The American workforce is becoming diversified than ever. The issue on workplace discrimination has been around since time immemorial. Discrimination is part of the process of three components, the cognitive, affective and behavioral. The behavioral component means the tendency to take negative actions against a particular group. The behavior stems form attitudes and feelings which constitute prejudice. Although prejudice is generally negative it is not as damaging as discrimination. The behavior component makes it possible to make the thoughts become real. Research has found that discrimination in any form is detrimental to the well being of the discriminated individual (Mathis & Jackson, 2004).
The workplace is the place in which the employee comes to work on his tasks and to carry out his profession. If the workplace is non-discriminatory, the employee is more likely to work effectively and efficiently and to increase productivity and performance as well. The most common methods employed by organizations to ensure that their work environment is non-discriminatory are to conduct sensitivity trainings, to provide provisions for grievances and complaints of discriminatory behavior and to follow non-discriminatory guidelines in terms of hiring, selection and promotions.
Sensitivity trainings are common in most organizations especially if the company is culturally diverse as well as sexual orientation, disability and religion. The advantages of using sensitivity trainings to make employees become aware of the prejudices and discrimination they may have for other people and teaches the employees how to change their thoughts about minority groups in an experiential manner. It also communicates to each employee that an individual is a person in his/her own right and should be respected as such, and not be accorded respect based on one’s race, religion or sex.
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The disadvantage in using this method is that if employees do not have a positive attitude towards the training then this would surely limit their capacity to learn from the sessions. Moreover, sensitivity trainings are periodically given and is not reinforced thus limiting its effectiveness. The provisions for grievances and complaints communicate to the employees that discrimination will not be tolerated by the management. It is effective as a control mechanism to lessen discrimination in the workplace and make the employees become cautious of their behavior. This method does not really ensure that the workplace would be discrimination free since it does not teach the employees why discrimination is wrong.
It only holds people accountable for their actions, although it gives the employees who belong to the minority group comfort. Besides, discrimination may come in subtle forms and not even many employees who are victims of discrimination will file a complaint for fear of repercussions in terms of inter-office politics. Hiring, selection and promotion of employees based on merit and performance is a non-discriminatory principle to ensure that people become part of the organization based on criteria that can be achieved by most people.
The difficulty with this measure is that although it is an objective measure, subjectivity is still present. It is common knowledge that when it comes to promotions and even selecting candidates for the job a certain amount of subjectivity that cannot be monitored by a guideline. It also does not consider that mangers may have their own prejudices which may dictate their decisions on hiring and promotion.
- Bohlander, G. & Snell, S. (2003). Managing Human Resources 13th ed., South-Western College Publication
- Fitzenz, J. (2001). How to Measure Human Resource Management 3rd. ed , New York;
- McGraw-Hill Mathis, R. & Jackson, J. (2004). Human Resource Management 11th ed., South-Western College Publication
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