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Women on the U.S. soccer team have been requesting fair pay for quite some time, but it was not until a few dared to stand out that a change has been put in the works, according to Andrew Das of the New York Times (2016). Women soccer players are experiencing quite a gap in pay compared to their male counterparts. Despite this pay gap, the women’s U.S. soccer team brought in more revenue in 2016 than that of their male counterparts. Although media spins this as an anomaly, the projected revenue for 2017 supersedes that of the U.S. men’s soccer team. Women are requesting equal pay for equal work, but what does “equal” mean for the soccer world? The men’s soccer team argues that they have to work harder to qualify than the women’s team. To qualify for the World Cup, the U.S. men’s team has to play through a two-year tournament throughout Central America, South America, and Europe. The women’s team plays a five game tournament spanning two weeks. There are some potentials issues that arise with this debate.
There are psychological issues at stake with this issue of pay disparity. Just the question of whether this is fair or not has moral implications for society. Are we telling our young girls that no matter how well you perform, you will never be as good as your male counterparts? The pay gap disparity exists even in the realm of sports and has serious implications for those gender roles we are reinforcing. However, society should avoiding rewarding mediocrity. Statistically speaking, it is a harder path to victory for the U.S. men’s team, who is competing in a set of tournaments that last two years for qualification rather than just a two week tournament. The courts have thus far ruled in favor of the women, but deciding the level of compensation has been difficult because of the difference in qualifications for tournaments, revenue, and tournaments played. Should their compensation be based on revenue or performance? Even though a formal decision has not been reached, it would seem that reevaluating the pay of women is in the works, but it may not be as much as their male counterparts.
The U.S. bank, Wells Fargo, was fined $185 million for opening illegal accounts in an attempt to push sales, according to BBC News (2016). Bank workers were illegally signing up customers for more than two million accounts or credit cards. Items such as debit cards were issued without the customer’s knowledge or consent. The bank workers involved went as far as creating fake email addresses to unknowingly sign up consumers for online banking services. After this was uncovered, Wells Fargo was fined the equivalent of $185 million as a slap on the hand for dishonest business practices. The company, on a corporate level, was not asking their employees to be dishonest, and the managers and team managers involved in the illegal activity have been fired. An outside third party will be investigating the company for further illegal activity, as well as to make sure the company is implementing procedures to protect against further illegal activities. There are some serious implications for Wells Fargo and society.
Some of the questions on everyone’s mind is what else is Wells Fargo doing? Is my bank doing the same thing to me? With business dishonesty appearing in the headlines, it causes people to fear and closely scrutinize every company they do business with. Dishonesty fosters mistrust, which can cause people to withdraw money from one bank and move it to another, creating an American company to flounder or possible fall. This causes a loss of jobs and a hit to the economy. It is speculated by Wells Fargo and others that a constant focus on sales numbers pushed managers, team managers, and employees to engage in illegal activities in an attempt to garner bonuses, recognition, promotions, and to simply meet quotas. The company stated that they are revisiting their values with their company to make sure everyone understands what they stand for and that these types of practices will not be tolerated. Putting unreachable or high quotas on people can cause desperation, which then leads people to seek desperate solutions such as this. Society needs to be careful not to implement impossible goals for people who will then do anything to survive.
Under the 2009 federal stimulus bill, states waived work as a requirement for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, participation—up to three months of unemployment were then permitted while using food stamps. As of 2016, there has been an unprecedented decline in food stamp users, according to Bob Bryan of Business Insider (2016). The waivers are expiring, not being extended, or being opted out of by state governors. New work rules have been implemented in 22 states in 2016, along with 15 states that previously reinstated work as a requirement for the SNAP benefits. The rationale for state policy change is that the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped below five percent.
The psychological implication that Bryan portrays is the suddenness of policy change and its subsequent impact on families coming off of food stamps, as well as companies with significant SNAP sales (Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Walmart). The question is this: will unemployed individuals be able to adapt and acquire the resources to find jobs, especially if they had previously planned on qualifying for food stamps?
The concluding thought and overall tone of the article leaned toward empathizing with those who could be negatively impacted. The number of people on food stamps now, over 43 million, is still twice as large as when unemployment was last at five percent (below 28 million people on food stamps in 2007). Bryan exaggerated the decline by omitting this information and misrepresenting the graph (the y-axis starts at 43.0 million instead of 0.0)—these are red flags of a false narrative.
SNAP is intended to provide help to low-wage, unemployed individuals and it is ultimately the job of other programs and entities to assist the unemployed. Ten million private sector jobs have been created in the last four years, and these policy changes will motivate recipients coming off of food stamps to seek and fill these jobs. Instilling this motivation is a key implication from a societal and psychological perspective. Thus, SNAP policy changes signify, in this situation, a government working as it should: being generous in economically difficult times, and then becoming more cautious when the economy improve. With more jobs and a continually dropping unemployment rate, the decision by states to end the waiver creates a better balance between motivating participants, systematic fairness with the return to a normalized unemployment rate, and government spending.
Samsung and the recently released Note 7—a cross between a phone and tablet—are facing a major dilemma with exploding batteries, according to J.D. Biersdorfer of the New York Times (2016). This device was expected to stand up to the iPhone 7, which was released September 16, 2016. Samsung initially ceased sales and created an exchange program for customers who already bought the device to return it and receive a replacement over the coming weeks. A week later, Samsung released a statement asking all users to turn off their devices and exchange them as soon as possible. Although necessary, the tone of this message was anxiety-inducing for anyone with a Samsung device.
To make matters worse, the Federal Aviation Administration began advising passengers to turn off and not charge the Note 7 at any time while aboard an aircraft. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released a similar message to their riders. Subsequently, on September 15th, Samsung officially recalled Note 7 phones sold prior to that day, deciding that the exchange program alone was an insufficient bandage. As of that date, Samsung had received 92 U.S. customer reports of batteries overheating, 26 reports of burn injuries, and 55 reports of property damage. With the help of bad press, Samsung’s bridges are burning along with their batteries.
The psychological issue at stake for the company is trust, both internally and externally. The company is undoubtedly in a relentless search for ways to reassure their employees of the company’s future. Even more concerning is that the severity of this incident will not be soon forgotten by consumers who now associate exploding batteries with Samsung phones.
Samsung must find a way to shape and form the circulating opinions on the issue with factual, believable evidence. Samsung U.K. began doing so by releasing a statement that placed blame on a rare manufacturing process error. The effort to remove human error from the list of suspects should help lessen the severity of the media’s indictments. Also, a thorough and transparent investigation of the error, followed by a public release of the findings and an implementation new preventative policies, can help ensure Samsung employees and users that such an incident will not occur again. These will be the first steps to regaining trust across the board.
Ivana Kottasova of CNN analyzed a study that looks at the gender pay gap observed in Australian and American workplaces (2016). The article suggests that, on average, women in the United States continue to make 78 cents to the dollar less than their male counterparts. Using these numbers, it will take 118 years to close the gender pay gap in America. The Australian study examined data about when employees ask for raises. The numbers suggest that when requested, men are 25 percent more likely receive a raise than women. The difference does not arise from men simply being more ambitious and requesting raises more often. Women ask, but do not receive pay raises or promotions as frequently as men. The article debunks the myth that women are hesitant to cause conflict or less motivated and, as a result, do not ask for a pay raise.
The information in this article may have several psychological ramifications on the workplace environment. It could lead to a diminished sense of objectivity and fairness in the workplace. The issues identified may create a hostile work environment, especially between male and female coworkers. Furthermore, the information has the potential to ruin the element of trust, which is essential for a fluid boss-employee relationship. Also, female employees may be less motivated to work hard. Ultimately, employee engagement could decrease on the basis that women may not feel they bring value to the company. However, the article downplays the impact this information could have on the workplace. The gender gap reaches deeper than just politics and social environment. The psychological ramifications could create serious disunity within a company, which ultimately affects every aspect of company efficiency.
Earlier this year, Brock Turner, a Stanford student, sexually assaulted an unconscious woman while at a party. The prosecutor argued for six years in prison, the jury found him guilty, and the judge sentenced him to prison for a mere six months. Emanuella Grinberg and Catherine E. Shoichet of CNN cite that Turner was released from jail for good behavior after serving just three months (2016). Furthermore, the article reviews the letter the victim wrote during the trial. A portion of the article discusses the psychological damage that the victim has endured as a result of the sexual assault and the trial process.
The issue identified in this article has many psychological effects on an individual’s perspective on the justice system. Firstly, there is a high possibility that it could lead to a sense of mistrust within the justice system. After a case such as Brock Turner’s, victims may not feel comfortable reporting crimes to authorities. The case, as reported in the article, discredits the psychological damage caused by crimes, especially those involving sexual assault. Ultimately, Brock Turner’s case appears to shift blame onto the victim rather than Brock Turner, who willingly committed the crime. The article does adequately address the psychological effects that victims face. However, it does not explicitly comment on the effects these types of cases have on the justice system and the government, which is where the effects will likely have the most apparent repercussions.
Following Tesla’s pioneering of the self-driving car, many companies are jumping in on the action, which may bring about unforeseen ramifications on a specific industry, according to Wolf Richter of Business Insider (2016). Although Tesla’s self-driving car experienced its first casualty recently with a long-haul truck swerving into one of their vehicles, it hasn’t quite quenched the thirst of consumers who want more of these cars, nor extinguished the fire of imagination that potential producers have concerning the technology’s future. There have been talks of producing self-driving cars for services like taxi driving or delivering goods, which could be a disaster for those working within the industry. These types of cars will be more reliable and available for those in need of their services, as they won’t need vacation time nor sick days in contrast to their human counterparts. This would also cut costs tremendously, which is almost always desirable for a company, as they would make a larger profit and apply that excess elsewhere for the bettering of the company. Once they’ve mastered the software, vehicle manufacturers are hoping these cars will be able to perform the jobs of long-haul drivers, taxi/Uber drivers, and more.
If this were to occur, this would lead to the loss of over four million jobs, which could cripple the economy significantly if these recently out-of-work individuals don’t recover quickly. This will likely have a debilitating psychological effect on these now unemployed individuals, as their means of income has been completely erased. They must recover quickly if they hope to support themselves, let alone others who are depending on their income. Technology is continuously putting unskilled employees out of work, which could have enormous implications on the future of our workforce, as well as the national economy.
On a similar note, Tesla Motors Inc. has recently proposed a merger with SolarCity Corp., according to Cassandra Sweet of the Wall Street Journal (2016). SolarCity, a company that leases out solar panels to homeowners, is inclined to agree to this proposal, as their revenues have continued to decrease since their stock went public in 2012. In a desperate effort to survive until the deal closes with Tesla, they have changed their business model and began cutting costs and selling these solar panels for cash instead of leasing them to homeowners.
Preventing this proposed merger from closing, however, is shareholder lawsuits. Two individual pension funds filed these lawsuits a couple weeks ago, claiming that those on the Tesla board “breached their fiduciary duties in connection to the proposed merger” (Sweet, 2016). Breaking fiduciary duties implies a breach of trust among the Tesla board, which poses a large psychological issue. If there is a lack of trust within a company, especially the higher ranking individuals and decision-makers, it could have a devastating effect. Not only will fellow employees lose trust in their leadership, but company investors will question their decision to support Tesla Motors.
The article concluded in stating that even if the merger does not follow through because of the lawsuit, SolarCity will be forced to explore other options that may salvage the declining company. Although the article mentioned that there was a breach of trust among the Tesla board, it did not state explicitly what the board did or did not do in order to be targeted by shareholders. As a result, it downplays the severity of a breach of fiduciary duties, sending the message that companies as large as Tesla cannot be severely punished for wrongdoings. This has negative psychological and societal implications as it communicates to the world the idea that money can get you out of any sticky situation.
Thousands of General Motors Co. employees will strike in Canada is the deadline for a new contract is missed, according to Mike Colias of the Wall Street Journal (2016). This threat of strike stems from the fact that the unions four-year contract with auto makers in Detroit expires on the evening of September 19, 2016. Though this production area in Canada only represents a fraction of all GM output, it could have a significant effect on the company’s standing in America. The goal of the union is to “secure commitments for future production at the two Canadian plants” (2016). Though progress has been made for this new contract, the union is not completely satisfied yet.
The article alludes to the fact that GM is considering not renewing this contract since their presence is so small anyway, and instead will make up for lost time by producing more engines and transmissions in American factories. However, some American employees have expressed their disagreement of this approach. If the strike does occur, it would cost GM approximately 2,000 vehicles a day from the Oshawa plant in Canada.
This strike would have many societal implications, the most apparent being that the employees would be without jobs, and therefore would not be able to support their dependents. This could potentially have negative effects on GM stock as well, which would result in a monetary loss for investors and shareholders. The psychological implications this issue presents is the apparent image that GM does not care about their manufacturing plants in Canada. This sends the message that GM employees are easily replaceable, as are entire plants. Ultimately, this could cause these employees to lose trust in the company leaders, which would reflect very negatively on the GM company.
Kmart will be closing 14% of its stores this year, equating to 64 locations, according to Suzanne Kapner of the Wall Street Journal (2016). Sears Holdings has closed over 400 Kmart stores and supercenters, a third of the chain’s locations. The company is closing these locations with the hopes of shrinking their cumulative operating losses of $1.06 billion over the past three years. Despite their efforts, sales are still declining in remaining Kmart and Sears locations. Uncharacteristically, though, the company invested money to remodel and reopen a Kmart location in Chicago.
The article concludes with a summary of the company’s expected operating cash flow this year, which is estimated to be negative $1.5 billion. This implies that the company is far from recovering from a loss this great, and that the location closures will continue to increase in coming years.
One aspect that this article inappropriately downplayed was the effect these closures will have on Kmart and Sears employees; not once did it mention how many people will be laid off as a result of these closures. This effect could have tremendous societal and psychological impacts. Employees will no longer be able to provide for themselves or their dependents. Additionally, those who are still working at open Kmart and Sears locations are burdened with the stress of knowing that their job is in jeopardy, and that they can be laid off any day. These are issues that the company should take into consideration in order to show that they truly care about their employees, despite their downhill net losses. One way the company could do this is by simply creating a program to help laid off employees find other jobs in their communities.
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