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Organizations globally are required to champion ethical behavior by integrating social, economic, and environmental concerns while conducting their business. Business ethics focus on how moral standards of everyday life apply to business organizations and behavior. Constant debates, including but not restricted to the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, have brought to light the long-standing ethical issues in the corporate world based on gender equality and its impact. Gender inequality is a type of sex discrimination which results when an employee is treated disadvantageously because of their gender. This practice is not only unethical but also immoral as it deprives women of a wage that is rightfully theirs, kills the motivation to work, and effects their personal relations such as sympathy, empathy and loyalty, interpersonal skills it. Furthermore, it impacts their families and results in poor corporate culture and overall productivity of the company and the world on the whole.
This essay would focus on the ethical concern of gender inequality, what causes it, the inequalities it perpetuates, and what steps can be taken to counter this. It must also be noted that while gender inequality is not something only women have to deal with but the focus of this essay is on women equality because they are more often targets and discrimination is more psychologically damaging for women than for men. The multiple forms of gender inequalities such as wage inequality, lack of women in leadership, the glass ceiling phenomenon, sexual harassment et cetera breach upon the fundamental issues of equality even today. Absence of gender equality in the workplace is an ethically significant issue which requires adequate solutions because it leads to unethical discrimination of women.
Even though women have, time and again, proved their mettle, they still are treated less favorably and systematically paid lesser than the male employees in similar position. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognized that the realization of equal pay is precedent to the achievement of justice in the world. Those who do equal jobs should be paid equally, given equal opportunities, and benefits and there shouldn’t be any more complication to it than that. Countless studies have pointed out to the fact that “gender inequality is embedded in the workplace”. Across the world, women are paid 82 cents to every dollar that a man earns”. As per Schieder & Gould, experimental evidence confirms that people in general still discriminated against women in the workplace, especially more if they were to venture into traditionally male dominated areas of work.
Women are acutely aware of the fact that the employers are likely to view their demands, albeit valid and well-deserved, vis a vis the demands of their male counterparts, under unfavorable light. Jennifer Lawrence, an Academy Award winner female actor, confessed she had to forego the salary she rightfully deserved despite having access, power and the platform to avoid being perceived as greedy and selfish by her studio and industry. First reason for this gender inequity is the underline assumptions that corrupt our reasoning. Conventionally, the white colored jobs were primarily held by men and so there have always been more male job applicants and consequently, the probability of them ruling the job market is way higher. They have mentors guiding them, vouching for them and creating spaces for them. Second, generalizations and stereotyping the basic human needs and discriminating with regards to the maternity leaves, family needs et cetera. Third, inadequate cultural change in organizations to promote genuine gender equality.
The solution to the issues lies in enabling organizational culture. Organizational culture is defined as the shared set of values, beliefs, language, practices and hidden assumptions that members of an organization have in common and that govern the way they think about and act on problems and opportunities. Companies need to have a robust framework of policies to counter any potential discrimination against women, including unconscious bias at all levels. The culture should encourage gender and social equality as a basic value of the organization.
Whilst there are undeniable testimonies of gender discriminations in negotiation and its results, the world of business is now changing into one of increasingly complex opportunities involving both genders coming together to form partnerships while moving away from transactional to relational dealings based on collaboration and cooperation. The workplace has sometimes been referred to as an inhospitable place for women. Major global corporations have become vocally supportive of pay parity. For instance, to close the pay gap, PriceWaterhouseCoopers launched a training course on negotiation and gender and made it available online to all 15,000 of its female employees. Starbucks made a swift shift towards equal pay and extended it globally. Nike has gone ahead and committed to level set salaries and, Google honored ‘equal pay for equal work’ for all its employees.
Having gender equality isn’t just an important issue for women; workplace gender equality is also directly related to the overall economic performance of corporations and in general, the whole country. Studies show that where there is greater workplace equality there is better national economic growth, Increased national productivity, stronger reputations for companies built upon fairness and equal rights, increased inflow of highly qualified candidates for jobs, better overall organizational performance in corporations.
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