How Race, Gender and Class Shapes the Workplace

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Many organizations, including tech giants like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Microsoft, have been paying much attention to diversity that can reinforce organizational flexibility to receive a competitive advantage, whereas minimizing threats. Nevertheless, the development of a diverse workforce in numerous organizations still struggles with gender, social class, and racial prejudice. Men and women at the workplace have been treated differently on various issues such as leadership, managerial opportunities for women, equal opportunities, and family development support. Researchers have been conducted to determine how race, gender, and social class have impacted the work environment and to establish solutions to ensure business success. This paper aims at developing whether race, genders, and social class have a significant role in shaping the workplace.

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Racial prejudice involves treating different people differently based on the individual’s race. Diversity is essential for businesses, as people with different backgrounds bring different ideas and viewpoints. These enable the organization to appeal to the diverse segments of the marketplace, which in turn contributes to success and innovation. It is also vital for a company to have a good diversity management plan. There is more to diversity than just hiring minorities, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women.

Diversity management involves making the right decisions amid a diverse workforce to eliminate the adverse outcomes of interactions between individuals. Diversity management consists of enhancing an organization’s effectiveness by developing suitable organizational structures, systematic strategies, and processes, and by creating an equitable and fair work environment for all kinds of employees. Diversity management involves a three-stage process:

The identification stage, where the diversity mixture is recognized, and the necessary action determined;

The implementation stage, where appropriate measures are selected and used;

The maintenance stage. (Tetteh, 2019: N/A)

For any organization trying to create a more inclusive organizational culture, investing in diversity management should be the primary objective. Businesses should take a standardized methodology to establish diversity environment. The method should entail appeasing states of ambiguity about the organizational future and effectively communicating recent guidelines intended at guarding staff who belong to an ethnic group.

Employees and businesses should push organizations for robust racial diversity strategies, to guarantee all personnel equal chances at every phase of the employment level, including the right to advancement, and training.

There are two types of gender inequality in businesses nowadays. On the one hand, men and women are treated differently in workplaces, and on the other, discrimination against the LGBTQ communities still happens in many places. Gender equality in the workplace is accomplished when workers can enjoy the same resources, opportunities, and rewards irrespective of gender. To achieve the goal of gender equality, organizations need to provide equal pay of equivalent value, promote equal involvement of all genders in the workforce, enhance access to leadership roles for all genders, and eliminate any form of gender discrimination. Achieving the goal of gender equality is not only crucial to the business but also the aggregate economic performance. When we talk about how gender shapes the workplace or gender equality, we often talk about equal rights between men and women, and yet LGBT workforce inequality is often forgotten.

Many LGBTQ people are living and going to work in fear of discrimination. On October 8th, 2019, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding discrimination against employees based on sex, which is protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The first argument consolidated two cases, Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostok v. Clayton County. In both cases, the plaintiffs are gay men, who allege that they were fired because of their sexual orientation. In the second case, Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the plaintiff alleges that she was fired based on her gender status, that she is transgender. Consequently, the lawsuits ask the Court to decide whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ employees. (Dunn, 2019)

Even today, we hear a lot of discrimination against the LGBTQ community. In these cases, plaintiffs argued that because of sex, they are treated differently. One of the plaintiff lawyers explained that if a male employee is fired for dating a man and the employer does not fire a female employee who also dates a man, then that employer is discriminating against the man. It is very similar to the gender identity case of a transgender woman. If she were not a transgender person, in another word, if she were still a woman, then she would not have gotten fired that triggers discrimination against the employee under Title VII. Discriminating against gender ruins the reputation of businesses and eliminates collaborations with the global marketplace. We have seen many companies stop working with an individual, a business, or even a state that discriminates against gender or sexual orientation. In 2016, Disney threatened to stop filming in Georgia if the anti-gay bill becomes law.

A balanced mixture of men, women, and LGBTQ in the workplace enhances problem-solving and strengthens communication. Having a different combination of strengths, talents, and skills bring numerous things to the table, and workers can perceive things from varied viewpoints (Flynn, Patricia, Kathryn, and Maureen). For instance, many women have different ways of enhancing the workplace by cooperating with supporting, inspiring, and rewarding colleagues while most men are good at building effective teamwork. They also bring to the table essential qualities of appraising and allocating workplace tasks and responsibilities. Thus, this kind of balance between the two genders is necessary to ensure the organization keeps moving forward.

Social class defines individuals’ social, cultural, and economic capital and their independent social levels comparative to others. These classes can easily be detected, and they play an essential role in the workplace, starting in the hiring process. People have distinct qualities that define their social lives and the way they interact with each other. The class has a significant influence on the way people respect each other and the way they conduct themselves within the company.

When dealing with class, class is often overlooked as a concern inside a group’s dynamic as it is associated with other factors such as race, religion, gender, location, and age (Nayani, and Stringer). For instance, Muslim women, wearing the hijab at the workplace, are often subjected to discrimination and seen as a different class from American women. Images of terror and oppression often accompany the media portrayal of Muslim women with hijab. ‘Thus, for many Americans, the hijab has come to symbolize Muslims’ ‘backwardness’ and gender oppression within Islam as a religion, and it is commonly believed to be worn by less educated, poor women who are not empowered.’ (Ali, 2015: 147).

If individuals at the workplace feel to belong to a particular social and economic class, corporate policies and guidelines may seem not to matter to them. This attitude change affects their working relationship with coworkers and management. Overlooking organizational behavior minimizes morale and employee participation in the organization. These impacts indirectly contribute to organizational misunderstandings and conflicts and decrease performance if not dealt with in advance.

The ideas of gender, race and class have shaped modern businesses in the workplace. Despite significant progressions in the cumulative socioeconomic statutes of working women and minorities, these three components remain a threat to the achievement of organizational success. Equality is vital in ensuring a balanced work environment to stimulate sustainable development and economic growth. Regardless of many organization’s determinations to dismiss discrimination, it still exists in the modern workplace. Race, gender, and class have begun to shape the way companies hire and do business. Social media and technology have also enabled people to have their voices heard, and many minorities, LGBTQ communities, and women have come out against corporations and people in power.

Companies have started to pay much attention to biased and unfair treatment of different races, gender and make necessary changes to improve equality. Businesses should examine biases as they are subtle, affects almost everyone, and are associated with high costs. There are many instances where a miscalculated ad or statement can hurt a company’s image. Management should, therefore, establish strategies that aim at eradicating this issue to keep corporate social responsibility accountable. Failure to do so, the productivity and profitability of the business would be affected to a large extent. Today’s companies should learn to embrace diversity as it leaves a significant impact on the entire organization.  

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