Workplace Inequality: Why? How?

Do you have that time to ponder over that subject? What is workplace equality? The success of a brand depends a lot on how their employees are treated and how the employees perceive their “importance” to the organization. In this era of free information and the dominance of social media, nothing remains unnoticed by the internet-savvy people.

Workplace equality is a debatable matter. In fact, most aspects of it are undecided yet. Let’s consider those aspects a little elaborately.

What’s workplace equality?

In its simplest form, workplace equality is treating every employee as per corporate norm and legal framework. It’s a way to bring the best possible opportunity for every employee and rewarding them exactly they deserve. When we say “they deserve”, we have to understand that there is no space for “personal choice” or “preference”. The manager or management needs to follow employment terms and conditions, corporate etiquette, and employment laws.

From the employees’ perspective, workplace equality means there is no discrimination on the basis of age, sex, socio-economic background, religion, ethnicity, location, education, or anything else.

In absence of all these, inequality prevails.

Let’s make the matter a little more elaborate for better understanding:

Ms. X and Mr. Y are occupying the same positions in the same department whereas Mr. Y gets promoted to the next level because the new position needs more traveling. The management thinks that female employees couldn’t be sent to distant locations.

In the back office of a bank female employees are asked to leave the office by 6 PM whereas many male employees need to work some more hours.

MR. Z got two promotions in consecutive years while his colleagues are still in the same positions. Mr. Z is a good performer so also many of his colleagues but he is a close relative of the manager.

The manager finds faults in Mr. P’s most jobs. The manager thus micromanages Mr. P’s assignments that have become irritating for Mr.P.  

There is no special arrangement in the bathroom of the office whereas almost 5 employees are physically challenged.

These are some examples of workplace inequality. Remember, inequality is not discrimination but many incidents of inequality lead to discrimination. Inequality is a mere apathy or ignorance of the management in extending rights, benefits, and privileges to the employees that are ethically correct or as we discussed above what the employees “deserve”. Most common inequalities as could be seen in the corporate world occur out of instant decisions or short-slightness of the management (we’ll discuss the difference of Inequality and Discrimination in some other article).

Root causes of workplace inequality

The issue is so widespread and deep-rooted in the corporate environment that it’s hard to mention a few causes of workplace inequality. It can invade an organizational environment anytime in any disguise. Sometimes it’s a sheer perception that of a group of employees or an individual one regarding anything happening around them perceived as inequality:

Female employees are asked to leave the office premises within 6 PM whereas their male counterparts are working for some more hours. The management has taken this decision because most of the female employees feel unsafe traveling alone at night. But some male employees perceive this as an injustice to male employees. 5

Mr. P indeed makes mistakes. Due to his mistakes, the performance of the team has deteriorated in the recent past. The manager tries to mentor him so that he doesn’t make any mistake that seems micromanagement to Mr.P.

The apparent cause of inequality

PERFORMANCE EXPECTATION OF THE MANAGEMENT

Management thinks that a certain group of employees are better than the others.

The root cause of inequality

This perception leads to favoritism.

  • Gender biases – Common perception that male employees are more productive than female employees (this perception has several socio-economic reasons) that leads to favoritism.
  • The perception that employees with disabilities are not as productive as normal employees – Employing disable people might need special arrangements in the workplace and they wouldn’t be able to be as productive as other employees. It leads to favoritism.
  • The perception that aged employees are less productive – There is a common perception that senior employees could not take the pressure of responsibilities. Managers prefer young employees. It leads to favoritism
  • The perception that close acquittances are more loyal – Business owners or members in management perceive close acquaintances will be more loyal. It leads to favoritism.

There are hundreds of other reasons of favoritism – race, religion, education, nationality, family background, economic background, social relations, family status, previous workplace acquittances, and many more.

X and Y are close friends but, in the office, X is the boss of Y. They work for an insurance company; soon, the employees noticed that boss attends the clients of Y more often.

X’s brother is a popular singer. Boss and higher management are often found to be calling X to get the news of his famous brother. X gets special treatment in the office that his colleagues never enjoy.

X was the boss of Y in Z organization. X changed his job a year before. Coincidentally, Y joins in the same organization 6 months later. X was elated to get Y and gave him a special project that the senior employees in that organization were expecting.

So, the one word that comes over and again is “Favoritism”.

THE ROOT CAUSE OF WORKPLACE INEQUALITY IS FAVORITISM.

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