In organizations, gender inequality is an intricate phenomenon visible in practices, processes, and structures. For females, gender inequalities are typically perpetuated in the context of human resources (HRs) practices. The reason for the pervasiveness of gender inequalities in this department is because HRs policies and decisions affect the benefits, hiring, and career advancement of women. David (2014) suggests that gender discrimination stems from the wider organizational structures, practices, and processes, including organizational climate, culture, leadership, and strategy. The decision-makers’ degree of sexism tends to impact the chances of arriving at gender-biased decisions. Most critical institutional discrimination with processes, practices, and structures of an organization assumes a critical role because of the implications for HR practices. They present socializing context for decision-makers’ degree of benevolent and hostile sexism. Although gender inequality may be a self-reinforcing aspect that promotes behavior, there are critical levers to reduce organizational-level discrimination.
The workplace is often considered an inhospitable setting for women because of the myriad forms of inequalities. The gender wage gap, the time necessary for women to advance in positions, and the dearth of women in senior and leadership positions are some of the signs posts of how gender inequalities adversely impact women’s opportunities and earnings. Furthermore, workplace discrimination leads to lower economic status for women. Critically, these forms of discrimination are largely attributable to HR policies and other decision-making. Moreover, when workers interact with decision-makers on HR issues or when they are communicated with HR decision outcomes, they tend to experience discrimination through sexist comments. The deliberate disadvantages in status, opportunities, and work and stigmatized experiences impact women’s mental and physical health.
Gender inequalities in the human resources policy are a type of institutional discrimination. Evidence of institutional discrimination is markedly evident in employee selection, promotion, and performance evaluations. Conversely, discrimination in decisions emanates from decision makers’ prejudiced responses that come in the form of personal discrimination. Gender inequalities, accordingly, can impact others and promote a self-reinforcing system, which fosters institutional discrimination. The move may lead to discrimination in decision-making and implementation (Gotterbarn, n.d). As such, these gender inequalities relations between organizational structures, practices, and processes may be bidirectional. Therefore, human resources practices lead to gender inequalities in processes and practices.
It is critical to examine the relationship between decision makers’ degree of sexism and the chances of arriving at gender-biased decisions. It is also vital to consider the two types of sexist attitudes: benevolent and hostile sexism. Hostile sexism entails antipathy and negative stereotypes of women. Conversely, benevolent sexism is a paternalistic but positive perception of women as communal. While past studies on workplace discrimination have concentrated on hostile sexism, it is pivotal to consider benevolent sexism because it may contribute significantly to comprehending discriminative HR practices (David, 2014).
The comprehension of gender inequalities is limited to work, although studies have not been exhaustive (David, 2014). They concentrate on the experience of women at the workplace, and although men are also victims of discrimination, the former are often the target. Similarly, studies have shown that women are impacted psychologically more than men by gender biases at the workplace. Research from Western, capitalistic countries has been carried out in male-dominated settings because gender discrimination and harassment targeting women happen in male-dominated environments (David, 2014).
HR Related Practices
Discrimination is increasingly linked to HR practices that involve policies, decisions, and their implementation. Human resource is a system of practices within an organization seeking to manage employees and guarantee the achievement of organizational goals. The department’s functions include performance evaluation, hiring, training, and leadership succession. Based on the history and size of the organization, these systems can vary from well-supported and structured departments to a haphazard assortment of policies and procedures enforced by supervisors and managers without relevant training. These practices are highly relevant to determining employees’ access to valued outcomes and rewards in an organization and may impact their treatment (Heide, 2019).
Human resource practices can be classed into formal HR policy implementation and HR-related decision-making. These policies codify practices for performance evaluations, personnel function, resource planning, and employee relations. HR-based decision-making happens when decision-makers within the organization employ HR policy to establish its application to specific situations. The implementation of HR entails the personal interactions between employees or new hires with organizational decision-makers when policies are applied. While HR policy may mirror institutional discrimination, HR decision and their implementation may mirror the personal discrimination of decision-makers.
HR policies that prejudice people groups without accounting for their job-related skills, knowledge, and performance are considered institutional discrimination. This form of discrimination is common among women, and they touch on selection and hiring of people, role assignment, performance evaluation, pay, training, termination, and promotion. For example, when there is an underrepresentation of women in a specific educational program or job type, and an organization requires previous job experience or credentials for selection, there is systematic, although intentional, discrimination of women. Similarly, gender discrimination may also occur when a test is used in the recruitment battery upon which gender differences emanate that those associated with job performance (Heide, 2019). Therefore, institutional discrimination may occur in various elements of HR recruitment policy and can adversely impact women’s job outcomes.
Gender-based institutional discrimination can occur during performance evaluations used to establish organizational rewards, opportunities, and punishments. Organizations may formalize gender discrimination in the HR policies when criteria for performance evaluations systematically give preference to men. For example, ‘face time’ is a critical performance metric used for rewarding workers who dedicate more hours to the office. Since women also serve as caregivers, exploit flexible work schedules, and face more penalties because of the relatively lower face-time scores. Therefore, prejudiced performance evaluation criteria may promote gender discrimination.
The HR-related practices to decision-making entail social cognition to assess the potential, competence, and deservingness of others by decision-makers in organizations. Therefore, like other social cognition forms, decision-making is also subject to personal biases (Gotterbarn, n.d). HR decisions are crucial since they determine women’s opportunities and pay at the workplace. Personal discrimination against groups of people occurs in almost every stage of the decision-making processes involving performance evaluation, training opportunities, role assignment, recruitment, and hiring.
Studies show that women confront personal discrimination when taking part in the recruitment process. They reveal that when male-typed jobs are considered, managers tend to evaluate female candidates negatively and recommend them for work less often than their counterparts. For instance, in job interviews that involve applying for job openings, males are more likely to be invited for interviews than females (Gotterbarn, n.d). Men tend to be rated as comparatively more hirable and competent, offer relatively higher pay, and provided with more career guidance than the female groups. To sum, women confront significantly disadvantaged when considering male-type openings traditionally.
There is sufficient evidence that women confront biased evaluations on traditionally male-type jobs. A study established that there is a tendency for women in senior and leadership positions to be assigned lower scores in evaluations compared to their counterparts, and the concern is more significant when the position is stereotypically masculine (Heide, 2019). Moreover, in masculine domains, women are subject to relatively higher performance standards. For instance, in the military, women tend to receive lower ratings despite demonstrating indifference in performance. Similarly, women are evaluated lowly in cases that involve intricate problem solving. In such situations, evaluators are skeptical of women’s expertise and discredit their opinion with men given the benefit of the doubt.
Often some women tend to be discriminated against in the performance evaluation and selection decisions. Particularly, the assertive and task-oriented, agentic women are evaluated poorly and are less hired compared to male applicants of similar attributes. Moreover, there is evidence of biases against pregnant women during job applications (Rigolot, n.d.). Women that are mothers are rarely recommended for promotion compared to non-mothers or males without children. The stereotype content model explains why agentic women are discriminated against, and one of the reasons is a sense of competition. In contrast, pregnant women’s competence is questioned, and high warmth is seen as a lack of deservingness. Jointly, research uncovers that various forms of discrimination toward different women groups have a similar effect – bias in hiring and performance evaluation.
Women tend to receive fewer work opportunities than males, leading to underrepresentation at senior positions and leadership positions in organizations. Managers assign women less challenging roles and fewer training opportunities in comparison to males. For example, female managers and mid-level employees have little access high –level challenges and responsibilities that determine promotion. Moreover, men are likely to be assigned top leadership positions within male-dominated and female-dominated fields. The trend is detrimental considering that challenging roles, particularly developmental ones, help employees attain critical skills necessary to succeed in their careers.
Moreover, managers consider women to have less potential for promotion than males. Managers are less likely to recommend women given the same qualifications. Therefore, men can rise higher the organizational hierarchies, unlike women. Even a minimal degree of gender discrimination in job promotion decisions can have a significant, aggregate effect on the organizational pyramid structure. As such, discrimination by decision-makers within organizations can lead to under-promotion of women.
Ultimately, women receive lower pay than men. In an American study based on data between 1983 and 2000, before controlling for the factor that affects wage, it was established that women were paid twenty-two percent less than males. Moreover, in any given job group, men traditionally received more wages than women, and the wage gap was common in most occupations. In a study involving over two thousand managers, women received less compensation, unlike males, after reviewing the effect of human capital factors. Experimental work implies that personal biases by decision-makers contributed to the huge wage gap between genders. When participants were required to determine their starting salaries for jobs that differed based on gender, males were paid more (Rigolot, n.d.). These biases are consequential since starting salaries are directly related to lifetime earnings. When participants evaluated women vs. men matched on jo performance, managers choose to pay women less. Thus, discrimination in decision-making by HR managers can lead to less pay for women. Taken jointly, it is evident that women are discriminated against in HR decision-making. Such prejudices occur in every stage of decision-making in HR departments, and these decisions impact women’s opportunities, pay, and psychologically.
HR enactment refers to a circumstance where prospective or current employees come into contact with HR processes. Personal gender discrimination occurs when employees receive sexist messages related to decision-makers from organizational decision-makers. More particularly, this form of personal gender discrimination is referred to as gender harassment and comprises various forms of non-verbal and verbal behaviors, which convey insulting, sexist or hostile disposition about women. Gender harassment is the commonest form of sex-based discrimination. For instance, in the U.S. military, fifty-two percent of women interviewed reported that they have previously experienced gender harassment. Randomly sampling the attorneys affiliated to an expansive judicial circuit, women report that harassment has become a common aspect of their job. When exploring women’s experiences about gender harassment, sixty percent of the case were perpetrated by managers/supervisors or a person in a leadership role. Therefore, personal discrimination in the form of harassment is a typical behavior, although it is critical to establish whether the decision-makers promote it.
Although it might be unlikely that organizational decision-makers would share sexist messages to women when communicating news about HR decisions, there have been multiple lawsuits where the behavior was reported. For instance, in a class action against Walmart, women reported fewer promotion cases than women, notwithstanding their superior records and qualifications. In the lawsuit, the manager was accused of disclosing to the overlooked women that they were disregarded because of their gender. Additionally, when matched women and men apply for positions, women experience harassment when applying for traditionally masculine positions through sexist comments and discouraging or skeptical responses from the hiring panel. Ultimately, gender harassment also occurs in the form of denial of promotions and offensive comments aimed at women due to pregnancy. In the case Moore v. Alabama, an eight-month pregnant employee was denied ahead of office position because of her appearance. Therefore, organizational decision-makers most often convey sexist comments when issuing HR decisions. Although discrimination in HR decisions and policy is extremely difficult to notice, gender harassment in human resource enactment mirrors the existence of discrimination.
The “Sweatshop” Case
Sweatshops is a term used to refer to outsourcing manufacturing plants in developed countries where women are subjected to lower pay and unfair working conditions. Women are the dominant population in sweatshops and are commonly used as the primary source of cheap labor in Export Processing Zones. In developing countries, governments are willing to implement policies and laws on labor protection. Sweatshops are associated with low minimum wage, prolonged working hours, and unhealthy or risk working conditions (McGee, 2015). These facilities could have policies that limit working conditions, such as placing restrictions on bathroom usage, limiting conversations among workers, and overworking employees. At its worst, violence and power may be used to bully and frighten workers. Despite sweatshops being a major concern for the manufacturing sector globally, hyper-competition and globalization have always motivated leading corporations to exploit the lowly paid workers in sweatshops. Although myriad transnational companies have adopted strict and distinct anti-sweatshop policies, in nations such as Indonesia and China, outsourced supplies continue to use this approach clandestinely.
Despite concerted efforts from various stakeholders, the practices associated with sweatshops continue to thrive. Adjustment programs on organizational structure tend to be imposed by international bodies as the primary emblems of the global economy (McGee, 2015). These programs initially imposed based on capitalistic theories tend to act as barriers toward labor organizations. Therefore, the grounded conditions of economic and social climate render sweatshops possible and attractive for most industries. These governments view inexpensive labor as a critical resource they can use to attract investment domestically by multinationals. These investments lead to job creation and promote economic growth. They also claim that unfair labor practices and unemployment are inherent are historical problems, and government should exploit every means possible to achieve economic prosperity. It is also reported that sweatshops provide better pay and working conditions compared to what local companies offer (Pollak, 2016). According to these governments, their populations will be restricted to prostitution, survival farming, and begging without sweatshops. Outsourcing is viewed as a real instrument to share prosperity globally. It is believed that the expansion of value chains can potentially labor force skills and enhance working conditions for the host nations. While economic globalization compels companies to upgrade, such upgrades need to align with the enhancement of labor conditions in these nations.
Although the evidence of gender discrimination at the domestic level is compelling, it is mitigatable with the reality that outsourcing not only leads to cost reduction but also provides access to skill-sets and resources that might not be achievable domestically. Since most of the companies domestically are still competitive, it means they can create more jobs. As they increase their profitability, companies can finance other operations, provide a cheaper product, and observe the quality, meaning more job opportunities for the redundant workers externally. For poor working conditions and environmental and social concerns, most outsourcing companies today deploy world-class policies on work ethics and employ the systematic process of human resources. Similarly, they can insert clauses in the agreements that require providers to adhere to these higher standards of operation.
Literature reveals that it is easy to shift blame when there are few actors because the linking of cause and effect is direct, although it is not usually the case practically (Gotterbarn et al., n.d.). It is the reason the issue of moral responsibility continues to be an issue of interest in moral psychology. At the center of the discourse is whether a party should be morally responsible for wrongdoings they did not commit. This problem is of considerable importance since providers are just an element of the long supply chain. At the same time, it may be extremely difficult to hold the provider responsible for the harm caused. It is argued that an individual can only be responsible for the harms caused, and hence, providers cannot be held responsible since they are not in the position of harm. The entitlement asserts that moral responsibility involves causal responsibility. Critics of the entitlement argument enumerate instances where causation is unnecessary for the occurrence of harm. Acts of omission do not have a direct effect, although they can lead to damages.
Someone can be held responsible for actions they were not directly responsible for, but those harms need to be connected to their actions. Often, being a part of the causal chain does not necessarily mean being morally responsible. Opponents of the claim assert that not all incident of causal responsibility renders an agent morally responsible. However, they go to a state that agents may be morally responsible when they are linked to the event. It is possible to investigate the argument by considering a critical qualifier and one that reflects the assignment of responsibility by ordinary people. People indeed depend on normative, contextual, and pragmatic considerations to decide on the causes of an event. For instance, using commonsense to ascribe cause can allow people to assign responsibility. Based on these analyses, it is possible to make a preliminary allocation of responsibility for an ethical violation.
Today, production costs are no longer indicators of performance. Management control systems must remain conscious of social and environmental responsibility in their engagements. For sustainable environmental and social aspects, monitoring costs should not be outsourced. Reporting processes and management information systems have the potential to curb opportunism, although there are no contracts that can address these aspects in the global market in the future. It is the reason activists, stakeholders, and not-for-profit organizations have the mandate to monitor international operations.
For long, business research argues that there are multiple management tiers, cultural contexts, and long distances, which complicate oversight of sustainable operations. Therefore, transparency might engender satisfactory background upon which host country stakeholders can support the monitoring of social and environmental concerns. In general, contract and outsourcing thrive in nations with grounded institutional trust (Gotterbarn et al., n.d.). An emerging global business world should promote the growth of business-to-business contracts and ensure international trade agreements and legal systems provide necessary safeguards. Protected trademarks, brand, and company names act as the most appropriate shield against unscrupulous contractors. The capacity to navigate across the institutional-based trust to safeguard the integrity of brands complicates the arrival of logical institutional decisions.
The review assessed the ethics of outsourcing, and it has established the challenges organizations face while outsourcing production from other nations with sustainability contributing to performance ambiguity. The paper assessed ethical issues in outsourcing among American multinationals. Outsourcing is viewed as a great device to promote incentive collusion, reduce monitoring costs, lower opportunism, and create competitive advantages within the supply chains. However, the desire to outsource operations leads to unavoidable problems and may reduce ethical behavior when the focus is to reduce operational and production costs. The rising globalization of operations outsourcing over recent years has been a norm of classic models of competitive approaches. Over the past decades, private equity investors have increasingly placed pressure on production costs. Despite the cost of production being seemingly clear, the cost resulting from environmental and social impacts after outsourcing is concealed under contractual relationship networks. Companies believe that through outsourcing of non-core tasks from other vendors, they can not only reduce costs but also increase profits. The benefit of outsourcing is that it allows the company to focus on the main activities, such as new product development and sales and marketing, rather than maintaining a focus on non-core activities, such as back-office operations and administrative functions. The disadvantages associated with outsourcing become obvious when the specialized provider lacks the capacity to meet the expectations of the parent client. It is vital that the company aligns its processes to the principles and values of the outsourcing company and respects ideals.
Polices on HR surrounding opportunities and promotions are also an area of great concern. In institutions with formal job opportunities that constrain and dictate promotion opportunities, women rarely advance. It is common on job opportunities that are classed by gender, and job segregation for the entry-level position is strengthened with employees denied opportunities to cross lines. Therefore, women tend to lack the necessary job experiences to qualify women for career advancement. Institutional discrimination, in sum, can present in policies implemented to determine performance evaluations, employee hiring, and promotions. Such HR policies can significantly impact women’s careers. Contrary, HR policy can be used to guide decision-making.
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