Nowadays, the problem of discrimination has been occurred across country, region to region, especially in work place and it has been rising. Employer and employee have suffered from this circumstance directly and indirectly throughout any form of discrimination. No matter what the form of discrimination is, it can cause in many unacceptable and unpleasant behaviors and of course, a negative effect to company. In the hiring or recruitment process, an employer probably disregards a certain group of employees when issuing promotions. With little or no information about the qualifications of other applicants, the relevant needs of the employer or requirements of the job, applicants who may have been unfairly dismissed because of their race or gender are often left unaware or unable to act (Bendick & Nunes, 2012). While, an employer might favor and give privilege for a certain group of candidates, such as those in a specific age range or of a specific gender. Once the employee is recruited, employee is being treated differently and sometimes unfairly because of several reasons which will be described in this paper comprehensively. In a mean time, ones may be familiar with the word ‘discrimination’ but some of them possibly have no clear picture what it really means and how this has an impact on the context of their jobs and working environment.
Discrimination, so-called “harassment”, does unavoidably affect to many aspects of working in daily life, rationally and emotionally. Forcing within and outside workplaces can result in the mistreatment of workers (individually or as a group) through unjust practices (Jones 2000, Turney 2003, Hodson, et al. 2006, Lopez, et al. 2009).
Types of Discrimination in workplace
There are several forms / types of discrimination in workplace which we would like to explain in this paper including; Age, Gender, Race and Nationality, Skin Color, Education Background, Disabilities, and Connections with Supervisors / Higher up in the company. Although, there are more than 7 forms of discrimination in some source, but I would like to focus on these forms because they have played substantial role in today’s workplace and its environment.
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Age Discrimination in workplace
First type of discrimination, ageism, it is common for societies to divide themselves into various age groups for the purpose of attributing rights and responsibilities, and in fact some age differentiation can be useful such as primary education for the young and pensions for the old. However, some form of age differentiations is harmful, it occurs when one age group is treated differently from another resulting in unequal treatment or service. For the workplace, this practice let a person’s age unfairly become a factor to decide who’ll receive a new job, promotion, or benefits. Decisions about terminating employees also cannot be solely based on their age. Age discrimination normally affects older workers rather than against in the younger workers, but there has also been some case that younger workers being displaced by the older.
It used to be that age discrimination was something that happened to old people which being more than age of 60, but today it happens to workers who by any other measure are young. People in their 40s and 50s are harder to find jobs, also easier to lose jobs as well. Between 1970 and 1991, the number of workers over the age of 40 in the U.S. workforce rose from 39,689,000 to 53,940,000. It is no surprise, then, major developments, both legislative and judicial, occurred in the area of age discrimination in employment. (Falk, Ursula Adler, and Gerhard Falk. 1997. Ageism, the Aged, and Aging in America: On Being Old in an Alienated Society. Springfield, III.: Charles C. Thomas.)
Age discrimination can occur at all levels of society: within government, within the private sector, and within the community. Any person or group can experience age discrimination. Older people are a large age cohort subjected to particularly high levels of discrimination, much of it institutionalized. Age discrimination toward older people is primarily influenced by the concept that an individual’s physical and mental capacity is negatively affected through ageing, and younger people are therefore more able. The individual’s physical might be more affected with the career that concern about external looking such as flight attendants or actors, due to the attractiveness is one of significant factor. Also, new generations of people are assumed to have more creativity and innovation in implementing new ideas, for the marketing or advertising industry, mental capacity is required to create any new initiatives. Then, employers seeking to cut costs by shedding workers who earned higher salaries and benefits by virtual of seniority and experience.
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These causes are influencing the short and long-term economic consequence. First of all, it creates a negative environment and poor perceptions of company management. Your workers will be less interested in implementing higher productivity. Then, loss of experience and potential, the company will lose the extensive work experience and knowledge of older employees. In term of ageism again against younger employees, your business may lose the potential to mold and keep a valuable employee for the year to come. Sometimes, the unintended result of causing your employees to leave your company because non-targets of the discrimination may concern that they could lose their jobs due to age or some other form of discrimination. It affects your productivity to go down and lose the potential and skills of your employees to your competitors. Moreover, many states have enacted laws that prohibit age discrimination. The employees may sue your company that you illegally discriminated against, resulting in a financial penalty and negative public image of your company.
The ways to avoid age discrimination in your workplace are beginning at every level of your company should be concerned to have training, specifically on discrimination and diversity. The training will help both supervisors and employees understand the benefits of age diversity and the effects of discrimination in workplace. Then, they have to put and clearly defined the policies that company would not tolerate unfair treatment based on age, especially new employees. After that, the employers use employees’ performance to be as a base in evaluating the rewards such as promotions, salary adjustment, or other preferential treatments instead of their age or experience. Also, when it’s time for reduction the workforce, employers should consider that do not making decision based on the age but value to the company.
There is an interesting case relating to age discrimination, in 1985, Western Air Lines v. Criswell, they required flight engineers to retire at age 60, claim that to ensure the public safety. By the way, Supreme Court determined that an employer cannot set maximum age limit without the proof that the public safety would be significantly repercussion by allowing an individual to work rather than age.
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Gender Discrimination in workplace
No matter we are men or women, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, no one should be treated unfairly in the work place since we are all have the equal rights to act or be acted. This should be realized for most people in the work place or any other environments but this problem, a gender discrimination, still occurs globally. In accordance of Pew Research Center survey data in 2017, it said 42% of women in United State had faced gender discrimination problem.
This figure has shown the result of the survey. Four-in-ten of women thought they experienced gender discrimination while there is only two-in-ten of men had said so. There are 8 areas which they (both men and women) experienced the discrimination concerns which are; earning issue, work competency, repeated small slights at work, supports from supervisor/ leader, assignment allocation, isolation feeling, promotion issue, and jobs rejection.
Gender Discrimination, Sex Discrimination, Gender Inequality, these words have contextually same meaning. It means any distinction, exclusion or restriction made based on sex which has the effect or purpose of devaluating the recognition, action or exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, of the equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, social, cultural, economic, civil or any other field in the work place. For instance, some employer may think they should not recruit any women to do the men’s job and they don’t hire, eventually. Some management may withhold promotion for female employee where as they uphold male’s promotional opportunity. Pay and benefit have also been considered as well as individual’s work tasks. However, The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 includes some general exceptional circumstance. This means that discrimination may not be against the law in particular situation. For instance, the employer will probably set the regulation or norm of individual if it’s considered as a genuine
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occupational requirement for this to take place, such as pertaining decencies and privacy (for example, in a fitting room or toilets). “The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission” also spread out that the gender discrimination is classified into direct and indirect discrimination. For direct one, simply means the employee is treated unfavorably because of their sex, whilst indirect discrimination will be occurring if employers or managers hold
Although, women are most commonly the subject of gender inequality in the workplace, men are also discriminated too. Ventura Corporation, a wholesaler of beauty products, was sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for discriminating against men because the company denied hiring men as sales representative. Resultingly, the EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Ventura engaged in a pattern or practice of refusing to hire men.
There are several reasons why the gender discrimination happens in the workplace. The root cause of this issue is Prejudice / Pre-judgement. Ones have said, men are viewed as capable where as women are mostly viewed incapable When judgement about women is made in advance without actually observing them, examining their personality and working style, it is called prejudice towards women. Gender role and gender bias are also the reason. For example, of gender role, some role requires an extensive of working hours with extensive business travel for the preferred path to promotion and that may be a disadvantage for women to get promoted. For gender bias, effective leaders are thought to be determined, confident, and strong – mostly masculine attributes. But when women act this way, they can be viewed as aggressive, abrasive, and uncaring. Besides, they are also perceived as being less ambitious than men because of their focus on family responsibilities. Another one technical term of discrimination is The Glass Ceiling. It’s a situation that prevents women from reaching higher and better-paying positions for which they are qualified. Since the causes have to come with the effects, as usual, there are some negative consequences of the gender discrimination. The mental health issue is the first unavoidable problem for the ones who are discriminated. Actually, this is the effect for all type of discrimination. This will rise employee’s anxiety level and their conflict among the work place. Once the conflict occurs, there will be bringing about negative teamwork area which also affect to overall job
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performance. Workers productivity and their quality will be dropped and will be costly to employer finally because of the turnover. It is a domino effect.
However, there are still rooms to solve or prevent this situation. Employers should be diversifying the training process since the training is crucial at all levels of an organization for employees to become educated about the advantages of gender equality. This helps to lower gender biases. Employers should also encourage women to enter fields which may have traditionally been male-dominant and eliminate unfriendly circumstance in the workplace. Young women have been encouraged to enter male-dominated fields—engineering and high technology, for instance. Women in leadership roles can play an important role in inspiring and recruiting other talented and driven women. Coaching by successful male executives is also helpful, anyway. Identifying talent and offering leadership program to get more women into the capable resource, strategies and action plans customized for a company’s culture and business objectives need to be created. Leadership building programs could include formal learning sessions, coaching by executives, advisory forums, workshops, and networking. Women are more likely to have uncertain career paths, they may be leaving (without pay) for maternity leaves and choosing jobs that they can work from home. Senior management needs to be understanding of women’s needs and chosen career path, then applying career flexibility for them. Last but not least, a reasonable and achievable target need to be set, and progress needs to be monitored effectively. This allows continual
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improvements made throughout the organization and strategies adapted to meet changing business and employee requirement or needs.
Racial and National Discrimination
Discrimination at work based on race and national origin make the unfair employment decisions such as hiring, promotions, compensation, job assignments, training, and terminating for diverse employees. The race remains a thing of the past which be subtle and difficult to detect, while nationality could be defines by country of origin, culture, accent, ethnicity. Nevertheless, employees can be treated unfavorably or poorly when their race or nationality play as a role in employers’ decision. Nowadays, there are more diverse workforce, this brings an advantage to the company due to more diverse workplace also means diversity of experience and knowledge to share. In the meantime, conflicts can also increase from the several causes of inter-ethnic in the workplace. An equal employment opportunity of every racial and national employee cannot be denied, as long as their cultural practices or characteristics do not significantly interlope with the ability to perform their jobs or carry out the operation of the business anyway. It may be possible that some higher qualified employee might not be hired or promoted to the position, but another applicant in the different race or nationality do, due to the discrimination.
The most common cause of inter-ethnic discrimination is preconceived believes about the people of another ethnic group, and they express in relationships and behavior. Also, several ethnic groups perceive that they are more privileged than others, this can be one of the motives that drive the workplace conflict. Then, the offensive about an individual’s national origin, ethnicity, accent, or different characteristic can cause a hostile or displeasing work environment. It shows that the climate in the workplace is an important element in preventing inter-ethnic conflict, which employer must consider handling with this harassment. Experiencing unfair treatment or discrimination in workplace contributes to poor health and high stress for employees, also they couldn’t allow to achieve their full potential in workplace. Then, leading company into negative working environment in the long run, if allowing the discrimination to continue because it shows that the behaviors are acceptable. So, if there is no any mechanism in place to resolve the continuous workplace conflicts, the
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feelings of employee involved will stronger and they will be more sensitive due to the matter of race and ethnicity. By handling with issue before they become unmanageable, company must act to prevent the serious problems.
The way to resolve race and nationality discrimination can be manifested in several ways. Company should start to set up an anti-discrimination policy which mention to racism and ethnic, including standards of behavior and consequences. Secondly, to create diverse workforce, hiring employees from all races and national origins should be considering. This way is not only decreasing the discrimination conflict but help better serve your customer and develop your company with their experiences and knowledge. In the same time, employees should be educated about what constitutes ethnic discrimination by training. Also, establishing fair promotions by evaluate employees based on their performances and values to company without considering race, nationality, or other irrelevant factors. Then, holding team building sessions to make employees learn more about each other and create a positive work environment. Finally, encouraging open communication and establishing reporting system to allow employees feel comfortable discuss and report about racism and ethnic discrimination without fear of retaliation.
Skin Color Discrimination in workplace.
There may be difficulties to differentiate Race and Skin color discrimination as it’s almost the same. We all know that people with the same race or the same country of origin may have different color skin, so Human Resource managers and any relevant HR person should be aware of this important thing, as it shows that although color and race perception may seem to be two sides of the same coin, they are ultimately different allegations. With the contextual understanding, we may perceive that Race and Skin Color may be overlapped in some sense, however, skin color discrimination in the workplace typically happens when employee is discriminated, harassed, against based on his or her lightness, darkness, or other color characteristic of his or her skin. Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has regarded the term “color” as a pigmentation, complexion, or skin shade or tone. This type of discrimination can happen to anyone in the workplace no matter he or she is discriminator or being discriminated by the same race or ethnicity. For instance, if we talked about African-
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American employee who has never been promoted by employer although he or she is experienced and better qualification than white people employee, this situation is considered as Race discrimination. But if there are two French employees (same races) but different skin tone; darker and lighter, and they have been treated unfairly with some reasons by employer, this can be a Skin Color discrimination despite both being of the same race. The discrimination, based on one’s race also includes one’s skin color, as well as texture of hair, or any other certain physical characteristic linked to one’s race, is illegal according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Although one’s skin is darker than one’s skin, it probably does not mean that the behavior of darker skinned people is worse than lighter one, but this perception still does exist. It is because of the negative attitude which has been imprinted. The prejudice or pre-judgement is also another cause which generate color skin discrimination. One ever thought, black skinned people would be low level workers, labor level. This thought had been conveyed from generation to generation, until the proof revealed that, even dark-skinned candidate, Mr. Barack Obama won the election twice and named as the Mr. President of United States of America. Of course, any discrimination always leads to negative consequence and so do this colorism problem. There will be a lot of stressful for the person who is colorism discriminated and thus, it will affect to workplace environment and job performance. The mental health issue is one of the major effects from skin color discrimination. According to data from the National Survey of Black Americans, (Thompson and Keith (2001) found that women with darker skin had lower self-esteem, especially if they had lower socioeconomic status. These findings suggest that darker skinned women is probably more vulnerable if they do not possess social psychological resources. Thus, these two major effects can be costly for employers as they must face employee turnover issue (for experienced and qualified employee) and become harder to recruit in-demand workers.
Solution to prevent and resolve are as following. Creating a safe and friendly workplace for all employee can be one of the methods to prevent colorism issues. Focus on the color diversity and be respectful to each one’s intellectual. In a mean time, provide them an inclusion training for employees and educate them to realize what constitute skin color discrimination. Employers may be addressing an anti-discrimination policy in workplace and conduct effective communication within the company.
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Educational Discrimination in workplace
One said, college degree is the must, while university degree is ideal. Apart from other series of discrimination in workplace, which are included age, race, gender skin and else, educational issue is one important aspect to describe as well as others because it also plays a significant role based on the survey result (in Thailand). Workplace educational discrimination usually take place when an employer requires the level of education which isn’t necessary for one’s job. Simply said, the academic background is not match, over-qualification in this sense, to the job’s requirement. This type of discrimination is one or another way for employers to discriminate against some of the same protected groups of workers, either intentionally or not. However, this type of discrimination is not illegal. No matter it happens in the process of hiring, recruiting or employing, it’s typically not illegal. Because this issue does not, within context, abuse against of any federal laws protecting workers from discrimination. However, there are some resources said, the educational discrimination is somehow in between legal and illegal in case if the educational requirements of the job obtaining the job difficult for those protected under other laws.
The practice is sometimes, employers might create the advertisement on job advertising as “new-graduates welcome” for job applying and this will prevent the “non-graduates” or the ones who graduated for years from applying this position. This can be the form of educational discrimination as well. Besides, the skill test or knowledge test which employers need must be necessary and job-relevant for candidate as well. Employers who value a high education may unwittingly discriminate the employee and causing in require a specific degree for some certain jobs, as we perceived this is not illegal issue. There was a case several years ago regarding educational discrimination. That is not to say every education or academic requirement matters to disqualify minorities of lower education background. The case was, in the hospital, the position where a certified nursing assistant, who has experienced but not a formal biology training knowledge, was denied to promoted in a position as a registered nurse because she might be expected to perform some complicated tasks – assisting in surgery operation, which was somehow hardly happen without concrete and solid educational background. Because that jeopardized for the institution’s reputation and image if something severely occurs.
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However, there is some negative consequence about educational discrimination. Some employee who has less education background, such as blue-collar workers, but has capabilities to perform some job. Employer disqualifies this group of employees and truthfully, they cannot be promoted in a higher position. Company will possibly lose this group of royal employees who might work for a longtime in the company and consist pile of valuable experience just because of less education background.
Disabilities Discrimination in workplace.
The disabilities discrimination does exist in the today’s workplace and it affects to mental concerns which can generate mental health discrimination problem afterward. This discrimination can be happened when employee who has physical problem disability are judged or treated unfairly by employer. A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially affects a major life activity – the activities of walking, seeing, also reading, bending or communicating. Besides, for biological disability sense, it means when the one’s body works mal-functionally including the problem of immune system, respiratory issues, brain concussion, reproductive and other functions. As usual, disabilities discrimination commonly relates to several employment activities such as recruitment, hiring, training job assignments, human resource development, leadership program, CSR, promotions, pay, benefits, lay-off, leave, firing, etc. There was some harassment (not sexual harassment) of employee just because of their disabilities as well. There are both direct and indirect disability discrimination. For the direct one, it emerges when employer makes the decision, for example, not to recruit someone, not to promote someone, not giving a well-training program to someone, or unpleasant giving benefits or welfare, all of this because of disabilities. The employee who is/are ordinarily physical and mental discriminated his/herself, this is an ordinary direct discrimination. Besides, there are direct discrimination by association – the disability of someone they are associated with, such as a friend, family member or colleague and direct discrimination by perception – means how others perceive whether they have disabilities. While an Indirect discrimination, this type is not obviously seen as the direct one, it can be happened unwittingly in some circumstance.
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The very negative effects of disabilities discrimination including a mental health issue, low morale, conflicts increasing, bad reputation for employer, lawsuit issue. When disabled employee has been seen undervalued, they will, of course, be discouraged and if this repeatedly happens from time to time, it will cause in mental issue and low morale in workplace. This negative effect will be surely creating poor job performance and low productivity. It can be also indirect effect like increasing of work-conflict in this uncomfortable circumstance. Besides, disabilities discrimination is unlawful act and one(s) who is(are) discriminated can make a discrimination claim or complaints. The more problem against the law, the worse company’s reputation will be publicly perceived.
The reasonable adjustment is one of the common protections against disability discrimination. The reasonable adjustment will minimize or remove the difficulties experienced of the disabled employee, having said that, employer will better treat the disable more favorably than others to reduce the disadvantages. However, some disability is not obviously seen, as I mentioned, it’s hidden and invincible – comes from biological disability like cancer, autism, and any mental health conditions. Some example of reasonable adjustment such as; Braille letter equipment for blind people, special chair for back problem employee, a special carpark for disable employee, etc. Reasonable adjustments can be considered upon a disabled employee requests, or the employer is aware of a substantial disadvantage due to disability.
There are also some other ways to reduce the rate of disability discrimination. In hiring process, employer should not ask the disabled candidates or job applicants regarding health or disability-related questions until a job offer has been made. Diversifying training program and reallocating duties for disabled employee, this will increase value of disabled employee. Avoiding making a negative assumption about the capabilities of them and educating other normal employee to understand the capability of disabled employee, this is to prevent from behaving in a discriminatory way, as well as providing company’s equality policies and procedures.
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Connections with supervisor and Higher-up Discrimination in workplace
Our last type of discrimination is connection with supervisor / higher-up discrimination in work place. This type of discrimination has rarely been seen in official sources but according to the primary survey in Thailand, it has shown the significant result among other kinds of discrimination.
When employee(s) has/have personal connection with supervisor in the company, this will affect to many things which could be privilege for such employee(s) including pays, salaries, wages, other benefits i.e. welfare or leave of absence, promotion, job allocation, job appraisal, etc. This can be happened with many circumstances and environments, with no matter what the gender is, no matter where the country of origin of that employee is, it is all about connection and power. It also comes from the social and cultural barriers as well as the seniority too. In some company, supervisors who graduated from one university or high school will probably give a favor to their subordinates who also graduated from the same academic background although the job performance of that one is not good enough or even not qualified. This can be, and always, happened in some Thai organization. Employee in some company – SME business, which have been being managed by family members- so called a family business, usually suffer from this kind of discrimination. Employers will unfairly undertake this kind of action and may cause impaired result of one’s job. This will result in individual mental health issues for the employee who think this is unfair and feeling discriminated. It will also increase conflict in workplace if ones think they are exceptional better in performance and job’s result than the one who is given a favor because of
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connection. High rate of employee turnover may be occurred right after the conflicts have not been properly resolved. It will be costly to the employer if there is a high turnover rate and bring about the bad reputation for the company.
However, any problems also have their own solution to prevent and solve. Employers need to make sure the position is clearly stated when it posted or announced, in a mean time, suitable job transferring request forms should be available for current employee. The description of that position should be also distinctly outlined for any requirement. Moreover, the operating procedures should be standardized although it is hardly seen in family business.
Primary Research result
In addition to the information of this paper which is written in prior section, here are the results from our research that we surveyed with the designated respondent (162 persons)
1. This pie charts show the number of employees in respondent’s company (size of the company) which most of them has less than 100 employees.
2. The second pie chart shows that most of the respondent thought there is a discrimination in their workplace
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3. This graph shows the percentage of each discrimination form in the workplace. We will see that the Connection with Supervisors discrimination considered to happen the most in Thailand.
4. This pie chart shows the job turnover effect of discrimination in workplace, and more than 50% of respondent have agreed with it.
5. The fifth pie chart shows that more than 90% of respondent have agreed that the discrimination will hurt others in the workplace and thus, will affect to mental health.
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6. The last pie chart shows 83 % of respondent think the discrimination or inequality in work place can be managed and eliminated if there is an effective policy in the company.