Q1: Discrimination in the work place: In an increasingly complex and competitive global economy, organizations must ensure that their most talented employees rise to the top – that the best, brightest and most able employees are promoted into positions of leadership. Despite there being nearly equal number of men and women in the work place, figures reveal that fewer female than male advance as senior managers. Discuss .
Gender discrimination in the workplace has been a perennial issue. Even in today’s highly complex and competitive global arena, companies must ensure that their most talented employees will rise to the top of the corporate ladder. Statistics show that women as senior executives “remains at a lower level” than men who advance to senior managerial positions – despite the roughly equal numbers of male and female employees . Thus, what are some of the issues on, effects of, example of, and remedies against gender discrimination in senior management positions?
During their younger years, female employees may have aspired to be at the company top-level positions because they are among the best in their company. However, their career aspirations may have been interrupted because they are married and have kids; they have to take care first of their spouse and children in contrast to their dreams of becoming executives/managers. Thus, as time pass by, some women may have given lesser expectation for top-level managerial positions. However, for most female employees who stayed risk-averse and incredibly ambitious to be senior managers, this is never an issue.
As an example on gender discrimination in the workplace, a company (e.g., the accounting giant Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler) was sued hundreds of millions of dollars . Gender discrimination, which has many causes, can happen from the bottom and/or up. For most women who start at the bottom level of the organization until they get promoted over time to higher organizational positions, they may have experienced, one way or the other, incidental gender discrimination. Glass ceiling theory explains how an invisible, unbreakable barrier weighs heavily on women for them to advance to top-level company positions. In companies where it is dominated by male managers, it is sometimes hard for women to be on top of the hierarchy.
Barsh, J., Devillard, S. & Wang, J., 2012. The global gender agenda. Mckinsey Quarterly, Volume 4, pp. 116-125.
PN Newswire, 2011. Accounting Giant KPMG LLP Faces $350 Million Gender Discrimination Class Action. [Online]
Q2: Stress: Stress is a problem for many organizations today. Discuss the causes and implications of this. (Why organizations should manage stress in the workplace, Why should you take action, Causes of Stress, Symptoms of Stress, Signs of stress in a group, Dealing with stress at work, CIPD viewpoint on managing stress )
Stress has been defined as an emotional, physical or mental strain. It is a problem for many people in organizations because of the complexity of today’s work settings (known as the theory of asynchronous multiple overlapping changes). From the lowest to the highest echelon of the company, anyone can be affected by stress. If not managed well, it can drain employees and managers’ energy or overall health. Workplace stress affects the productivity, motivation and health of employees. Hence, there is a need to effectively deal with it so that ordinary staff up to the executive levels could reduce its ill effects or transform it into eustress (or helpful stress). Yet, what could be some of the causes, symptoms, signs, and steps to undertake for someone to manage individual and/or group stress?
Organizational/Occupational stress has many causes. The use of technologies has left open constant communication; hence, lack of division between social and work life balance. Gender discrimination, stereotyping, harassment, unsupportive colleagues/boss, etc. are also stressors. Additionally, too strict or too authoritarian management style can cause stresses, too. This is because some leaders use harsh labels (e.g., incompetent) against their subordinates. Moreover, some leaders are poor communicators and exclude some employees in decision-making. Other causes of occupational stresses are unpleasant work under-loads/overloads, unsafe working environment, and organizational changes.
The signs and symptoms of organizational stress are much similar across individuals and groups, yet they still somewhat vary depending on whom it affects, that is, either “at the individual [and/or] workplace levels” . Most individuals who are under stress have their senses become more active/alert, their blood pressure increases, and their hearts beat faster. Consequently, they experience mental and/or physical overload and fatigue, which further results to migraine, nausea, and other illnesses. When their minds/bodies become unbalanced, their cognitive abilities are negatively affected, too. They then suffer from constant negativity, inability to concentrate, poor memory and judgment, irritability or mood swing, and so forth. Some of the accompanying signs and symptoms for most people suffering from stress are under-/overeating, under-/oversleeping, restlessness, relationship problems, drug abuse, etc.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a British association for professionals in human resource management, long-term and excessive occupational stress (e.g., financial struggles, lack of advice in the workplace, etc.) must be dealt with effectively by means of proper information and application of stress management principles . Employees and managers should be well-equipped concerning stress policies and mental health issues to prevent stress in groups. Hence, organizational self-awareness and employee management skills on the part of managers/executives are important steps to help everyone manage stress or convert it to eustress in the workplace.
Beheshtifar, M. & Nazarian, R., 2013. Role of Occupational Stress in organizations. Interdisciplinary Journal Of Contemporary Research In Business, 4(9), pp. 648-657.
Occupational Health, 2012. CIPD provides stress management guidance tools. Occupational Health, 64(9), p. 5.