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Gender and Composition Issues in the Workplace

Does Your Gender Matter?

There are many ethical issues that relate to gender and the general composition of the typical American organizational structure. Heterogeneity seems to be prevalent still in most American organizations. Which, to this day, still causes dramatic issues in the workplace for those affected.

Essentially, this topic is one of “Occupational Segregation”—that is the idea that in and out groups develops naturally in any organizational entity, whether it’s a government, private business, non-profit or anything else.

Though the issues would be too tough for us because the subject contains a multitude of ethical issues too complex to be discussed at length, we’ll talk about a couple of things. Composition issues affect to a large degree cross-group contact, stress, employee engagement and satisfaction, turnover; cohesion, stereotyping and performance evaluation. (see Reskin et al) and related topics such as compensation levels and morale.

Let’s take the entry point to the organization—recruitment and selection..

The founding block of an organization’s makeup or structure can usually be viewed as recruitment and selection process.

Organizational recruiting is moderated by a number of legal guidelines that include Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA and other laws and regulations. However, the ethical issues presented apply when the law is not in effect. For, example private firms who wish to do business with the government must take on an “Affirmative Action Plan” to increase the hiring of disadvantaged groups. In these organizations, the business must exceed $50,000 in revenue and the business must employ a minimum of 50 employees. Note that although the representation of women and minorities mirror those of the workforce or labor pool, that minorities and women are largely under-represented in a significant portion of U.S companies.

For example, “almost one in 4 establishments employ no minorities…in one establishment in nine, less than 10% of full-time employees are female..” says Reskin. Logically, and based on the latter two points, if minorities and females are drastically under-represented in so many firms across the United States, yet, the hiring of those same groups as reflected to be representative when compared with their shares of the labor pools, then firms who are obligated to do business with the government under an affirmative action plan should be doing a significant share of the hiring of these groups.

In other words, if the executive order requiring government contractors to hire disadvantaged groups was not in effect and assuming that current under-representation of minority racial and gender-based groups continued, then current hiring of these groups would not reflect their share of the overall labor pool.  This forced compliance is what I believe to be the central ethical issue of this topic.

However, one must note that there are many factors in play that would be out of the scope an ethics discussion. Factors that include historical timelines, cultural and socio-economic changes have and do contribute to this ethical dilemma. In other words, issues related to the recruitment and selection of minority and sex-based groups may not necessarily all be attributed to foul play.

To illustrate, one can assume that local organization tend to hire locally. Essentially then, the labor pool of any given entity has a geographic restriction; and race-based communities tend to develop within geographic contexts. Therefore, there may be occasions where hiring of disadvantaged groups does reflect the local labor pool but is restricted by the labor supply itself.

Nevertheless, hurdles to the increase of hiring of minority race and sex groups can be mitigated by formalizing the recruitment and retention processes. Race and gender-based groups tend to let individuals of their own gender and race groups know about jobs in their own organizations. Subjective hiring procedures, vague skill criteria and the old buddy system augment this issue significantly.

There are some hurdles in recruitment and selection process. Many of the hurdles can be mitigated through the formalization of the hiring process and the active participation of all employers to even out the field. There is room for additional research on this topic.

About The Author
Joseph A.E. Shaheen
Computational Social Scientist. Former Consultant. Current Phd Student. Editor of the Human Talent Network community blog. I fought ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in my own way. Livin' life in Washington, DC
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