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Ram Krishna Sahu 08BS0002579
The beginning of the 21st century brought with it a spate of problems for the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart. The company found itself facing one of the biggest lawsuits ever in the history of the US. Wal-Mart was charged with discrimination against its female employees in compensation, promotions and job assignments in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) . The plaintiffs alleged that Wal-Mart mistreated women in various ways: they earned much less than their male counterparts even when they had more experience than men or performed better than them. In June 2001, a former Wal-Mart employee, Betty Dukes (Dukes), had filed a case accusing the company of 'sex discrimination in promotions, training and pay. Many more employees joined Dukes, and by May 2003, the case had taken the shape of a class action suit after the plaintiffs asked a Federal Judge to allow the case to proceed on behalf of more than 1.5 million women. Wal-Mart had for long been accused of not treating its female employees in a socially responsible manner. A study of Wal-Mart's own employee data (conducted by some experts hired by the plaintiffs) revealed that women had been discriminated against in many instances. Even the company's internal memos revealed that Wal-Mart was far behind its competitors in promoting women at the workplace. * * * * * * * * * *
GENDER DISCRIMINATION Discrimination is a sociological term referring to treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group that is taken in consideration based on class or category. Gender discrimination refers to beliefs and attitudes in relation to the gender of a person. It is defined as adverse action against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. It is the practice of letting a person's sex unfairly become a factor when deciding who receives a job, promotion, or other employment benefit. It most often affects women who feel they have been unfairly discriminated against in favor of a man. Types of Gender Discrimination There are two main categories of gender discrimination: • Disparate treatment
The first category, disparate treatment, is simply treating an employee differently (disparately) because of her or his gender. For example - an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, or employers pay unequally based on gender. Disparate impact is a more complex concept. It regards company policies or practices that exclude persons of one gender from a job or from promotions although the policy or practice was not designed to do so. There is a disparate impact on one gender. An example is the policy of many fire departments that had strength requirements for hiring firefighter that far exceeded the strength needed by an individual to work effectively as a firefighter. Such excessive strength requirements had a disparate impact on women, many of whom had enough strength to be a good firefighter, but not enough strength to meet the department's requirement. Discrimination at work can come from either the employee of from the colleague side. Discrimination by colleagues can happen to new employees. They may face sarcastic stares or constant digs made at them by their colleagues during initial weeks. However, if it persists for a long time, it can affect not only the employee but also the employer. The effect on the employee can be huge or meager but the impact on organization remains for a longer time. An employee who is being discriminated witnesses non cooperation from peers and negative feedbacks form subordinates. Discrimination leads to psychological and emotional disturbance, resulting in demoralization and descend in performance standards. It brings down the overall performance, and fuels more discrimination, which in turn increases the number of gaps in one's work further. Discrimination at workplace also affects the society. The socio-economic inequalities get widened and social cohesion and solidarity are eroded. It results in wastage of human talent and resources. The main indicator which indicates that gender discrimination has occurred in the hiring process involves the qualifications of the job applicants. While a slight difference in qualifications between a female and a male candidate does not automatically indicate gender bias (if a lesser qualified male candidate is hired instead of a female candidate, that is), a drastic difference in qualifications has almost always been upheld by the courts as a sure sign of gender
discrimination. For example, if a male who dropped out of high school without receiving a diploma is hired in an administrative position over a female who had obtained her master's degree, then it is likely bias was a factor. Examples of Gender Discrimination at work
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An employee may be discriminated by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview An employer may not hire, promote or wrongfully terminate an employee based on his or her gender Employers pay unequally based on gender One is refused credit or is offered unequal loan terms based on one’s gender Employers in the past paid female workers substantially less than their male workers were making in the same job. Some employers fired female employees as soon as the employees became pregnant, even though these employees could have continued to perform their job duties. Female employees were passed over for promotion in favor of junior or less-qualified male employees Manager only promotes male employees and keeps females in entry-level positions. Manager who makes it clear, either through his actions or words that he wants to have sexual relations with a female employee.
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Despite the progress that individual countries and companies have made in addressing gender inequality and discrimination, there is still much to be done to achieve true equality in public institutions and in the corporate executive suite. Glass Ceiling is yet another form of discrimination towards women, which exists in the corporate hierarchy. Glass ceiling has been used as a metaphor for twenty years now to describe the apparently invisible barriers that prevent more than a few women from reaching the top levels of management. Compared to formal barriers to career advancement such as education, the glass ceiling refers to less tangible hindrances — frequently anchored in culture, society and psychological factors — that impede women’s advancement to upper management or other senior positions. One of the main reasons cited for the existence of a glass ceiling was that women did not have the required experience and skills to reach the top management. They were restricted to clerical and other support services jobs. The reason seemed to be true, as in the late 1970s and early 1980s, very few women had proper college education and fewer had management degrees.
Breaking Glass Ceiling Although there is a glass ceiling, many women recently have surpassed that hurdle. When at the top management, many women feel isolated like outsiders. Most of the time they are the only female at that level and are surrounded by males. Many women have faced sexual harassment, wage inequality, blocked movement and gender stereotyped roles. Women are said to have different styles of leadership and management once they break the barrier. They are generalized to be more nurturing and caring in nature than men. Men are stereotypically, more “tough” and shrewd in business, which is sometimes seen as positive traits. Women’s traditional role is in the home, taking care of children, and keeping house. The stereotype of maternal leadership stems from that. Some men in senior management that do not want to see women climb the corporate ladder believe that they do not have the qualities to lead a company. Many believe that making assumptions about the way women act in a leadership position perpetuates the stereotypes that cause the glass ceiling. There are many reasons why women have been able to break the barrier. Some believe that having women on an executive board is a positive thing. The more women that are accepted into management positions, the more will get promoted to senior management and serve as role models for the younger. Younger men have also been more accepting of female superiors. The perception of a woman’s role is changing with the younger generation. When it comes to breaking the glass ceiling in the corporate world, Ms Indra Nooyi has done it with aplomb — that too in the global arena. Chennai-born Nooyi is now slated to be one of the most powerful women in corporate America when she steps into the role of Chief Executive Officer at PepsiCo International later this year. Ms Nooyi's elevation has not come as a surprise to the corporate world. Over the past several years as President, CFO and Director on the company's board she has forged several changes that had already earned her the reputation of a doer, who has moved from strength to strength in the restructuring of the company.
In the developing countries, like India, Lalita D gupte (Lalita) was made the head of ICICI’s global operations. She also ranked 31 in the Fortune's Power Fifty 2001. Other examples included Kalpana Morparia, Senior General Manager (Legal), ICICI and Gayathri
Parathasarthy Head, Development Integration Services, a SBU for the IT services division at iFlex Solutions. Indian women achieved top management positions in corporates outside India as well. In August 2002, Naina Lal Kidwai (Naina) became the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the Indian investment banking division of HSBC. Naina was also ranked third on Fortune's list of Asia's most powerful women, and she was declared the 47th most powerful women in business in the world. Others included Jayashree Vallal, Vice-President at Cisco Systems, and Radha Ramaswami Basu, CEO of Support.com.
An ICICI Group Case Study
The ICICI case study presents how gender inclusivity is important for an organization to grow and why increased gender equality measures are necessary to keep an organization in a competitive global marketplace. A review of the case study would provide deep insights to other organizations intending to implement the best Gender Neutral practices at their work places. ICICI has been chosen as case study, as the ICICI culture, woven sub-consciously into the mindset of the institution over the years, has been that of clearly providing opportunities to its employees solely on the basis of merit and performance without any gender discrimination. It is this organizational mindset that has made it rewrite the rules of structure in corporate India. This fact is also corroborated by employee statistics - against a mere 4 per cent representation in senior positions in Fortune 500 companies, the women managers of ICICI occupy about 40 per cent of the corner offices in positions above the Assistant General Manager (AGM). This shows that the infamous “glass ceiling” does not exist in this organization. The entire group being headed by a Woman CEO, with two key group entities also following the same trend, is also a case in point. ICICI provides equal growth opportunities for its women employees and today the Company can boast of having important and critical functional areas which are manned by women employees. There is no discrimination of employees on the grounds of gender. The women employees represent 19.62 % of the total work force. ICICI’s philosophy to be a gender neutral organization
is reflective in all its policies, which seeks to ensure that both genders have equal opportunities and no preferential or discriminatory treatment is meted out to anyone on grounds of gender. ICICI has a well defined gender neutral policy and a complaint committee for sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Discriminatory policy of ICICI Discrimination and Harassment and Intimidation • ICICI Group is committed to prohibition of harassment and intimidation of employees in the workplace. ICICI Group discourages conduct that implies granting or withholding favors or opportunities as a basis for decisions affecting an individual, in return for that individual’s compliance. Such action is an easier form of harassment to identify because it takes the form of either a threat or a promise, whether explicit or implied. • ICICI Group has a Gender Neutral Policy that prohibits unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct where such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. How ICICI is dealing with Gender Discrimination
Pay attention to what you don’t always see. You can’t always see it, prove it, or stop it, but if you ignore even the hint of discriminatory behavior, you and your company could suffer in the long run. Low morale, employee conflicts, and even lawsuits are just a few of the serious problems that could arise.
Don’t play favorites. If you offer certain benefits to employees, make sure these perks are available to everyone. For instance, if you want to provide a flexible work arrangement for your older workers, avoid appearing discriminatory by being sure to offer this option to everyone.
Keep your personal beliefs personal. Your personal philosophy regarding race, religion, sexual orientation, and other potentially contentious issues should not affect your duty to monitor workplace discrimination, nor should it cloud your views regarding what’s legal and just.
Be careful of what you say and to whom you say it. It’s easy for an off-the-cuff remark — said by either you or an employee — to start an avalanche of bad feelings and even a charge of discrimination. Think before you say something that might be misconstrued, and teach your employees to conduct themselves similarly. People should not be afraid to be themselves, but they do need to be careful, sensitive, and knowledgeable about what’s okay to say and what’s better left unsaid.
Respond quickly. If an employee expresses concern about possible workplace discrimination, do what you can in the shortest period of time to resolve the issue. Allowing it to linger will only add to the employee’s anxiety and allow whatever may be occurring to continue. Establish a clear policy for yourself and others for dealing with the problem. Do some intelligence gathering by having an honest conversation with the person who has lodged the complaint. Who said what? What exactly happened? Who else was involved? Along with the help and guidance of your human resources manager, talk to the person who has been accused. Make sure to take (and safeguard) copious notes of your discussions.
Educate yourself. Stay informed about workplace discrimination. Talk with your peers in similar and different industries, read your daily newspaper for information about what’s happening locally, and conduct research on discrimination and harassment law. Find out what it means for you as an employer. Consider paying an attorney who specializes in this area a one- or two-hour consulting fee, and ask as many questions as you can. Think of your investment as part of the cost of doing business. In the long run, a short meeting could save you a lot of money.
Formalize the policy and the consequence. Create and post an antidiscrimination policy (or consider paying an expert to create one). Keep in mind that no antidiscrimination policy will be taken seriously unless you take concrete action against any possible wrongdoing. After you’ve assessed the situation and consulted a lawyer, determine how you’re going to proceed. If you discover that some kind of discrimination has taken place, decide if you will start with a warning, insist on counseling, or formally terminate the accused.
So there is a potential to address and eradicate all the problems. It is also proven that women have been contributing to the economic development of many countries but there lacks a realization and all their work go invisible. But, for a few super success stories like Kiran Mazundar Shaw of Biocon, Chanda Kochar, the incumbent MD & CEO of ICICI Bank, Mallika Srinivasan of Tractor And Farm Equipments (TAFE), Amrita Patel of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Vinita Bali of Britannia Industries, Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams of NASA, President Pratibha Patil, Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of UPA, Mamata Banerjee-MP, Jayalalitha (TN) from Indian Politics, Shobaa De, Arundhati Roy, Priety Zinta from IPL very few have achieved limelight they deserve. Although few women have been striving hard for women’s emancipation and overall growth along with several other causes like Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachchao Andolan, Mother Theresa-the Nobel Laurete, most of the contribution goes unnoticed. There should be a framework, an action plan to uplift women from the oppression and give them independence from gender discrimination.
1. http://www.gemconsortium.org/download/1232428620182/GEM_Global_08.pd f 2. http://www.fiwe.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=137 3. http://www.lijjat.com/ 4. http://awakeindia.org.in/main.php 5. http://www.the-week.com 6. http://www.icici.com 7. http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/0/4/3/2/p104322_inde
9. Business Ethics and Corporate Governance by ICMR India Ltd.
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