sexual loyalty for career promotion. Usually it is associated with relations between senior and junior colleagues. However, this situation is also possible in relations between equal workers.

The cases of sexual discrimination lead to a lot of negative consequences. Among them the following ones may be pointed out:

  1. Damaged corporate image (Corporate image is a very influential factor in the modern business conditions. It is able directly to affect financial results of a company, since customers may not wish to buy products of a company that does not respect its employees.);
  2. Stressful working environment (Being potential victims of sexual discrimination, employees are not able to show the best productivity and efficiency of work and the overall performance of a company suffers);
  3. Loss of the customers’ loyalty (We have already explained that spoiled corporate image may lead even to losses of the most loyal and constant customers. It is simply unacceptable practice in the modern business conditions.);
  4. Financial losses caused by the potential lawsuit to a court by a harmed employee (It has been already mentioned that spoiled corporate image leads to financial losses of a company. However, these financial losses can also be quite direct and associated with lawsuits.);
  5. Decrease of potential new employees (Employees will not go to work to a company that does not respect interests and values of its employees);
  6. Problems in relations with authorities, civil organizations and society, in general (Sexual discrimination is not tolerated in the modern society. For that reason such policy may provoke legal actions from regulative bodies. The company may even stop its performance).

Generally, we can say that the cases of sexual discrimination spoil the company’s image among the customers, regulative bodies, employees, partners and other stakeholders. Spoiled image finally leads to worse financial results and even termination of a company’s performance.

As we can see, the following main features of the sexual harassment situation may be determined: severity and periodicity of conducts between employees; interrelation between a contact and work performance of an employee; using a superiority of a position as a factor of influence. They are not some clear indicators. They rather describe a stressful environment in relations between employees.

One of the ways of prevention of such cases is development and implementation of a company’s sexual harassment policy. This policy should be well-written and become a handbook for every employee. In such a way a company not only educates its personnel, but also hedges itself from unjustified legal procedures in future. Also having a well-written sexual harassment policy is an integral element of a good corporate image of a company.

As we have already mentioned, any form of discrimination should be avoided in a modern society as everyone is equal.

 

 

Works Cited

Akerblom, Annika (2004) ‘Gender Mainstreaming in Local Communities: the Case of Sweden’, Paper presented at the Council for European Studies Conference of the Europeanists, Chicago, Illinois March 11-13, 2004. Available at: http://www.europanet.org/conference2004/papers/I5_Akerblom.pdf. Accessed on April 25, 2013.

The opinions of leading individuals, politicians, and civil servants within the municipalities on the question of gender equality and gender equality work are considered in the article. How do they view these matters? The author also discusses how municipalities work with gender equality issues in their daily lives using, among other things, gender mainstreaming. This problem of gender equality is very important to avoid the cases of sexual discrimination.

 

Barrett, K. (2004). Women in the Workplace: Sexual Discriminationin Japan, Human Rights Brief.

All the issues of sexual discrimination of women are considered in the article. The author provides not only description of sexual discrimination, but also recommendations how to improve the situation. Some of these recommendations have been used in our research paper.

 

Bergman, E. & Henning, J. (2008). Sex and ethnicity as moderators in the sexual harassment

phenomenon. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 13 (2), 152-167. Retrieved

April 25, 2013, from EBSOhost database.

This article presents research which argues that sex and ethnicity moderate the influence

of organizational sexual harassment climate on sexual harassment. This study uses a

sample of male and female military personnel from several ethnicity groups.

 

 

Dell Hit by Class Action Over Unpaid Overtime. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/17/dell_class_action/

 

Middleton, M. (1980). Sexual harassment on the job: new rules issued. American Bar

Association Journal, 66 (6), 703. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from EBSOhost database.

This article discusses the release of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity

Commission guidelines. Definition of physical or verbal sexual harassment, and kinds of

behavior that constitute sexual harassment.

 

 

Patel, N. HP CEO Mark Hurd Resigns Over Sexual Harassment Investigation. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/06/hp-ceo-mark-hurd-resignsover-sexual-harassment-investigation/

Preventing Sexual Harassment. A Fact Sheet For Employees. N.p.,n.d., Retrieved 22 April 2013 from ttp://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/Documents/complaint/Preventing_Sexual_Harassment.htm

This informational source is very valuable for employees and companies that desire to avoid cases of sexual harassment. The author provides the set of recommendation for a company how to create supportive environment in order to avoid sexual discrimination. Also, it explains the steps that should be taken by an employee, who faces sexual discrimination cases.

 

Protect Your Business with a Formal Sexual Harassment Policy. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.allbusiness.com/legal/laws-government-regulations-employment/5801.html

 

Riach, P. (1987). “Testing for Sexual Discrimination in the Labour Market”. Australian Economic Papers, 165-178

The article states importance of the problem of sexual discrimination in the modern society. It is proven that sexual discrimination at work leads to a lot of negative consequences for the whole society. That is why it is important to avoid the cases of sexual discrimination. In order to do it, such practice should be, first of all, determined. Special testing approach is described in the article in order to determine the cases of sexual discrimination.

 

 

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