Sample Business Studies Argumentative Essay Paper on Gender Discrimination in the Work Place

Gender Discrimination in the Work Place

All over the world, gender discrimination in the labor market has been a pertinent issue over the years. Researchers have established that players in the labor market deliberately or subconsciously propagate discrimination due to various factors. Some of the grounds for discrimination include gender, race, physical attributes, religion, and education. For example, in many societies around the world, women’s rate of economic participation women has lagged behind that of men due to the perception of the latter as best suited for household activities. The problem of gender discrimination has permeated all sectors of the economy. Many companies, including prominent international brands, often discriminate on the basis of gender by hiring more men than women. A case in point is the Lehman Brothers. After the 2008/2009 financial crisis, critics argued that the organization would have made prudent financial plans if key decision makers had been women. The argument in the Lehman Brothers case was that women are more suitable in making financial decisions than men due to their risk aversion.

It is not morally justifiable to make appointments on the basis of gender or to allude that one gender is superior the other in terms of competence and other aspects of decision making. Traditionally, gender-based appointments have resulted in the feelings of antagonism on the part of the affected parties. In an organization where gender discrimination is practiced, people of different genders may define themselves in accordance with the type of treatment they receive during hiring activities and in the course of their duties. Additionally, gender discrimination results in the entrenchment of inequalities between men and women. Conversely gender equality becomes more achievable when men and women receive equal treatment from employers. From an ethical point of view, the character of the individual is more important than any other consideration during hiring. Therefore, employers should adopt the ethical theory of virtue ethics whenever considering hiring employees. Considering the key principles of ethical theory, virtue ethics is the most effective in handling gender discrimination in the workplace.

There are two primary premises that indicate that gender discrimination is not morally justifiable. First, it leads to propagation of inequality. The problem of inequality has permeated the world for many decades now, and any action by organizations to project gender-based sentiments will only result in more divisions between men and women. In the case of the Lehman brothers, it would be presumptive to suggest that adding women to the male dominated organization would result in a different outcome in terms of risk management. One should not assume that women are more risk averse than men because it would mean that the latter are not suitable to make any financial-related decisions. However, mixed gender environments result in more tolerance to risk by both men and women. Therefore, adding women to a male-dominated work environment will most likely result in the level of risk an organization can tolerate. Similarly, adding men to an all-female organization improves the level of risk tolerance.

The second premise is that organizations function effectively in environments with zero gender discrimination. Employees need to have the feeling that they are not being discriminated against on the basis of gender. Research studies have revealed that organizations that do not have gender discrimination are typically more productive than businesses that hire on the basis of gender. Nevertheless, the case of Lehman Brothers is a unique one because of the widespread opinion that certain gender is better in financial environments than others. In fact, various scholars adduced masculinity as the variable that may have been instrumental in causing the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Other scholars speculated about the more prudent investment styles of women, thus predicting the fall of male-dominated organizations. Such perceptions amount to the wrong perceptions that women are financially responsible while men are reckless.   

The virtue ethics theory results in the most satisfactory moral answer to the issue of gender discrimination in the workplace. In any society, gender equality is a key moral principle that organizations should be keen to adopt. The issue of equality is an important ethical aspect that requires investigation to find lasting solutions. In most cases, the issue of gender discrimination has a direct association with human values. Thus, it is important for organizations to ensure that they adopt a socially constructed process for developing organizational values. According to DuBois and Smith (2007), modern organizations are focused on promoting the rights of women. The author further argues that women should mainly focus on building working relations with the men, rather than seek to challenge male dominance in the workplace.

Under the virtue ethics theory, the role of character traits is more important than gender. In other words, virtue ethics theory shifts the emphasis from the established social perceptions and rules to the proper character traits of employees. According to Louden (2013), organizations can use the virtue ethics theory to defend their decisions and actions with regards to hiring practices. Organizations can apply the theory of virtue ethics to justify their actions, whether right or wrong. For example, an organization with a high prevalence of males in the workplace can argue that the main consideration during the recruitment process is not gender, but moral character of the employees. Thus, it was a coincidence that Lehman Brothers had more men than women. Therefore, the risky decisions were merely coincidental, rather than a direct effect of having a larger number of males in the organization.

When organizations adopt the virtue ethic theory, they can escape the accusation that they are discriminatory. Over the years, women have had equal opportunities as men in terms of education opportunities and career progression. Therefore, it would be counterproductive to favor one gender during recruitment, yet both have equal opportunities of gaining employment. The fact that Lehman Brothers had more men than women in top level management positions mean that they were qualified to be there in the first place and not because of any discrimination against women.

The actions of Lehman Brothers in hiring more men in top management can be used as a justification for the argument that the company was discriminative. However, organizations such as the Lehman Brothers can use the concept of utilitarianism as an ethical theory to determine and justify the rightness or wrongness of their acts. In other words, proponents of utilitarianism focus on the usefulness of the organization’s actions and not any other moral consideration (Donchin, 2010). In the case of gender discrimination, the utilitarianism theorists place more emphasis on gender relations, thus leading to the improvement of the overall workplace environment. Second, gender discrimination results in evil consequences because of the limited rights of women. As a result, organizations have an obligation to uphold gender equality during recruitment. Third, utilitarianism results in more women participation in organizational matters, unlike virtue ethics in which unqualified females have limited or no involvement. However, the virtue ethics moral theory is superior to utilitarianism theory because it results in genuine effort and motivation by individuals (Richard, 2017).

Gender discrimination is a problem that organizations need to contend with. The case of Lehman Brothers is a good example in which critics can perceive gender structures within organizations as the cause of problems. From a moral point of view, organizations may not be obligated to arbitrarily employ individuals on the basis of gender. Based on virtue ethics moral theory, employers only need to hire individuals on the basis of qualifications and character. However, research studies have indicated that other moral theories such as utilitarianism have benefits such as increased participation by women in the workplace as well as greater representation.

Gender structures and social cultures have led to the establishments of gender stereotypes, which are the basis of almost all gender discriminations. With gender sensitive structures and processes, some may object to the phenomenon of promoting gender equality based on gender roles and identities. Gendered roles have been in existence from time immemorial and in spite of the changes in the fabric of the society, these roles had established stereotypes, which cannot be easily dissipated. The idea that women are more suitable for specific roles in the society than men informs gender discrimination even in the work place. Saewyc (2017) opined that most societies even in the contemporary times are profoundly gendered and that the gender roles and expectations contribute significantly to all aspects of life. This engendered thought process implies that from infancy onwards, actions of people and their decision making processes are discriminative based on their expectations and the stereotypes they find in place. With this kind of perception, it would be easy to argue that gender discrimination does not come as a matter of personal or general organizational choice, but rather because such discrimination is intrinsic in each individual by virtue of the traditions and stereotypes by which they live.

In the present day, support for gender discrimination may not be outright. However, finding reasons and justifications for discriminative practices is pragmatic in different ways. Gender enthusiasts argue that from infancy, scholarly research and social settings encourage gender identity trainings and gendered social roles (Alesina, Giuliano & Nunn, 2013). Practices that associate people with their genders are encouraged through to early adolescence. In late adolescence, gender role developments are not addressed by the social constructs or even literature. Since most people grow up without practically capturing detailed processes entailed in gender roles and stereotypes, the behaviors reflected in adult hood are part of the leanings adopted in infancy and early adolescence (Perry & Pauletti, 2011). Such arguments exempt organizational managements from gender discrimination liability since their practices are well within the social expectations.

Considering that objections to gender equality may base their arguments on the intrinsic nature and social dependence of gender roles and stereotypes, this cannot be considered sufficient basis for work place gender discrimination. The corporate environment has changed significantly over the years. In the contemporary society, more women are participating actively in the corporate environment, taking up roles that were initially reserved for men in the technical fields and other sectors (Eisenchlas, 2013). Women in such fields are also performing better than some of the men with whom they work. Furthermore, various studies have been conducted on gender mainstreaming and promoting gender equity in the work place (Eisenchlas, 2013). Organizational managers, who are expected to be wary of the happenings in the corporate world, changes in social functions and advocacies for gender equity, cannot use gender roles and stereotypes as justifications for gender discrimination.

The concept of gender equality in the work place should not be a subject of constant argument. Multinational corporations in particular, ought to understand the roles of social transformation in gender streamlining and promotion of gender equality. Traditions and social roles should not be a subject of deviation from the corporate expectations of current time.

References

Alesina, A., Giuliano, P. & Nunn, N. (2013). On the origin of gender roles: Women and the plough. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128, (2): 469-530. Retrieved from scholar.harvard.edu/alesina/publications/origin-gender-roles-women-and-plough

Donchin, A. (2010). Reproductive tourism and the quest for global gender justice. Bioethics, 24(7), 323-332.

DuBois, E. C., & Smith, R. C. (Eds.). (2007). Elizabeth Cady Stanton, feminist as thinker: A reader in documents and essays. NYU Press.

Eisenchlas, A.A. (2013). Gender roles and expectations: Any changes online? Sage Open. Retrieved from journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2158244013506446

Louden, R. (2013). Meaningful but Immoral Lives. On Meaning in Life. Berlin: de Gruyter, 23-43.

Perry, D.G. & Pauletti, R.E. (2011). Gender and adolescent development. Journal of Research in Adolescence,  21, (1): 61–74. Retrieved from

Richard, J. A. (2017). Equality and equal opportunity for welfare. In Theories of Justice (pp. 75-91). Routledge.

Saewyc, E. (2017). A global perspective on gender roles and identity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 61(4), S1- S4. Retrieved from www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(17)30356-7/fulltext