Leadership and the Diversity Challenge
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Should organisations embrace different leadership styles of individuals from background and could this be the missing link to unlocking their full potential?
This major paper will examine if there are any common threads in the leadership style, traits or the development of leaders from different gender or ethnic backgrounds. The purpose is to see if there are differences in the leadership styles of individuals from such diverse backgrounds, and could this be a partial explanation as to the paucity of leaders from such groups, when compared to the conventional white heterosexual male leaders found in organisations today.
In North America during the 1950s and 1960s the diversity debate concentrated on the civil rights of employees from different gender and ethnic backgrounds in the work place, this culminated in the USA with the introduction in 1964 Civil Rights Act and the establishment of the Employment Opportunity Commission. However in the 1970s the focus shifted towards affirmative action and equal employment opportunities for those from diverse backgrounds, with many organisations adopting polices to raise the talent pool from those of different ethnic backgrounds and genders. In the 1980s there was then a backlash against affirmative action and diversity debate became a bottom line or competitive concern for organisations. The diversity debate has grown in importance within many organisations for various reasons, not least of which is the increased competitive pressure to attract and retrain top talent. Additionally there is also a need for organisations to develop new innovative products and services in an increasingly global market place. These combined pressures have resulted in many organisations seeking to develop both diverse work forces and leaders to meet these challenges. In the literature there is strong evidence to support to suggestion that there are long-term positive effects to an organisation in adopting a positive approach to diversity issues. This paper will examine the broader diversity issues and the benefits to organisations, but will specifically focus on the issue of leadership styles, traits and the development of leaders from different backgrounds. The paper will examine the phenomenon of the glass ceiling, or as in some cases the concrete ceiling, which is often described by aspiring executives from different gender and ethnic origins.
In my opinion when considering diversity issues in organisations one aspect that is often inadequately considered is the concept of leadership style, traits and the development of future leaders from different ethnic and gender backgrounds within organizations. This needs to be considered in the placed in the context of what is often considered to be a successful style of leadership, namely the white, heterosexual macho male style of leadership, which dominates many organisations. This paper will attempt to explore the link between gender and ethnic origin and the style of leadership, and will examine if there are factors, which could provide an important connection that organisations, need to focus upon in their search to become more effective. Hopefully by examining, recognising and embracing any differences in the leadership styles, organisations can identify the critical factors that need to be considered to create a better-balanced leadership profile. Maybe it is through a deeper understanding of the various styles of leadership that organizations can achieve the desired objectives of increased diversity, creativity, innovation and enhanced performance. In transcending the diversity debate to focus upon the differences in leadership style, it may be possible to examine the traits that organisations need to develop in their leaders to broaden their talent pool and achieve their diversity objectives. The resultant effect will be to encourage organisations to re-examine a number of aspects of their evaluation process and may create a framework to allow new leaders from different backgrounds to emerge, allowing them to break through the glass ceiling that exists in many organisations.
I will conclude my major paper by focusing on major themes highlighting the key academic learning points. I will provide advice on the future implications for the diversity challenge within organisations and highlight further avenues of research. I will finish by providing a personal reflection on my major paper and its content.
The paper has five major sections and in the next section I will provide a summary of each chapter, which supports the structure of my paper.
Objectives and Structure
In the following section I will emphasise the objectives and structure of the paper, including a diagram, which shows the relationship between the chapters.
The paper will focus on why it is important for organisations to accept, understand and take advantage of different leadership styles, which maybe found in individuals from different ethnic and gender backgrounds. To challenge the traditional white male heterosexual heroic style of leadership, which many organisations continue to accept, encourage and develop. It is only by challenging these leadership concepts will organisations achieve their often-stated diversity objectives and create truly successful and innovative organisations.
Compared to the traditional white heterosexual male leadership found in most organizations, there is clearly a noticeable lack of leaders coming from diverse gender and ethnic backgrounds. This paper will examine the connection between the ethnic origin and gender of leaders and the scarcity in the workplace. The aim is to explore if there are common aspects preventing greater diversity of leadership in organisations. In building a more balanced senior leadership team it will be critical for organisations to recognise that individuals have different backgrounds, cultures, styles of leadership, levels of creativity and approaches to problem solving. By clearly understanding that leaders will see the same issues through different lenses then organisations will capture the full potential of their leaders and also their workforce. It is however important to recognise that organisations need adaptive styles of leadership to deal with various contexts and also that certain styles of leadership may be required in certain the circumstances. However if organisations only make use of the typical leadership styles found in the traditional white male leader, then it will be increasingly unlikely that they will be able to operate and in the global context in which many organisations now operate.
The focus of the paper will be on common patterns of leadership style, traits and the development of leaders from different ethnic and gender backgrounds. The aim will be to determine if these common factors could provide a clue, as to why there has been limited success within organizations of individuals from different gender or ethnic backgrounds in obtaining senior positions. In additionally these common features may also exist in many white male employees who are currently overlooked for leadership roles. If there is a common link between gender and ethnic leadership styles, then it may be possible to enhance and develop diverse leaders within organisations, allowing those from different backgrounds to break through the glass ceiling. This would be beneficial both to the individuals and the organisation, but also to the wider social cohesion of society.
To aid the discussion in the introduction chapter we will first examine some of the more traditional aspects contained in the literature as it relates various gender and ethnic backgrounds in the realm of leadership and management, particularly Hispanic, Afro American and Asian leadership styles, examining the diversity issues commonly found in these groups, looking at both the positive and the negative aspects of each ethnic classes traditions and values as applied in the workplace and the role of leadership. This discussion will focus on the varying leadership styles employed by and unique to each of the ethnic classes, as well as qualities and how they developed into leaders. The introduction will also touch on the concepts of “glass ceiling” and “concrete ceiling”, reflecting on the roles of women in the arena of leadership within organisations. However this particular aspect will be coved in more depth in later chapters in the paper.
1.2 Structure of my major paper
Below I will provide a top-level summary of each of my five chapters. This will afford the reader both information and an understanding of the outline combined with the content of each chapter. Figure 1.1 on the following page shows the relationship between the chapters and highlights specifically the links between each of the chapters.
Figure 1.1 relationship and links between chapters
Chapter Two - Introduction
In chapter two I will provide an introduction to my major paper and a brief outline of the diversity challenge that faces many organisations. We will examine the historical context, the social and economic perspective and why these issues are of critical importance to both to individuals and organisations. This will set the context as to why diversity issues are often discussed within many organisations. It will also set the stage to explore why a deeper understanding of the issues involved with the diversity of leaders in organisations and why the need to build a balanced leadership team is important part of the debate on diversity which organisations need to consider.
Chapter Three - Literature Review
In chapter three I will focus on the literature review of the major issues discussed in the academic literature on the areas of focus for this paper. The first part of the review will discuss how the context in which organisations have developed policies and practices to enhance the development of individuals of different ethnic and gender backgrounds, placing this in a historical context of changing competitive landscapes for organisations and the political background to addressing the issues of diversity.
The second part of the review will focus upon the academic literature concerning the evidence of the benefits for organisations in pursuing a diversity strategy for their work force and leadership team.
The third part of the review will focus upon the academic literature on the current thinking as it relates to models of leadership styles and traits and development of leaders found in organisations.
The fourth part of the review will focus upon the academic literature as it relates to the leadership styles, traits and development of women leaders in organisations. Examining the glass or in some cases the concrete ceiling as it relates to women and also individuals from non-white ethnic backgrounds leaders in organisations.
Chapter four – Towards a unifying model
Chapter five- - Conclusion
The final chapter draws a conclusion based on the key themes and highlights the key academic learning points from my major paper. I will provide advice for future implications of policies that originations may wish to pursue in meeting the diversity challenge and will discuss the limitations of my research and highlight areas that were potential challenges. I will articulate areas of research that I would explore further if I were to continue this study and lastly, in keeping with the spirit of the IMPM, I will provide a personal reflection on my major paper and its content.
The focus of the major paper will be to explore if there are common threads to the diversity debate as it relates to leadership styles and see if there are sufficient commonalities so that we can bring these together under a unified model which helps us better understand the challenges faced by individuals from different ethnic and gender backgrounds in the work place as they strive to develop their full potential. This will I hope deepen our understanding and may also lead to certain practices and learning’s, which could help organisations, develop their talent pool in a more effective manner in the future.
Leadership is one of the most important and elusive concepts to understand in management thinking today. While it is extremely difficult to pinpoint a specific definition of leadership, there does however appear to be researchers have identified certain characteristics. But why should organisations be concerned about leadership? One of the principle reasons cited is the importance of leadership in the success of an organization, it has been said that leaders are created by the needs of people relative to particular social conditions (Kershaw, 2001).
Kershaw goes on to illustrate this point:
As conditions change certain individuals are thrust into leadership roles. When physical strength is highly valued then the leaders will be perceived as, and at times must prove that they are, the strongest. When closeness to God is seen as major criteria for leadership, the successful leaders will be perceived as being closer to God than the masses (i.e. feudal monarchs and clergy during the European middle ages). (2001)
However in the current age of globalization, an additional consideration that organizations need to consider is the widening need for diversity in their leadership. This will enable organizations to cope with the twin aspect of an ever-changing standards demanded by the global market place and consumers from an assorted variety of ethnic groups and because organisations, are also beginning to recognize the importance of having a widely diverse workforce and leadership teams to deal with the increased pressures they face today in the global market place for talent.
According to Combs, finding ways to maximize benefits of an increasingly diverse workforce and client base is a continuing concern for organizational leadership (2002). While policies promoting diversity are an integral part of many organisations today, they are still not enough to effectively guarantee positive results in the existing organizational environments. This is especially pertinent as it relates to senior management within many organist ions. Diversity training is used to bring about behavioural change in organizations, however the model often made use of is the traditional white male role model in both the development of their leaders and also their workforce. Many organisations have failed to make use of their diversity training to bring about a new focus in order to improve the ethnic and gender mix and this is especially acute as it relates to the senior leadership teams.
This paper will focus on the type of leadership conduct, philosophy, and set of values that are required for an organization, that is set in a global community, to cope against the rigors presented by an ever-changing set of standards presented by the demands of globalization. In this introductory section we will give a brief overview and attempt to address the issue by discussing and applying one of the numerous leadership approaches popularized in the literature (e.g., Charismatic, Humanistic and Fulfilment approaches to leadership) (Avolio & Bass, 1988; Bass, 1990; Casimir, 2001).
In order to make the connection between differing leadership styles characteristics and their effectiveness in the field of leadership within various ethnic groups, we will examine the various kinds of approaches adopted or admired within various ethnic groups as it relates to leaders within these communities. These are be introduced below:
African American Leadership: Charismatic approach
One of the more pronounced characteristics of African-Americans is their uncanny ability to incite sentiments and emotions. They are adept in what could be labelled as a “Charismatic” style of leadership, which is not only apparent in the work place but also in their other aspects of community life.
This is not entirely surprising as the core values of the traditional Africa-American community makes true when assessing a leader is that all leaders must be bold, innovative, committed and able to motivate the masses. They must, if they wish to remain in leadership positions, have their finger on the pulse of the people they represent or be able to determine what that pulse is (Kershaw, 2001).
A critical aspect of a charismatic leadership is that they must not ever lose the focus from the masses and shift interest to the individual. If this occurs then the leaders authority will become easily dispersed and he/she will lose their authority, since the leaders main hold centres on how they move the various constituent groups in an organisation as a whole. With the African-American charismatic leaders they often find it necessary to move its constituents into cooperative action, and this aspect, which is often identified as a factor, which determines a good leader as perceived by the eye of the community. It is also necessary to create a strong a supportive organization with the leaders role serving as a medium to turn plans into reality.
One of the foremost requirement in charismatic leadership, is to tap into the forces contained within organisation, and while it may appear at times to be very cumbersome, at times it does however not negates the importance of charismatic leadership (Kershaw, 2001). Charismatic leaders within the African-American communities are very useful especially when there is a need move against a more powerful adversary arises, such as a discriminating upper management, for instance. However a charismatic leader, in its most successful form can serve as catalyst by acting as a unifying force.
Hispanic Leadership: Humanistic approach
Hispanic form of leadership emphasizes the importance of human relations in order to achieve the most favourable results from the whole organisation. Bordas (2001) in his article details Latino leadership as having three dynamics, all of these are said to characterize the idea of the humanistic approach to leadership: Firstly a leader should have Personalismo, which pertains to the actual effort, made by the leader to earn the trust and respect of followers. Secondly a leader should develop Tejando Lazos (which translates to ‘weaving connections’) this really refers to the traditional Hispanic leaders as storytellers (weavers), keepers of cultural memory, to be the dream weavers (creating tapestries of traditions past). Thirdly a leader should act as community scholars with emphasis being the placed upon developing an understanding of the social climate—how it changes rapidly—and by encouraging collective action, very much akin to their African-American counterparts.
Bordas develops this further dividing these concepts into sub-divisions derived from the three dynamics listed above and attempts to develop a uniquely Hispanic model of leadership that can be clearly identified (Bordas, 2001). The sub divisions that Bordas created are set out below
In the Hispanic Community “Culture is Central” – as an ethnic group they are bound by the Spanish language, colonization, the Catholic Church and the common values stemming from their Spanish heritage / indigenous roots. This cultural aspect has to be tapped into by a leader as a common ground from which to operate from for a Hispanic leader as they relate with their constituents.
As in many cultures the Hispanic community places a high emphasis on “Trust” and it is seen as one of the most important value and is integral to the success of Latino leadership. Being trustworthy in general, Hispanic Leaders are known to be people-and relationships-centered, always certain that the leaders are very capable and dependable. Loyalty is highly valued in a traditional Hispanic setting and they take the concept of trust very seriously with their followers often confiding in their leaders, and perhaps, vice-versa.
Within the Hispanic Community “Respect” – is seen as one of the foremost characteristic, which should be noticeable in a leader. This type of respect is usually found in a person who is older, possesses knowledge, or is in a position of authority. The Hispanic concept of “well-respected” covers both the professional and personal aspects of the leader. They show great respect towards people who exercise a degree of power, people of professions such as priests, doctors, teachers, while on a personal level they place considerable importance on a person’s lifestyle, their manners, their moral values, and there generosity.
A Hispanic leader should have the skill of “Congeniality”: Being able to maintain smooth pleasant social relationships with people within the community. This is seen as extremely important and a premium is placed on social manners, being polite, respectful, and courteous and an ability to make small talk, taking personal interest in people. To be a successful leader in the Hispanics community they look for individuals that can develop relationships down to the very personal level.
Taoist Leadership (Chinese) – Fulfilment approach
It has now become fashionable for many western leaders to adopt the Taoist philosophy of leadership. This is often referred to or described as the path to both professional and personal fulfilment (Johnson, 2002), it is purported to create more cooperative, flexible, and creative leaders. Johnson claims that Taoist leadership qualities are highly desirable for a decentralized, rapidly changing work environment. A leader, which is following this approach, is said to experience a sense of equilibrium in the midst of the chaos, which is commonplace in many western organisations, it is best expounded in the following excerpt:
The more you embody these [Taoist] teachings, the more the scattered parts of your life fall into place and become a seamless whole; work seems effortless; your heart opens by itself to all the people in your life; you have time for everything worthwhile; your mind becomes empty, transparent, serene; you embrace sorrow as much as joy, failure as much as success; you unthinkingly act with integrity and compassion; and you find that you have come to trust life completely. (Autry & Mitchell, 1998, p. xviii)
The Taoist leadership approach to leadership, places a great deal emphasis on the inner calm and balance, which should be maintained by creating a low profile, and leading mostly by example and allowing followers to take ownership (Johnson, 2002).
With the select examples illustrated above namely that of Afro-American, Hispanic and Taoist leadership it obvious that there is a whole range of core values and skills to choose from in order to create a leader who can be borne out of diversity. It will be important to equip such a leaders in organisations today with the training and skills to adapt to the ever-changing contexts in which organisations now operate. But diversity itself is not only confined to ethnic classes, it also includes in its definition the member of the other gender, the female.
Women in the Leadership Arena – The Glass Ceiling
There is such a phenomena known as the “glass ceiling”. The glass ceiling is, according to Chaffins, Fuqua Jr., Forbes and Cangemi (2002) a term coined in the early 1980's to describe the invisible barrier with which women came in contact when working up the corporate ladder. This form of discrimination has been depicted as a "barrier so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women and minorities from moving up in the management hierarchy"
Sexual discrimination often keeps most women out of senior managerial positions; this creates the stereotypical image in the general psyche of society that men are more stable than women in terms of intellect, emotion, and in terms of achievement with the resultant effect that men are also seen as being more assertive than females. This creates a major obstacle for women who aspire to achieve a senior managerial position are the presence of these stereotypical constraints imposed upon them by society, the family, and women themselves (Crampton, 2002).
In order to overcome these obstacles, women (who have successfully climbed the management ladder) have found it a necessity to acquire the courage, the skills, and willpower in order to overcome the male-established norms and environmental climate. While policy making and also placement is largely in the hands of males (Crampton, 2002), there are still recommended tactics for women to develop in order to survive the rigors of the male-dominated workplace.
It is by capturing of all the aforementioned traits and skills found in minority groups in many organisations and by making use of the rich cache of resources and qualities to compliment the traditional ‘successful’ white male leader that will make organisations better equipped to deal with the world today. It will be essential to adopt an approach, which includes many facets from different leadership styles from those of different ethnic and gender backgrounds rather than relying on the traditional narrow focus organisations currently utilised by organisations. It will then be possible for organizations to continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive space for talented individuals.
In this chapter I will focus on four key sections. Firstly, I will explore the historical and social context of the development of diversity in organisations. Secondly, we will attempt to examine the rationale for the organisation wanting to have a diverse work force and leadership. Thirdly we will look at the various leadership models contained in the literature and fourthly review the issues that are specific to leaders from different ethnic and gender backgrounds in their struggle to raise their profile and attain senior leadership positions. Table 3.1 highlights the key themes within the literature and the main points that are discussed in each section.
3.1 Historical and Social context
3.2 Rationale for diverse organisations
3.3 Leadership models
3.4 Diversity issues in leadership
Table 3.1 Key themes within the literature
3.1 The Historical and Social Context
In this section I will focus on the evolution of leadership diversification in work environments from the early years up to the most recent time. This section discusses the various changes that standard norms have undergone in relation to labor and management. The changes that are cited in this section mainly evolve around the beginning of the participation of women and ethnical minorities in the work force, role of women in organizational management and other issues related to a diverse labor management.
Diversity in the workplace and the management has long been an issue debated among work organizations. In the United States, for instance, race has been a profound determinant of one’s political rights, one’s locations in the labor market, one’s access to medical care and even one’s sense of identity. Most importantly, race is one of the major bases of domination in its society and a major means through which the division of labor occurs in organisations (Nkomo, 1992, p. 488, drawing on the work of Omi and Winant, 1986; Reich, 1981). Gender is also a basis for stratification in organizations and work (Tang and Smith, 1996).
In some research studies, it has been observed that the impact of race on organizations is somewhat more profound than gender, at least in the case of white women. Researchers believed that this may be because the social distance between White women and men is less than that of White men and ethnic or racial minorities. The racial separation evident in housing, education and church affiliation limits the opportunities for minorities to develop non-work social ties with White men (Massey & Denton, 1993; Wilson, 1996). The degree of separation between White men and women is lesser. Hence, White women seem likely to have greater opportunity for non-work social ties and the work related benefits one may derive from such ties.
As an overview, about 37.3% of adult women in 1960 were in the workplace while 83.3% are adult males. By 1987, the number of working males has decreased to 78% (Schor, 1991). In 1990, the percentage of working women had increased by 45%. At this time, approximately one-half of all black workers, 45% of all white workers, and 40% of all Hispanic workers were women. In the U.S. statistics report, an average 16-year-old male can expect 39 years of working in the labor force, while a typical female of the same age, can expect 30 years of labor force involvement (U.S. Department of Labor, 1990).
3.1.1 The early years
Before cultural diversity has been willingly integrated by various organisations, the early years had witnessed this concept shunned by other business management. In fact, in a published work of Peter Drucker (1968), he did not even mention dealing with cultural diversity in his seminal work. He addressed the topic of the manager of tomorrow and stressed that American managers, more than ever, would have to be of impeccable personal integrity and would have to shoulder the social responsibility of keeping the opportunity open to rise from the bottom according to ability and performance.
Implicitly, Drucker advised managers to disregard cultural background and instead focus on individual qualities. While this message remain relevant, it lack any global appeal and fails to recognize that there might be special management challenges in an increasingly multi-cultural business environment.
In the early times, men and women received different signals about what was expected of them. To summarize a subject that many experts have explored in depth, women have been expected to be wives, mothers, community volunteers, teachers and nurses. In all these roles, they are supposed to be cooperative, supportive, understanding, gentle and service-providers to others. They are to derive satisfaction and a sense of self-esteem from helping others, including their spouses. While men have had to appear competitive, strong, tough, decisive and in control, women have been allowed to be cooperative, emotional, supportive and vulnerable. This may perhaps explain why women of the following generations are more likely than men to be interactive leaders (Rosener, 1990).
Men and women have also had different career opportunities. Women were not expected to have careers, or at least not the same kinds of careers as men, so they either pursued different jobs or were simply denied of opportunities men had. Women’s career tracks have usually not included long series of organizational positions with formal authority and control of resources. Many women had their first work experiences outside the home as volunteers. While some of the challenges they faced as managers in volunteer organizations are the same as those in any business, in many ways, leading volunteers is different because of the absence of concrete rewards like pay and promotion.
Discrimination, whether direct, indirect or institutionalized, requires the widespread acceptance of supporting belief systems about appropriate social roles and behaviour for men and women (Vaughan, 1992, p. 7). The links between the male stereotype that are logical, rational, aggressive, strategic, competitive and decisive and the values that predominate in ideas about the nature of formal organization are striking (Morgan, 1986). Organizations and managers are often encouraged to be rational, analytical, strategic, decision-oriented, tough and competitive. These values, together with stereotypes and socialized roles, build barriers (Marshall, 1993a and 1993b; Morrison et al., 1987) and are a major impediment to the mobility of talented women and other ethnic actors into senior management (Hede and Ralston, 1994; Korac-Boisvert, 1994a). This concept of a protective shield (Burton, 1992) assumes that women’s under representation at senior management level is not a matter of choice or failure on the part of women, particularly of ethnic women, but is a consequence of structural and sociological barriers erected through forms of direct and indirect interaction (Vaughan, 1992). Considering that these barriers have been identified by numerous studies and that a variety of initiatives with national and international scope have been undertaken, as exemplified by Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA), these barriers should be considered to be visible and concrete but difficult to prove in practical or legal ways (Korac-Boisvert, 1994a).
The embodiment of a male managerial culture may be partly ascribed to the fact that when work organizations and management were first being formed, only males were in the workforce, and partly to the historical fact that for many years, men were able to hold power at all levels because they were free of child bearing and rearing duties and thus, were available to participate in all forms of socio-political life (Palmer and Kandaasami, 1993).
In the case of the ethnic and coloured women, it also stems from the traditional dominance of an Anglo-Celtic class legitimacy. Even up to the present, most organisations retain the macho, control and command mentality that is intrinsic to the increasingly threadbare mode (Bennis, 1993, p. 103) reinforcing the character of the work organisation itself, the bureaucratic ethos (Millos, 1959) and its culture (Kaufman, 1960), as well as socio-psychological barriers that preclude women from management (Newman, 1993). These barriers include sex-role socialization; sex-role stereotypes and prejudice; ethnic prejudice; negative perception of women’s capacity to manage; questionable motivation and limiting self-concepts (Newman, 1993). For ethnic women, in particular, it also includes lifestyle and behavioural differences.
The tradition of adopted practices, rituals, myths, stories, language and norms that enfold the organizational script, which is a general knowledge structure or schema from events that realizes a high reliability of expectation (Murphy and Medin, 1985, p. 290) reinforces a psycho-structure or a psychological contract that enfolds the actor’s and the organization’s interaction (Schein, 1970, p. 77-8) that segments opportunity structures and job markets in a way that prevents women from achieving a position of prestige and power in the same manner that men do; creating gender-related biases in organizational reality that are enacted and sustained on a daily basis (American Psychological Association, 1991; Fiske et al., 1991; Morgan, 1986, p. 178). Thus, the formal context is a site of tertiary socialization, where the reinforcement of prevailing social norms further segments the labor market by fine distinctions of status and a multiplication of occupational and social roles.
3.1.2 The 1960s Civil Rights to work place
In comparison to the latter years, women working in the labor force during this time were considerably low. Hence, the mere thought of women leading the management was not very much encouraged if not impossible during this time. As women entered the business world, they tended to find themselves in positions consistent with the roles they play at home, such as staff positions rather than in line positions, supporting the work of others, and in functions like communications or human resources where they had relatively small budgets and few people reporting directly to them (Rosener, 1990). Conventional wisdom, perhaps, was the major hindrance of women and the one responsible for holding them back from being promoted into senior management.
Probably it was the same conventional wisdom that inhibits female managers from ascending to senior management ranks in organizations today. This norm may also be accounted for a particular outcome as noted by NASA back in 1960s. In 1962, an astronaut program was conducted by NASA, testing 25 female pilots along with male applicants. By the end of this Mercury Program, the efficacy of the female pilots were discovered as they were generally resistant to radiation, less subject to heart attacks and better able to endure extremes of heat, cold, pain, noise and loneliness. As women normally weighed less than men and required less food and oxygen, they would also have saved money in the expensive per-pound business of capsule launching. Nevertheless, their success appeared to come as such a shock that NASA simply decreed no women will be taken in (Steinem, 1992, p. C1-1).
However, beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and increasingly since then, several organisations have conformed to legislation and other social forces compelling them to change their hiring practices. Institutional theory posits that organizational legitimacy and survival are contingent on conformity to the practices and procedures defined by rationalized concepts of organizational work and institutionalized in society (Meyer and Rowan, 1977, p.341). Regardless of whether a particular practice or procedure makes sense for an organization vis-à-vis performance, productivity and revenue-cost criteria, the organization adopts the practice in compliance with collective industry norms, thereby improving the organization’s long-term survival prospects (Meyer and Rowan, 1977). Responding to instructional norms posed by the external environment, organisations are hiring and promoting women and minorities into supervisory and management positions.
In a study conducted by Sharon Collins (1997), focus was given on the Black professionals. Collins indicated that in the 1960s and 1970s, new Black professionals in White institutions filled roles tied to the appeasement of Blacks. Many of these professionals moved into human resource departments and were responsible for administering corporate policies regarding Black employees and potential employees and for lessening the racial pressure on White corporations (Collins, 1997). Collins termed these positions “racialized” because they are disproportionately directed at, occupied by, or concerned with Blacks. In addition, political conditions created these positions; thus, they were only stable when the political environment advocates strong federal government interventions (Collins, 1997).
3.1.3 The 1970s Affirmative action
When women first started to enter the corporate world as managers in substantial numbers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, very few expected to pursue a career path leading to a senior management position. Corporate policies at that time did not include affirmative action programs to promote women to senior management positions, which made the first generation of women managers even more wary of setting a goal to rise to the top (Morrison, 1992).
A survey by Catalyst (1990) of human resource managers found that corporations were still not creating diversity initiatives or policies that effectively lessened the obstacles for women wishing to ascend through the ranks of senior management. Catalyst (1990) found out that only 4% of those companies interviewed attempted to promote women into line positions, and concluded that the identified problems associated with promotion of women into the senior ranks were not being addressed with any type of effective policies or programs by most companies.
Women in middle management often cite a lack of performance-based feedback as compared with their male colleagues, which may serve as an additional obstacle for further promotion. Morrison (1992) also stated that diversity awareness and leadership training for women in the corporate environment would not succeed unless employees at all levels of the organization are educated and fully understand the rationale behind the promotion of diversity, including the promotion of more women to the ranks of upper management.
Since 1960, especially in the year 1974, the labor force participation of males under the age of 64 had made a sharp downturn (Rosenfeld and Brown, 1979). The decrease had occurred at both the beginning and end of their work lives. Although, the majority of males combine work and school together, some males enter the labor market later and tended to stay in school longer. Moreover, many of them had to leave the work force earlier, not only because of poor health but also because of better Social Security benefits (Levitan and Gallo, 1990). Some withdrawals are voluntary, but most of the male working population would continue to work if jobs were available.
One of the reasons for the involuntary withdrawal among males in the labor force is poor health. Nearly half of the men retiring between the ages of 55 and 69 were due of poor health. Another main reason is unemployment. Some males thought that retirement is a more honourable estate than unemployment that others would retire as a way of dealing with long-term chronic unemployment. Older workers with low skill levels who are laid off, find it especially difficult to seek and apply for new work opportunities. However, in the long run, with the recent wave of corporate mergers and downsizing, even several managers and professional workers had been unable to apply for jobs that were comparable to those they left. Low educational achievement of some males had also caused their early withdrawal from the workforce. Males who had low educational levels found it more difficult to apply for other jobs as they grow older. Other reasons such as pressures to take early leaves, plant closings, corporate restructuring and age bias had all played a role in this employment withdrawal among males (Schor, 1991).
Voluntary retirement on the other hand, was primarily caused by financial reasons. Oftentimes, the decision to retire voluntarily is also influenced by factors such as a secure pension, the absence of dependents, the desire for leisure, increases in Social Security benefits and other work conditions like boring or monotonous tasks (Rosenfeld and Brown, 1979).
Since 1979, women workers have accounted for 62% of the increase in the size of the labor force. The middle age group between ages 24 and 54 had contributed the largest increase in women’s participation in the labor force. In the past, this period marked the time when women would leave the work force to raise families. During this time, factors had contributed to the increase of women in labor force activities. One is the inverse relation of fertility rates to labor force participation. As women had fewer children, it was more likely that she will be in the labor force. Higher levels of education for both men and women were contributory to the higher probability that they will be participating in the labor force. This period also marked the beginning discrimination against women in the work force had abated. Changes in attitudes had also made others realize the significant role of women in the society. The increased employment in the service sector had also supported women’s labor force participation. The shift from a manufacturing to a service economy had paved the way for a substantial proportion of new job creation available for women.
Part time work, both voluntary and involuntary, had also increased considerably. From here on, part time employment had grown steadily. However, only a small portion of this growth had been in more or less permanent jobs with good pay, skill requirements and advancement opportunities (Tilly, 1991). The number of single-person and single-parent households had also increased during this time. There had also been a decline in wages of the male workers, which made the women’s participation necessary.
These developments however, did not paint a good outlook for women workers. As implied by some of the discussed factors above, women during this time continued to receive low earnings. Although many service sector jobs are high-income professional and managerial positions, so as some part time jobs, a much greater number were in low-paying and unstable sales, service and clerical occupations. Most of the time women workers end up working in small and relatively unstable organizations. These firms on the other hand, hire a large proportion of part time worker for a variety of reasons such as greater flexibility in scheduling, lower compensation costs or technological change that makes workers more productive in shorter shifts (Tilly, 1991).
The economic hardships created by this kind of employment had in turn resulted to the need of other family members to enter the labor market so as to supplement the family income (Nord, 1969). The prevalence of this type of employment further explains why such a large portion of single-parent families live below the poverty level.
Still, time had come when married men were no longer the mainstay of the labor market. Back in 1955, husbands constituted 52% of the labor force. However, by 1977, this figure had shrank to 41% and continuously decreased in the following years (Harriman, 1996). This then had encouraged the development of many organizations and their management through the integration of diversification and reformation of traditional norms.
3.1.4 The 1980s Backlash
In 1982, more than 70 percent of the labor force lived in married-couple families. By the same year, the percentage of the labor force made up of wives was on the increase (Klein, 1983). Also, about a half of all married couples were in multi-earner families (Waldman, 1983). Another 10 percent of the work force lived in families maintained by women on their own, most of which were single-earner families (Klein, 1983). Married men were no longer the mainstay of the family, either. In 1988, about 56 percent of all wives and 81 percent of all husbands were in the labor force. The variation of these rates was minimal even for families with children.
During this time, management in various companies and organizations have undergone significant changes, focusing more on the importance of understanding differences between genders and cultures. These changes encompass the increase in a more diverse work force, a shift in scope of the work environment from local to international markets, the increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions among corporations from different countries, the organizational restructuring across national boundaries, the emergence of high technology and telecommunication systems facilitating international communications and the increase in the number of females entering the workforce worldwide (Erez, 1993). As these changes had resulted to a profound psychological impact among individuals in the organization, studies have been constantly conducted. At this point, cross-cultural gender research in the organization was critical in the development of the field as most organizational studies then had tended to focus more on events that occur within the individual, such as their attitudes and cognitions, rather than on events that occur between individuals, which includes the influence of culture or societal roles on social behaviour.
Since the mid-1980s, a considerable legislative infrastructure, designed to reduce the segmentation and segregation of women in the workforce, has been established in developed societies. In Australia, for example, the most notable elements involve the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act, 1984 (ACG, 1984a); Public Service Reform Act, 1984 (ACG, 1984b); Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act, 1986 (ACG, 1986); and the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act, 1987 (ACG, 1987).
There is also a variety of state anti-discrimination laws and a plethora of women’s organizations that provide advice and support to career and achievement oriented women (Still et al., 1994). As a result, all organizations with more than 100 employees are now required to submit equal opportunity management plans, affirmative action plans and reports to various government agencies. Organizations that choose not to submit an EEO report are banned from government lists of product and service suppliers. Although EEO policies are important initiatives in opening the workplace to diversity, they alone cannot and do not create conditions that capitalize on the full potential of heterogeneity (Thomas, 1991).
The 1980s also signalled a decline in federal advocacy for Blacks and other minorities in employment. As such, with reduced external pressure, racialized jobs became unstable and expendable, resulting in a disproportionate number of Black executives losing their jobs (Collins, 1997).
The population of women in the labor market remained low up to this decade. During this time, it was thought by many that the 1990s would be a fruitful decade for increasing the number of women at the top, as there would be enough women in the pipeline.
3.1.5 The 1990s Bottom line
In contemporary organizations of the 1990s, discrimination that has been outlawed for years pervades the culture in a subtle and less visible way. Indeed, prejudice and discrimination are major obstacles to the advancement of women and people of ethnicity and colour, as their difference is equated with deficiency (Korac-Boisvert, 1994b). The traditional discrimination embedded in the organizational script preconditions, or reinterprets the actor’s sensory information through expectancies, emotional psycho-structures, level of stress, belief systems or sexual mores (Schott, 1991). However subtle, they are equally real, creating different experiences and presenting many practical problems for organizational actors and society at large (American Psychological Association, 1991; Korac-Boisvert, 1994a; Morgan, 1986).
Because prejudice and discrimination are often subtle, impediments are also often left undressed, as many actors may even believe that their behaviour is fair and just. However, until they are willing to accept values and behaviours of other actors that are dissimilar from their own, they will continue to carry a judgemental perspective that can, in spite of themselves, be prejudicial (Carnevale and Stone, 1994, p. 25).
This mindset, created by an obsolete organizational paradigm or the hierarchical model that captures control, orders and predicts future action (Kouzmin, 1980a and 1980b), is no longer appropriate (Bennis, 1993, p. 104). The accelerated rate and complexity of change, exemplified by dramatic demographic shifts, IT developments and globalization, require new organizational models and paradigms in which different sets of skills, ideas and interactions and values are required (Bennis, 1993; Kanter, 1977, 1987; Korac-Boisvert and Kouzmin, 1994; Kouzmin and Korac-Boisvert, 1995). There is a need to acknowledge differences through action and to welcome heterogeneity by developing a variety of initiatives valuing diversity of the individual and inter group levels of organization (Loden and Rosener, 1991). These models should develop an environment that works for all actors free of distinctions such as race, gender, class, native language, national origin, age, sexual orientation and religion, irrelevant to often routine and highly achievable merit-based positions in formal organizations.
Increasing numbers of women entering the workforce and vocational training gave rise to conscious and unconscious strategies for gender management (Morgan, 1986) and for dealing with women’s changing roles in the paid workforce (Nichols, 1993; Reardon, 1993; Thomas, 1990). However, the proliferation of gender management, women management, behaviour management workshops, training courses and other career-oriented seminars suggests that women, in their eagerness for acceptance in management roles, are trading their beliefs and values for dominate male norms with a variety of consequences (Bennis, 1993); contributing to the further marginalization of women (Marshall, 1993a & 1993b). Compelling evidence reveals that when women are perceived to have been successful, they are also considered to be unfeminine or to have exhibited male behaviour (Loden, 1985; Manis et al., 1986). Research date suggest that in order to be successful, women, consciously or unconsciously, undertake a metaphorical sex change to man in order to fit into masculine-defined managerial roles.
Although women and minorities clearly have more management opportunities than in the years past, organisations are having problems retaining them. Retention problems may be related to frustration resulting from the glass ceiling and walls women and minorities encounter (Morrison & Von Glinow, 1990; Rowe, 1990); the marginality, powerlessness, and limited opportunity of the departments into which they are placed (Ragins and Sudstrom, 1989); or the unobtrusive “microinequalities” they encounter (Rowe, 1990).
In 1990, 40% of U.S. executives, managers and administrators were women. However, even if the women and minorities are represented among management, they are confined to lower and middle management for most of their careers. In the same year, 2.6% of Fortune 500 corporate officers, which includes vice presidents and other higher positions, were women. Among Fortune’s Service 500, 4.3% of the corporate of the corporate officers were women (Von Glinow, 1988). Tracking these data from 1965 to 1990, Von Glinow (1988) concluded that extrapolating into the future using the rate of increase of women’s representation among corporate officers from 1975 to 1990; it would take 475 years to achieve parity with men. Similar statistics apply to minorities (Fernandez, 1975, 1981; Fernandez and Barr, 1993; Morrison, 1992).
Although there has been some progress since the Von Glinow study, women continue to be underrepresented in the corporate boardroom. Catalyst’s (1998) survey of Fortune 500 firms revealed that 11.2% of corporate officers were women and 3.8% of those at the executive vice president level or above were women as well. Even if women and minorities may have been granted access to management position to this time, they do not have the sufficient economic, political, social and symbolic capital to force redefinition of the implicit – that is, White male requirements of the field.
Another hindrance for women to reach senior management is their lack of line experience, a traditional prerequisite for the CEO position. A survey of 461 senior female executives and 325 male CEOs at America’s largest corporations done in 1995 found that although 44% of women senior executives polled reported to the CEO or a person one level down from the CEO, more than 60% of these women are in staff support areas such as human resources or public relations (Lublin, 1996). In order to be in line for the CEO position, senior managers usually need to have line experience in areas such as marketing or operations and typically they need to be offered this experience by mid-career at the latest to be considered in the pipeline for the top position.
When it was thought that this decade would mark the influx of women in senior management during the 1980s, the findings of the 1995 Glass Ceiling Commission were much less optimistic, however. The commission stated that it may be decades before any significant change in the percentage of females at the senior management or CEO levels is realized (Rosenblatt, 1995). Still, in a recent poll of senior female executives during this time had revealed that in their view, there are plenty of women in the pipeline at present, but that they are just not “popping up to the top” (Lublin, 1996).
The General Accounting Office’s 1991 research concluded that the percentage of women and minorities in the Senior Executive Service (SES) and the pipeline to the SES was unacceptable. In the USA, women represented 45.5 percent of the total civilian workforce in 1992 (US Bureau of the Census, 1992a; 1992b; US Department of Labour and Bureau of Labour Statistics, 1994). Women fill 46 percent of federal white collar jobs; however, hold only 18 percent of the senior management positions (GM-13, GM-14 and GM-15). At the top of the federal government hierarchy, Senior Executive Service (SES) women hold only 12 percent of the available positions (US Merit Systems Protection Board, 1992).
Women in the USA are still over-represented in low paying jobs with an apparent gap between men’s and women’s earnings. In 1991, female high school graduates were earning less than males who were high school drop outs, with $18, 042 and $20, 944 annual earnings respectively. Men with a lower associates degree annually earn nearly the same as similarly employed women with a master’s degree, with $32, 221 and 33, 122 respectively (World Almanac, 1994, p. 132). Overall, women in the USA earn only 75 cents for every dollar earned by men when comparing the 1992 median weekly earnings of full-time workers, where in the 1992 median weekly earnings for women is $381 while men receive $505.
In Canada, women constituted 45.4 percent of the workforce in 1993, a steady from 41.9 percent in 1983. During the same period, the distribution of women in managerial and administrative positions had increased from 29.2 percent in 1982 to 42.2 percent in 1993 (Statistics Canada, 1993). In 1994, women occupied 18.3 percent of 3,875 senior management executive (SME)-category positions in the federal government, of which the majority are at the entry level (Treasury Board of Canada, 1994).
Women accounted for just over half the population and 46 percent of the labour force in 1992 in the UK; of which 85 percent had jobs in service industries (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1993). However, despite the established EEO infrastructure, in place since 1975 (Equal Pay Act 1970, which came into force in 1975 and was widened in 1984 by the Sex Discrimination Act 1975), women are under represented in senior management jobs. Only 25 percent of managers and only 3 percent of senior executives were women in 1993, a significant increase from a 0.5 percent female component of senior executives in 1983.
In 1991, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII was amended to include punitive damages, prohibiting sex discrimination in the U.S. in all employment-related matters. Women in the U.S. have made considerable progress in organisations in the nearly 40 years since Title VII was passed and affirmative action for women was implemented.
Nevertheless, women in the U.S. earning only about 76 cents to the dollar that men earn (Wall Street Journal, 1998), are more concentrated in lower earning industries and organizations than are men (Kim, 2000), and are under represented in managerial and executive positions – positions of power, decision-making and influence. Though comprising almost 50% of the U.S. workforce, women occupy only about 30% of all salaried manager positions, 20% of middle manager positions, and about 5% of executive level positions (Bose and Whaley, 2001; Fagenson and Jackson, 1993; Rice, 1994). These disparities in earnings, status and position cannot be completely or largely explained by differences in the education, job tenure or experience of working women, leaving much to be attributed to employment discrimination (Blau et al., 1998; Cain, 1986).
Like in the previous years, the glass ceiling was still there. Perhaps, one event that was related and worth noting in this observation was the ascendance of women into executive policy-making roles, which occurred at the 1992 Earth Summit. A coalition called the World Congress of Women for a Healthy Planet argued that an integral problem in nations worldwide is the subordination of women. Frank Allen had noted that the summit itself reflected the state of the world regarding women in executive decision-making roles. According to Allen, men dominated delegation rosters, plenary sessions and high level treaty negotiations, while women answered phones, made photo copies and served coffee (Allen, 1992, p. B4).
In 1994, a longitudinal study of 262 Australian organizations revealed that senior management positions accounted for 13.8% of all supervisory and management positions of which 2.5% were occupied by women (Still et al., 1994). By 1992, perhaps owing to a protracted trend for downsizing and recession, senior management positions have declined marginally to 11.4%, with women occupying only 1.3% (Still et al., 1994, p. 50). Women follow a similar trend in junior management positions (Still et al., 1994, p. 50). Despite the fact that women have made some progress overall, it appears that attitudes have not changes in many organisations between 1984 and 1992 (Still et al., 1994).
However, the combined gradual decline of male workers in the labor market and the renewed outlook of most work organizations towards women and minorities in the work force have in many ways contributed to the present status of the labor market in the 1990s. During this decade, female leaders cannot help but emerge in the corporate side along with the decreasing percentage of males in the workplace. This in turn had encouraged companies to dip into the growing pool of women and minorities for executive talent (Nelton, 1991). Although, the barrier that women encounter in reaching senior management was still present, the possibility was already open. Before, the general perception of business management was a structure dominated by males whose leadership style was hierarchical, action-oriented and even quasi-military. The ideal leader was sees as an independent, tough, individualistic hero, much like the John Wayne character or the real-life Lee Iacocca (Nelton, 1991). But now, a new generation of women is bringing to business a style often described as more consensus-building, more open and inclusive, more likely to encourage participation by others, and even more caring than that of many males.
Much of the past research on leadership was focused on identifying personality traits associated with effective leadership, and understanding the impact of situational factors on the leadership process (Chemers and Ayman, 1993). But a new trend of leadership research emerged in the 1990s as organizations began to undergo major stru
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