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Many analysts have examined the effectiveness equal opportunities laws and its associated aspects, encompassing disparity, unfairness, intolerance, multiplicity, and lack of opportunities expansively which has added to extensive intellectual growth to the field.
Nonetheless, the efficacy of enforcing the equal opportunities and affirmative action statute to business organizations is still contentious.
Consequently, this paper intends to analyze the linkage between the prerequisite for having equal opportunities for employees within organizations to the assumed accrued benefits. The study will thus scrutinize this correlation in terms of job performance and alleged financial returns to the employer and employees.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) defines workplace discrimination as any disentanglement, segregation or partiality that has the effect of invalidating or weakening impartiality in job openings, workplace behavior and career growth due to an individual’s uniqueness.
This may encompass ethnicity, color, sex, religious faith, political affiliation, country of origin, societal bias, disability, marriage, age, sexuality, and/or HIV status (2).
Despite registering much progress against occupational biases, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission admits that racial bias still represent the most cited job-related injustice, with 35.5 percent of the commission’s complaints in 2005 centered on race issues (U.S. Department of Labor, n.p.).
This confirms results from other studies that disclose racial and ethnic inequalities still evident even after the enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; with non-Caucasian job seekers still unlikely acquire top jobs hence relegated to menial or unskilled jobs due to their skin color (EEOC 2).
Consequently, studies on financial returns from such integrated recruitment regimes are problematic due to the scarcity of appropriate case studies.
Benefits of an Integrated Non-Discriminatory Employment Strategy
Most studies affirm the economic benefits of an integrated non-discriminatory employment strategy citing inherent advantages like innovation, better labor supply, improved work relations, higher productivity and avoiding penalties among others (Kandola and Fullerton 8), Harvey and Allard (2) and Gray (14).
Thus, Richardson (4) affirms that organizations hiring the most qualified staff without bias typically end up with the finest workforces and a high retention rate. Hence, as global rivalry in consumer markets intensify; corporations still upholding bigotry tendencies are bound to decline.
Therefore, Harvey et al. (393) stress that workplace diversity allows corporations to compete globally while enjoying uninhibited benefits accrued from multicultural ideas. This view is supported by Fine (502) who argues that a workforce not resolutely restricted to certain cultural categories as more likely to generate higher returns in terms of labor, ideas and loyalty.
Cynics of Benefits of the Equal Opportunity Concept
Forth and Rincon-Aznar (18) are however cynical regarding the efficacy of equal employment opportunities offering greater economic benefits to businesses.
The authors contend that most of the studies supporting the notion are just based on long-term market yields, which cannot be directly linked to the integrated workforce. Likewise, assumptions based on case studies only highlight a few successful large corporations whilst lacking corroborative industry-wide studies.
Perotin and Robinson (31) have also stressed that productivity within businesses tend to decline after cyclic equality reviews though yields are higher without distinguishing monitoring. However, organizations with formal printed directives on the statutes fared better as compared to those lacking official guidelines on equal opportunities.
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Dex, Smith and Walters (9) similarly found no collaborative indicators for financial growth by organizations that had enacted or practiced equal opportunities statutes. They also noted that monitoring activities tend to disrupt work schedules thus leading to slight declines in productivity levels.
Perotin and Robinson (18) however established positive correlations between employee loyalty and provisions of equal opportunity laws particularly amongst the male staff.
However, Burrows (2) examining the European angle argue that there is dichotomy between the statutes as propagated and actual practice asserting that discrimination is still quite widespread in workplaces despite the numerous regulations enacted.
Equal Pay for Equal Work Concept
While analyzing the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” concept, Burrows (2) established that conventional labor laws are generally outdated and thus unreliable in rendering parity to both the employer and employees. The existing statutes tend to favor executives rewarded for proficiency and performance while other workforce overlooked in reward schemes.
Similarly, contemporary employers are inclined to evaluate performance competence rather than hours logged or work done with quality the current guide. Consequently, Burrows argues that the bylaws be changed to reflect modern concepts of “equal pay for work of equal value” (5).
A study by Sumner and Silverman also established that equal opportunity rules though rarely practiced in workplaces, has “the potential to play a role as part of an effective program if a priority” (30). This could only be possible through devoted HRM programs, with appropriate recruitment schemes and accountability.
The authors however noted that despite these programs nowadays being acceptable, affirmative action is still politically contentious although awareness is increasing. Standing and Baume (9) affirm that despite the presence of numerous labor laws regarding discrimination, there remains widespread discrimination with issues of equal pay and opportunities still biased against women.
The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws make it unlawful for companies to discriminate against workers or job applicants. However, this study has revealed that prejudice though generally acknowledged as a vice, is still widely practiced. The significance of enforcing equal opportunities laws is still debatable but most reports indicate favorable financial benefits.
However, some analysts are skeptical regarding their efficacy since the rules have the possibility of creating reverse discrimination by giving undue advantages to minorities and gender groups in hiring overlooking merit. Overall, the equal opportunity laws are a valuable development in labor rules for all the stakeholders but should be modified to reflect modern workplace practices.
Burrows, Noreen. Equal Pay for Equal Work: The Impact of European Law Draft. Glasgow: University of Glasgow/EU, 2003. Print.
Dex, S., Smith, C. and Walters, S. “Effects of family-friendly policies on business performance.” Judge Institute of Management Studies Workplace Paper No. 22/2001. 2001. Print.
EEOC. Race and Color Discrimination. Number 915.003. Washington D.C.: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 2006. Print.
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Forth, John and Rincon-Aznar, Ana. Equal opportunities, employee attitudes and workplace performance: findings from WERS 1998. London: Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), 2008. Print.
Gray, H. Family-friendly working: what a performance! An analysis of the relationship between the availability of family-friendly policies and establishment performance. Discussion Paper. London: London School of Economics, 2003. Print.
Harvey, Carol P. Jersey, M. June Allard. Understanding and Managing Diversity. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2000. Print.
IFC. Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity. Good Practice Note No. 5. Washington, D.C.: International Finance Corporation (IFC), 2006. Print.
Kandola, R. and Fullerton, J. Diversity in Action: Managing the Mosaic. London: Institute of Personnel and Development. 1998. Print.
OFCCP. Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law. EEOC-P/E-1. Washington, D.C.: The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, 2009. Print.
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Richardson, Margaret A. Recruitment Strategies Managing/Effecting the Recruitment Process. Geneva: United Nations, 2005. Print.
Standing, Hilary and Baume, Elaine. Equity, Equal Opportunities, Gender and Organization Performance. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2001. Print.
Sumner, Michael D. and Silverman, Carol J. The path to equal opportunity: An investigation of best practices in employment and contracting. Berkeley: University of California – Berkeley, 2011. Print.
U.S. Department of Labor. Equal Employment Opportunity 2011. Department of Labor website. Web.