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In the recent years, competition between businesses operating in similar fields has drastically surged. This is attributable to the raised technological knowhow, increased cohesion at work places, raised customer experiences because of well-trained work force, and minimal entry requirements for entrepreneurs among other notable factors. As a result of this, business owners have been enormously required to attract and retain highly qualified staffs, to ensure short and long-term sustainability of their businesses. However, despite attracting and retaining the highly qualified staff,, the progress of most businesses has been hampered by the issue of discrimination and racism, thus significantly reducing the overall output (Ethnic Majority 2010, p. 1). This is mostly common in the developed countries, such as the U.S. and U.K. among others, where the majority of employees working in a given firm come from different cultural backgrounds.
Since the enactment of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. to combat discrimination, there has been a significant shift on the ways in which discrimination operates in various workplaces. Further Wrench (2009, P. 1) argues that as traditional social norms permit overt segregation and racism gives way to the modern norms of egalitarianism, the issue of discrimination now operates as a perpetual tug on the opportunities and advancement rather than discrete or blanket policies within an organisation. As stipulated in the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an individual seeking for an employment or employed by a firm that has more than 15 employee should not be discriminated against due to her or his colour, sex, religion, and nation of origin among other notable factors. In the developed and emerging economies, the respective governments have placed tougher penalties to those businesses owners who perpetuates the vice of discrimination based on the above characteristics. It is based on this reasoning that this paper will critically evaluate the factors that have continued to propagate discrimination despite the numerous moral arguments, existing legislation, as well as the business case of diversity, all aimed at suppressing this vice. In this paper, a lot of focus will be made to the work and career experiences of ethnic minority.
History of Discrimination to the Ethnic Minority Groups in Workplaces
Nicole (2012, p. 2) indicates that the term discrimination can be termed as a prejudice treatment of a person based on their memberships in a particular category or group. This entails the actual behaviours directed towards groups like, for instance, restricting or excluding members of a particular group from opportunities that are available to the other group. Further, discrimination can be termed as the mistreatment of groups or individuals because of their religion, race, disability, age, nationality, physical demeanour, or sexual orientation among other notable characteristics. It is notable that discrimination in workplaces has had one of the longest and troubling histories across various parts of the globe. Since the early stages of the industrial revolution, numerous groups of people have faced exclusion from the work place, arbitrary terminations, and harassment (Ethnic Majority 2010, p. 1).
Throughout this modern period, labour unions and, to lesser extents, governments and state organs have worked together with the basic aim of rectifying these forms of inequalities in work places. Singer (1999, p. 12) argues that the advent of the steam-powered engine as well as the enormous need for cheap labour can be termed as the first instances of the workplace discriminations. During the period of Great Depression, the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Act) highly propagated discrimination in the U.S. The Act, which was aimed at lifting the American farmers out abject poverty, was drafted in ways that it hindered them from benefiting from the Act. With limited prospects for work in the South, most of African Americans headed straight to Detroit, Chicago, and Buffalo among other industrialized regions in Northern part of the U.S. As stipulated by Huebsch (2010, p. 14), in the present times, there has been a drop in workplace discrimination due to the changing laws and cultures. This is arguably lower as compared to the start of Industrial Revolution and American Civil War. However, it is notable that discrimination still exists based on cultural shifts. For instance, in the U.S. and other developed countries, there has been anti-Muslim backlash due to the September 11th attack while some of it is based on latent sexisms, racism or other hurdles that colour the treatment of an employer towards the employees. Consequently, most of the unions and organisations have put up as spirited fight to avoid the repeal of the anti-discrimination laws despite numerous objections from businesses as well as their supporters.
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Types of Discrimination
There are various types of discrimination in work places. Tajfel and Turner (2009, p. 11) argue that the employment discrimination in workplaces may take various forms, which includes illegal hiring or firing, denial of promotions, unequal pay, and on-the-job harassment. As indicated above, there are several state and federal statutes which protect employees from discrimination, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act drafted in 1967.
According to Lawton (2000, p. 14), there are four notable types of discrimination in workplaces. One type of workplace discrimination is known as direct discrimination. This takes place when employer treats his or her own employees less favourably. For instance, discrimination can be termed as a direct one if a certain job position was open to either male or female applicants only. However, there are limited situations, in which an employer can make a genuine occupational requirement for a given job (Ethnic Majority 2010, p. 1). For instance, a religious organisation may be able to restrict job applicants to those who subscribe to the religion.
The other type of discrimination is an indirect discrimination. This is a type of discrimination whereby the set rules or working conditions enormously disadvantage a certain group of people as compared to the other people working in the same organisation. Whether it is done on purpose or not, indirect discrimination is considered to be unlawful (Green 2011, p. 7). Harassment is the other type of workplace discrimination. Sunga (2004, p. 70) indicates that harassment is an intimidating or an offensive behaviour, such as racial abuse and sexist language among others, all aimed at undermining, injuring, or humiliating the target individual or a group of people. For instance, in the recent, the football governing body, FIFA, has been forced to fine or suspend players using offensive languages to their fellow teammates or players from other teams. The other type of workplace discrimination is victimisation. Wirth (2009, p. 8) candidly indicates that victimisation is happened when an individual is treated less fairly due to the fact that they tried to make or have made complains about a certain form of discrimination. For instance, the victimisation may be preventing one from attending a training course, excluding one from social events organised by the company, or even taking unfair disciplinary actions against an employee.
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Discrimination to Ethnic Minority Group’s Work and Career Experiences
As indicated above, discrimination enormously affects a particular group of people in a given organisation. It is a fact that all large societies contain ethnic minorities. Their language, life, origin, and culture may differ significantly from the majority of people in the society. The minority status is highly conditioned not only by the clear numerical relations but also through the questions of the political power. In some places, the subordinate ethnic groups can constitute numerical majority like in the case of apartheid in South Africa, where Blacks were the majority. The term minority can also be defined as racial groups or immigrants as regarded by those people who claim to speak for the majority as unassimilated and distinct. Karp and Sutton (1993, p. 14) indicate that in countries like the U.S. and other countries in the European Union, the ethic minority includes Africans, Asian Americans, and Latinos among other notable groups.
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In most work places, the minority groups of people have enormously contributed to business case for diversity, thus enhancing short and long-term sustainability of businesses. Osterman (2000, p.11) argues that in order to achieve work place diversity, there is a need for businesses to incorporate employees from various cultural backgrounds. According to Rothschild (2000, p. 63), the opportunities for all employees to attain their maximum potentials at the workplace have become a fundamental human right. In the last decade, it has become clear that firms ought to pursue workplace diversity as one of their competitive necessities.
At the intuitive levels, it is evident that a well-managed diversity is a great source of satisfaction for all employees, regardless of their backgrounds, such as race, genders, creeds, levels of physical abilities, or their sexual orientations. However, it should be equally apparent to employers and stakeholders that when business case for diversity is ineffectively managed, it could be a significant source of fear, anger, frustrations, as well as concerns regarding one’s future security (Osterman 2000, p.11). In the U.S. the SMAS (Society of Management Accountants study), along with other notable bodies, has drawn a strong relationship with existing diversity programs adopted by organisations to employees turnovers, commitment to the business activities among other general satisfaction levels (Bolton & Feagin 2004, p. 8). Despite the highly levels of unemployment in most parts of the globe, as a result of the recent global financial crises, there is an urgent need for organisations to tap capabilities and talents of all segments of labour force. This way, they will be able to acquire the needed levels of human resource, a factor that will significantly ensure short and long-term sustainability of various businesses. In Canada, the ethnic minority, 85% of who are immigrants from the neighbouring countries and Europe has historically played an enormous role in composition of the country’s labour force. For instance, in 1957, 80% of the Canadian immigrants came from the mainland Europe, the U.K., and white males made up to 60% of the entire workforce.
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However, since the immigration laws in Canada were expanded in 1967, over 80% of the workforce immigrants are usually non-white, majority of whom are currently working in deplorable conditions. In the next decade, it is estimated that the Chinese population working and living in Canada is projected to surge by 130%, Black – by 90% while the South Asians will increase by 120%. Generally, it is notable that organisations, which hire people with commitment and necessary skills, cannot undermine the potential contribution of their employees. This is due to the fact that the employees are of different genders, sexual orientations, subcultures, thus they possess vast cultural experiences, which is crucial in any workplace.
In Finland, it has been established that over 30% of the workforce have had employees from ethnic minorities (Laukkanen 1997 p.1). This number is even higher in the public sector, where it is estimated that at least 43% of the labour force is composed of ethic minorities. On the other hand, in the private sector and industries, the ethnic minorities constitute 38 and 26% of the labour force respectively (Laukkanen 1997 p.1). However, it is sad to note that, despite the enormous contribution of the ethnic minorities in Finland, over 12% of this group report cases of racial discrimination annually. Over 6 and 11% of employers and colleagues respectively from multiethnic workplaces had already discriminated against the ethic minorities. Both the colleagues and employers are reported to have discriminated against the ethnic minorities in over 5% of the multiethnic workplaces (Szczesny 1996, p. 11).
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In other countries in the European Union, such as Germany, the U.K., and Spain among others, discrimination is mainly flagrant in the public sectors, of which 16% is in the multiethnic workplaces. However, the figure is lowest in the industries as compared to the other sectors. Smith-Doerr (2004, p. 53) attributes the high levels of discrimination in the public sector to the subsidized work arrangement given to the immigrants by the respective labour administrations. Consequently, the permanent employees often find this type of measures as highly external, a factor that may easily make them discriminate and recent against this subsidized category of employees. In most regions, discrimination practises are usually manifested by contact avoidance, prejudice behaviours, as well as keeping watch on employees from ethnic minority (Osterman 2000, p.12).
Resolving Discrimination for Ethnic Minority Group in Workplaces
As indicated above, the problems, which are brought about by discrimination in work places, especially to those employees who are from ethnic minorities, cannot be underrated. As witnessed in South Africa among other developing economies where employees from minority groups have been forced out of work places due to xenophobia and racism, there is an urgent need for governments, unions, and other stakeholders to effectively solve the vice that could hugely jeopardize the output in workplaces (Mayhew 2010, p. 1). This is because discrimination and racism in places of work are disruptive behaviours, which limit the company’s performance, profitability, and productivity enormously. Likewise, racisms and discrimination on ethnic minorities results in reducing the company’s reputation that can ultimately lead to the collapse of a given firm. Gandz (2001, p. 1) indicates that there are several drastic measures that can be adopted by employers in an effort to reduce the adverse effects of discrimination in workplaces.
One of the main ways in which organisations can minimise discrimination in the workplace is through recruitment. Schultz (1990, p.77) argues that discrimination and racism, especially to employees from minority groups, mostly results from the lack of knowledge and exposure as well as reduced diversity within the workforce. Based on this argument, there is a need for employers to develop and enact recruitment strategies that promote diversity in workplaces, thus allowing employees to improve their altitudes towards various cultures and races (Mayhew 2010, p. 1). For example, programs like those aimed at raising the job boards, through which recruiters post the vacancies as well as recruiting diverse pool of extremely qualified applicants, is one of the method that can be employed to achieve this. The other tool that can be used is through training. As strongly recommended by EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) from the U.S., all employers should offer training to the employees concerning unfair employment laws and practises. A lot of emphasis ought to be placed on those practises and laws that prohibit harassment and discrimination in the places of work. Henrard (2000, p. 31) candidly argues that all employees must effectively understand the fact that discrimination and racism are extremely unlawful, for which there exists several consequences.
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In the U.S., EEOC has been proactive in offering technical advice, on-site training, and guidance to employees as well as employers in different sectors of the economy. The TWC (Texas workforce Commission) also offers material and guidance for training employees on non-discrimination. There is a need for firms to develop strong policies addressing the issue of discrimination and racism in workplaces. For instance, an organisation can enforce zero tolerance rules on incidences of discrimination and racism. These policies are fundamental to any given business since they are based on some notable civil rights like the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as well as other state and federal laws prohibiting discriminatory practices (Mayer 2001, p. 10). In addition to this, the policies would ensure that values and philosophies prescribed by a given business are highly consistent with social responsibility and dependable corporate citizenship. In addition to training on the employment laws as well as the legal ramifications concerning discrimination and racism, employers may think about the diversity awareness trainings.
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From the above study, one can clearly see that discrimination among various industries across the globe have significantly hampered growth. As seen in the developed countries, discrimination among the minority ethnic groups in government offices and industries among other places has damaged the reputations of the affected individuals and industries. In order to reduce this vice, there is a need for labour unions, governments, and other stakeholders to take proactive measures, aimed at educating the public on the need to embrace one another, regardless of their backgrounds (Mayhew 2010, p. 1). For instance, the training carried out by the U.S government to the general workforce has had an enormous impact to the workforce, thus encouraging innovation and inventions in the country. Consequently, there will be the creation of a cohesive workforce that will ensure short and long-term sustainability of all organisations.
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