Diversity is among the greatest strengths of any successful society. Employers in diverse society are in a position to acquire a pool of workers of all religions, races, abilities, nationalities, ages and both genders. Diversity offers organizations a wide range of view points, a broad base of talent, a deeper reach into a potential client and the best chance of benefiting from the increasing autonomy and the expanding global economy (Jackson & Carter 2007, p. 152). On the other hand, managing diversity can be a daunting task for managers. Diversity can at times result to harassment and discrimination.
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Discrimination is a way of treating an individual differently based on biological characteristics or affiliations to a certain group. Discrimination can take different forms including unequal treatment, different outcome or failure to accommodate. In an employment set up, the law prohibits discrimination when hiring, training, creating or making use of policies, promoting, laying off employees or any other means of employment. For any firm, human recruitment is an important and unavoidable process (Townley 1989, p. 92). As pointed out by Ackroyd & Crowdy (p. 3), managing a corporate culture in a manner which is appropriate to business strategy is crucial to a successful organization. Consequently, Effective recruitment requires a systematic, objective and a planned approach if the process is to be free and fair (Townley 1989, p. 92).
The laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion and sexual orientation maintain that it is unlawful to discriminate in the terms on which employment is offered, arrangements made for deciding who should be offered employment and deliberately refusing to offer the employment to a qualified candidate (Jackson & Carter 2007, p. 155). Usually, the term arrangements during recruitment incorporates all aspects of recruitment process including the design of the advertisements used, procedures used for short listing, interview arrangements, the questions set and asked during the interview and the final decision reached on who is to be appointed. In this case, short listing and selection should be purely based on the candidate’s relevant skills, experiences, knowledge, qualifications, talent and factual evidence. Whereas laws on employment discrimination are clearly stated in the employment laws, discrimination is a likely occurrence during the recruitment process. Regretfully, discrimination during the recruitment process does not always present itself in an open and obvious way. This essay however hopes to offer an argumentative stand on whether discrimination is a likely occurrence during the recruitment process.
As noted by Townley (1989, p. 97), ‘selection by definition involves a process of discrimination, and the opportunity for management to emphasize employee acceptability rather than suitability’. During human resource recruitment process, employees can experience discrimination at multiple levels in relation to sex, race, color, education, experience or sexual orientation. For an employee to win on the discrimination claims however, one must show that he or she was qualified for the job in question. This on the other hand is not likely to occur since the applicant rarely gets to know how the competitors faired in an interview, the skills they hold and the person who eventually gets the job. Nevertheless, this does not mean that discrimination is not likely to occur. As a matter of fact, discrimination during recruitment is today a likely occurrence that what was experienced in the previous decades.
Secondly, whereas discrimination is likely to occur, the claims can only be respected if the employee proves that he is a member of a protected class. Although this may appear as a rather obvious requirement to be met by all employees, it is not always so. For instance, an employee who may claim to have been discriminated on religious grounds must prove that the religious belief in question is for sure held. Whereas the claims of the discriminated person may not be trusted at times, discrimination may have truly occurred.
Discriminatory processes during human resource recruitment process are also likely to occur in the event of a selective placement of job advertisements. For instance, placing job advertisements and notices on publications which are only accessible to a certain group of people may lead to discrimination during the recruitment process. If notices are for instance put in places where only men frequent, potential female applicants are likely to be left out and vise versa. Job advertisements may also result to open discrimination if a new or foreign language is used to put up the advertisement. Only the few individuals who can understand the foreign language in this case are likely to apply for the position. This may be considered quite unfair especially if the language used is not likely to be used by the job holder.
Discrimination may also result from selective targeting of career information. Recruitment can at times be limited to private rather than state schools or a certain level of education. Some employers may also direct their career information specifically at schools which are solely occupied by one gender which may result to a high degree of discrimination. Some firms also maintain that one must have attended a certain kind of school to learn of career opportunities in that school. This type of recruitment produces a certain class and ethnic profile in a work place which is evidently discriminative.
Recruiting by word of mouth is another possible way through which discrimination can be observed during recruitment. As a matter of fact, word of mouth recruitment may be considered the most notorious way of replicating the characteristics existing in a particular organization. If a firm is dominated by men for instance, male employees are likely to inform their male friends about the existing vacancies hence leaving out suitable female applicants. This form of recruitment also creates a likelihood of a firm being dominated by family members since the current employees are likely to consider their family members first when job opportunities arise. In most cases, although word of mouth hiring may save on recruitment expenses, the quality of workforce is not enhanced. Requiring recommendation of an existing employee also narrows down the pool of potential applicants and yet does not guarantee that the person taken for the position is the right and the most qualified candidate.
In addition to employer policies and practices that operate to prevent outside members from applying for certain positions, it is also possible that the way in which jobs are presented and the company or the position’s traditional cultural associations may also discourage some people from applying for a certain position. Unfortunately, whereas some of the discriminatory problems can be solved through anti-discrimination legislation, this type of discrimination cannot be resolved using the set legislation. Nevertheless, affirmative programs may be enforced to discourage this type of discrimination.
At the selection stage, discrimination may further arise from differences in interview styles between various groups, dominant perceptions of the ideal candidate of the job, the nature of the applicant’s qualifications and culturally biased testing. During the interview, different people (men, women, and disabled) with similar job-related abilities may display notable differences in presentation and style which may result to discrimination. In most cases for instance, when put together with men, women are less likely to put themselves forward as successful and confident while belittling their own achievements (Booth, Leigh & Verganova 2010, p. 1). An interview panel composed of one gender is also likely to be more familiar with particular gender hence applying assessment criteria to all applicants in relation to their expected presentation styles.
Moreover, the interview panel that is not aware of the needs of some candidates such as the visually impaired and the hearing impaired may not give such candidates a fair chance to express their capabilities. They may in this case end up forming a conclusion that such individuals are slow learners and should therefore not be hired. Similarly, in firms where jobs have been traditionally associated with male incumbents or female incumbents, the interview panel may apply recruitment criteria involving masculinity or femininity may tend to be of disadvantage to the other group of people.
Recruitment on merit basis is also likely to lead to discrimination during recruitment process. As observed by Ho & Alcorso (2004, p. 237) for instance, migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds in Australia often occupy only low-paid and low-skill jobs. The academic field on the other hand remains blind on the social attributes including immigrant and ethnic status when offering education to ensure that such groups are equally equipped to compete effectively with other people. According to human capital theory, income is treated as a function of workers’ investment in marketable skills especially in the form of training (Ho & Alcorso 2004, p. 238). Most people in this case often make rational choices about investments in training and education that is likely to improve their levels of productivity while delivering suitable returns. In this case, immigrants are concentrated in inferior and low paying jobs probably because of their individual shortages of human capital and low productivity emanating from discrimination.
On the other hand, not all type of discrimination is illegal. Usually, differences in temperament, personality and taste can result to unwarranted friction in the work place. However, the law does not demand the employers to force the employees to like each other. It would not in this case be considered illegal if unfair treatment arises out of a personality dispute that is not largely based on membership in a protected class (Markus 2011, p. 13).
For instance, a manager who is generally mean to everyone and who is known to treat everyone badly may not be said to be discriminating.
In the same way, obvious biasness and favoritism like refusing to hire some individuals already working with a competitor on part time basis may not be considered illegal as long as the main reasons for not hiring them are not based on gender, race or any other protected status. Nevertheless, if the company does not accept the fact that discrimination during recruitment is likely to occur, it may end up encouraging an obnoxious behavior and unacceptable rationales for employment decisions. If such behavior is encouraged, it is likely to have a major effect in the operation of the organization and the morale among the employees.
Perceived discrimination affects commitment and job satisfaction among the employees. Studying employee perceptions of discrimination is very important for all managers and organizations at large. This is more so because perceptions have a great effect on the key areas of human resource management including compensation, recruitment, employee relations and organizational culture (O’Doherty 2007, p. 76). For instance, perceived similarity between applicants and recruiters are likely to affect the decision of hiring a candidate. In most cases, minority groups and women are often discriminated during recruitment process. Skewed perceptions can in this case affect hiring, level of compensation, promotion and performance appraisals.
Contemporary work places are also characterized by highly committed, high performing and individuals who are bound together by a common corporate mission which is enriched by a common culture (Noon & Blyton, p. 1). On the other hand, the role of the employer in skill under utilization of immigrant professionals may also have an impact on the theory and practice of human resource management in a wide range of labor markets consisting of immigrant employees. The role of an employer in the under utilization of skills may also affect productivity and skill maximization of the labor force (Almeida, Fernando & Sheridan 2012, p. 1952). Social cohesion and cultural diversity should therefore be enhanced to ensure that no discrimination is likely to occur during recruitment process (Markus 2011, p. 13).
As a matter of fact, an aspect that is likely to affect an organization’s relations with employees and culture is the management’s approach to manage diversity. When there is discrimination during the recruitment process, employees perceive the organization and its management in different ways. For instance, in most organizations, white men (often most favored) perceive the organization as inclusive and fair compared to white women and the minority groups. The favored groups also see less value in diversity training compared with discriminated groups (Jackson & Carter 2007 p. 147). Varying perceptions of discrimination among employees can in this case affect the extent to which the team members share common values and create an integrated culture. This discrimination can further affect the company’s procedures, policies and the daily operations.
Social identity theory asserts that individuals categorize others and themselves into distinct groups based on shared characteristics. Perceived discrimination is an individual’s view that he/she is being treated unfairly or differently because of group membership or characteristics. When people discover that they are being discriminated because of belonging to a certain group or carrying some characteristics, they are likely to feel angry and alienated which can result to negative related behaviors. Whereas social identity theory is important in defining perceived discrimination, managers should understand that an individual’s identification with a particular group does not occur in isolation. They should in this case make use of the concepts developed by embedded intergroup theory and intergroup theory.
Intergroup theory maintains that two types of groups exist in any organization (organizational groups and identity groups). An identity group may for instance include people with similar demographic characteristics such as gender, race or age. An organization’s group on the other hand may include employees who share similar hierarchical status, tasks or function. More often, people are ever trying to balance the competing expectations and demands based on the membership of their organizational or identity groups. Discrimination can in this case occur during recruitment process as a way of favoring an individual belonging to one group while discriminating against those belonging to the other groups. According to embedded and intergroup theory, it is advisable for organizational managers to consider the different organizational relationships, the organization itself and the impact the perceived discrimination can have on other employees and the organization at large.
If left unchecked, differences in perception of discrimination can further affect legislative decisions and end up having a negative impact on the financial performance of the organization. In this case, it is highly important for human resource professionals and organizations to re-consider discrimination in organizations since the differing perceptions can affect their behavior, attitudes and the financial performance of an organization.
In order to ensure that the recruitment process is free and fair, it is important for managers to look for ways in which discrimination can be avoided. This may be achieved through ensuring that the criteria being used for assessment are objective enough in order to ensure that no unintentional discrimination is likely to occur. In capitalism economic activity, material gains, and success become ends in themselves. It therefore becomes the fate of a man to contribute to the growth of the economic system as an end in itself and not necessarily for the purpose of his own happiness (Fromm 1960, p. 93). When human resource managers perceive their job as that of managing the culture, as observed by Ackroyd & Crowdy (p. 12), they are also caught up in a cultural trap.
As evidently shown by the literature review, discrimination during the recruitment process is likely to happen. More often, discrimination during the recruitment process may be attributed to the corporate culture and the values held by the recruiting managers and team. As a matter of fact, discrimination does not have to be a series of calculated decisions which are intended to cause some harm to a particular group of people. Discrimination during recruitment process just means treating people in the same attributes differently just because of a protected characteristic. In this event, discrimination during recruitment is a likely occurrence.
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