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In the business world of today, the term Globalization is becoming more and more popular or rather it's always at the tip of the tongue. Journalists, politicians, businessmen use Globalization as a catch to their articles of presentations, to attract and at the same time to expand their horizons of the mind, the country's economy and also the business. Globalization is known as the worldwide movement towards the integration of trade, economic finances and communication which implies the opening up towards any other nationalistic perspectives; so that the nation would have a broader outlook of interconnected and interdependent world, with free the free transfer or transactions across the borders of nations.
As we can all see, the real purpose of Globalization is to make nations open up their doors to other countries, to tap on resources and to enhance the global economy if it happens to all the nations in the world. This is something that we can never see as nations like Pyongyang in North Korea and Tehran in Iran, is not really opening up to the rest of the world. But then again, crossing borders can also enhance the labour workforce of the world whereby the world will have opportunities created for another nation's workforce. Say for instance, China. The opening up of China to the rest of the world has made the Chinese, who are most of them farmers in the olden days, now renowned as a nation that is in the vast workforce. Many investors have opened up organizations across China and this has created job opportunities for the Chinese there. And hence, at the same time, China's economy have boosted up tremendously. We can even see China's products on our Singapore roads. During the yesteryears, we can mostly see Toyota, Nissan or Daihatsus on our roads, but with the improvement of China, we can see King Longs, Cherrys and Yutongs in our roads daily.
Everything that happens will come in a complete package, inclusive of the pros and cons. We can see that Globalization is vast taking place and is in the process of our daily economy. Even though we have this state to help us improve our economies, but however, we can still see discrimination that is taking place in the workforce, not only locally, but worldwide. It is so saddening to find that discrimination is still happening in this new age, not only locally, but also globally. So, where has globalization lead us to?
In this report, we will look into the traits of discrimination, its history, the legislation, types of it and best of all, how can we help to bring down to zero, something which is attainable if every employer and employee know what to do - from the correct place to apply for job to the best solution for the employees. As mentioned above, it is possible for us to begin our actions so as to ‘kill' discrimination.
Discrimination and its History
The trace of discrimination has stretched a long way back where it is most practiced in the larger nations. The most common ones are discrimination against women. It is naturally known that women are the less dependable gender to run a country due to the ‘weak' characteristics that they portray. In the olden days, women are classified as the homemakers rather than the breadwinners and hence therefore, they are not exposed to the outside working world. Moreover, the aims of the kings in the kingdoms are to expand their kingdoms, as wide as they can. But why discrimination started off? Some have said that it is because of their achievements. In the larger societies, they are always looking into expanding, and their aim is to be larger than they are before. These nations built extensive and complicated networks and their engineering was on a scale and level enough to support a large society.
Looking back into history that is from a list of all of the societies that ever existed, it is easy to pick out societies that practices discrimination.For example, Spain, back in history, used to discriminate the Jews heavily. The Jews were forced either to convert into Catholicism or risk of being sent out of Spain. Apart from that, the Spanish also created an organization which they named ‘Inquisition'. The role of the organization is to be the watchdog against the Jews and if any of them are not favorable towards the Spanish government, Inquisition will take the role of persecution of the Jews. So, people were persecuted for being Jews. Adding more to that, if someone was thought to be a witch or practicing witchcraft, she or he will eventually be persecuted.Likely, homosexuals were also persecuted.
In South Africa, Australia, and the United States, the black and native aboriginal populations have faced heavy persecution.Segregation was prevalent in all of these three countries. The Blacks were illegally prohibited from political voting and violence is a common practice towards the Blacks. The Native American population or so called the Red Indians faced heavy discrimination in the United States.The families of this population were forced to break up and their children were sent to school that teaches them things that goes against their cultures. Apart from that, the families from this group were also forced to abandon their original ways of life and to live on reservations.
It is fortunate for us living in the world today as the surroundings of us today are less tolerant towards discrimination. We all think that discrimination is the phenomena of the past, but ironically, it is still happening, but on a subtle manner. Most nations in the world have laws that go against it, barring most, if not all, forms of discrimination but however, discrimination based on sexual orientation is still an exception, though, and still faces a lot of discrimination across the world, especially in Asia.
One specific barring of discrimination in the U.S. involves employment practices. Employers are prevented by the law from discriminating against employees or potential employees, usually discovered during interviews.
Diversity in workplace has been a great tool for improving the culture of a company and at the same time helped in boosting a company's profits. In the early 1990s, Jill Kerr Conway was the sole female director at Nike. Conway had suggested that the Nike should be changing its sales strategies and to launch a female sports-apparel division. Her idea was not too popular but today, the proliferation of Nike shops solely stocked with women's sports apparel is a testament to the success of that strategy.
Although Singapore has been held out as a meritocracy, certain indications point to the conclusion that workplace discrimination still exists. Advertisements which stipulate certain requirements, for example, those which require applicants to be below the age of 45, are sometimes thinly disguised instances of discrimination. A person's capability is not determined by his age or any single defining factor, but by many other factors. Certain characteristics of a person are a legitimate requirement, for example, the ability to speak in Mandarin where a person has to be posted to China to facilitate doing business.
Legislations and Laws that Help Curb Discrimination
Are we really all equal? The Constitution guarantees the equality of all persons before the law and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, descent or place of birth in the administration of certain laws or in the civil service. However, employers in the private sector are not prohibited from discriminating against employees on such grounds except to the extent as legislated. Singapore too has taken a pro-employer stance and although they have already lagged behind countries such as the United Kingdom and European Union in terms of the scope of protection offered to employees.
In the laws of Singapore, the nation does not have any general anti-discrimination laws except for regulations which outlaw discrimination on the basis of age, or in the case of women, due to pregnancy. Employers are not permitted to terminate an employee for the reason that the employee has been called up for national service, mobilized, voluntary or regular service unless he is carrying out national service which has been meted out as a punishment or if he has been called up for full time service and is only employed for an agreed period.
The European Union, in contrast, has regulations which make it unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their gender, race, disability, gender reassignment as well as sexual orientation.
Differing from the other nations, there are laws and Acts that protect the interest of employees and job seekers in the United States. These legislations played a vital role in providing employees the so called coverage against discrimination. An example of the said law would be Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In this legislation, it is explained that : -
(a) It shall be unlawful employment practice for an employer : -
- To fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or other wise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin; or
- To limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin. [Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C.A. sec. 2000e et seq., sec 703 (a)]
Presently, Singapore has limited legislation which prohibits discrimination in the workplace. Under the Employment Act, a company cannot terminate a female employee as defined under the Employment Act while she is on maternity leave; cannot deprive a female employee of her maternity benefit by terminating her service within a period of 3 months before her confinement date; and cannot by contract remove or reduce the employee's statutory right to paid maternity leave.
Under the Retirement Age Act, a company cannot terminate any employee below the age of 62 years old on the ground of age. (Ministry of Manpower; Manpower Standards; 2006; http://www.mom.gov.sg/publish/momportal/en/communities/workplace_standards/employment_standards0.html)
Under the Enlistment Act, a company cannot terminate an employee on the ground of the employee being, or being liable to be, called up for national service, mobilized, voluntary or regular service unless he is undergoing additional national service which has been meted out as a punishment or he is called up for full-time service and is employed only for an agreed period. (Ministry of Manpower; Manpower Standards; 2006; http://www.mom.gov.sg/publish/momportal/en/communities/workplace_standards/employment_standards0.html)
Notwithstanding the dearth of anti-discrimination legislation, significant inroads have been made to reduce discrimination in the workplace. On 6th September 2006, 173 companies pledged to adopt the Code of Responsible Employment Practices (the “Code”) instituted by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) consisting of the Singapore National Employers Federation, Singapore Business Federation and the National Trade Unions Congress. Further, in January this year, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) adopted the Non-Discriminatory Job Advertisements Guidelines (“Advertising Guidelines”) recently released by TAFEP. SPH will implement the Advertising Guidelines in its vetting of advertisements to be published in newspapers. The aim of this is to minimize instances of job advertisements that are deemed to be discriminatory. (Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices; 2010; http://www.fairemployment.sg/)
The Code of Responsible Employment Practices promotes non-discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, age, gender, marital status and disability.
Guiding principles of the Code:
- Potential employees should be selected on merit, experience, capability and other job requirements.
- Parties must recognize that selection should be based on the special attributes of the candidates who meet the requirements of the job, and not on criteria of race, language, religion or culture.
- Employers should adopt good human resource practices, including non-discriminatory employment practices in order to attract the best talents for the organization.
Some dos and don'ts:
- Do advertise in a manner where the physical attributes are described rather than indicating an age limit.
- Do select candidates strictly on the basis of suitability.
- Don't prepare application forms which may suggest an intention to take account of factors that would, or might, discriminate on various grounds.
Types of Discrimination
Although tracing back to centuries before us, discrimination is known to be happening between genders whereby the men are thought to be the ultimate gender throughout mankind whilst women are made to become the ‘weakest' link and are to be kept in the households, become homemakers after marriage or well, concubines or sex slaves during olden day kingdoms and wars. However, due to the improved lifestyles and surroundings, discrimination have spread its form and have made them to be divided into many types of discrimination, some or more known of would be discriminations against gender, age, religion, race, color, disability, sexual orientation and a few others.
A male applies for a position as a server for a restaurant in his hometown. The restaurant is part of a well known regional chain named for an animal whose name is a colloquial term for a popular part of the female anatomy. Despite several years of experience as a server for comparable establishments the male is turned down for the position, which remains vacant. The applicant is instead offered a position as a kitchen helper. The applicant notices that all servers are female and most are blondes. All servers are required to wear very tight and very short shorts, with T-shirts with the restaurant logo on the front, tied in a knot below their, usually ample breasts. All kitchen help and cooks are male. The applicant feels he has been unlawfully discriminated against because he is a male.
In our everyday lives, we come across incidents of sexual discrimination at workplace, at home and social circles. It is questionable that how does the ‘glass ceiling effect' fit in gender discrimination. ‘Ceiling' stresses the limitation of upward progress a woman is subjected to whilst ‘glass' refers to the fact that though the limitation is apparently not written in any rule book, it s nevertheless a defeated fact understood by both the sexes.
Based on the employment laws in the United States, discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal and not in keeping with good business practices of efficiency, maximizing resources, and avoiding unnecessary liability
G1 - Guides for Employers
Gender discrimination has many manifestations, including discrimination in hiring, firing, compensation, training, fetal protection policies, client preferences, dress codes and child care leaves. In determining whether employment policies are gender biased, employers have to play their part to look at the obvious, but also look at the subtle bias that may arise from seemingly neutral policies adversely impacting a given gender, such as height and weight requirements. But however, as an employee or employee to be, he or she would have to also understand the requirements of certain industries such as the airlines or modeling.
Where employees must be treated differently, employers are to ensure that the basis for differentiation is grounded in factors not gender based but instead address the actual limitation of the employee or applicant's qualifications. Logistical concerns of bathrooms, lactation rooms and other such matters should be handled in a way that does not overly burden or unnecessarily exclude either gender.
Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The US law quoted in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits an employer from using pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions as the basis for treating an employee differently than any other employee with a short term disability if that employee can perform the job. If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her with the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or unpaid leave. We can see if the employer's reactions towards pregnancy discrimination. For instance, the employer:
- Refuses to hire pregnant applicants
- Terminates an employee on discovering the employee's pregnancy
- Does not provide benefits to pregnant employees on an equal basis with short term disabilities of other employees
- Refuses to allow pregnant employee to continue to work even though the employee wishes to do so and is physically able to do so
- Does not provide the employee with lighter duty if needed, when such accommodations are made for employees with other short term disabilities
- Eliminates the pregnant employee by moving her to a new job title with the same pay, then eliminates the position in a job restructuring or a reduction in force
- Evaluates the employee as not having performed as well or as much as other employees when the basis for the evaluation is the employer's own refusal or hesitation to assign equal work to the employee because the employee is pregnant and the employer feels the need to ‘lighten' the employee's load, though the employee has not requested it
- Does not permit the pregnant employee to be part of the normal circle of office culture so she becomes less aware of matters of importance to the office or current projects, resulting in more likelihood that the employee will not be able effectively to compete with those still in the circle
G2 - Guides for Employers
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, all employers must treat a pregnant employee as an employee who is able to perform the job just as they treat any other employee with a short term disability.
Because of health and other considerations, an employer may use pregnancy as a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) and may have policies excluding or limiting pregnant employees if there is a reasonable justification for such policies.
If there are legitimate bases for treating pregnant employees differently, an employer has ample flexibility to make the necessary decisions, but however, the employer must take the appropriate and correct actions to avoid getting themselves into the hands of the law. Employers are also to ensure that outmode ideas regarding pregnant employees may not be the basis of denying them equal employment opportunities.
Discrimination on the basis of affinity orientation is not included in the Title VII. However, the fact that 20 state laws and the In the district of Columbia, hundreds of local ordinances and thousands of workplaces, including nearly 90% of Fortune 500 companies, include it as part of their employment discrimination laws and policies dictates that they include the coverage here. That is a step that companies have taken to be less discriminative towards the GLBT community. To further improve the discrimination order in the US, an executive order prohibits discrimination in the federal civilian workforce and mandates that security clearances no longer be denied based on affinity orientation.
In Singapore, back in 2003, the then Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, mentioned in his speech during the National Day Rally that “.....it is time that the population understand that some people are born that way. We are born this way and they are born that way, but they are like you and me.” (China's Gay Rights Milestone; Bolivar; 15th June 2009; http://www.chinaspike.com/tag/gay/). More interestingly as quoted from a news report from International Herald Tribune, With its export-driven economy winding down, Singapore's government has quietly lifted restrictions on hiring homosexuals as part of a broader effort to shake the city-state's repressive reputation and foster the kind of lifestyles common to cities whose entrepreneurial dynamism Singapore would like to emulate.
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong initially divulged the policy in an interview with Time magazine's Asia edition, excerpts of which were published this week in the magazine's July 7 issue and carried by news organizations here Friday. “In the past, if we know you're gay, we would not employ you, but we just changed this quietly,” Goh told his interviewer, according to a transcript obtained from Singapore authorities.
Singapore has a vibrant gay and lesbian community. But gay sex is illegal and the government has yet to officially recognize any organization for homosexuals. Despite a proliferation of bars and saunas catering to the gay community, homosexuality still remains largely a taboo. (Quietly, Singapore Lifts Its Ban on Hiring Gays; International Herald Tribune; 04th July 2003; http://www.iht.com/articles/101744.html)
G3 - Guides for Employers
As homosexuality is still considered as a taboo for many nations in the world, there is no reason for this group of people to be discriminated. A giant telco in the US took a brave step to embrace the GLBT community. But wait, they have started this since 1987. And it seems that its employees are thankful to be working for them.
In 1987, a handful of AT&T employees returned home from the March on Washington inspired, energized and convinced that they could change their part of the world....... That they could make AT&T a place that welcomed ALL its employees.
In the mission of LEAGUE, they mentioned that they are to share the AT&T values, they commit themselves to advancing changes that will help people respect and value lesbian, bisexual and gay employees and further AT&T's quest for excellence and customer's satisfaction. Today, there are over 20 LEAGUE chapters across the country that provide its members:
- Advocacy and access to all levels of management
- Professional development courses and conferences
- Workplace community support via electronic mail and regular meetings
- The “Safe Place”â„¢ program
- Help with community service projects
- Social and networking opportunities
- Resources for solving workplace issues
- Opportunities to educate the AT&T community via homophobia workshops and speaking engagements
LEAGUE has become a proud and visible leader in the global business community, offering an example for other gay employee resource groups to follow.
Workplace Issues for Gays and Lesbians
- Non discrimination policies - Corporate anti discrimination policies are a primary concern for lesbians, gays and transgenders who don't have state or local civil rights ordiances protecting them. A basic statement that employees are given the same opportunity to enter, advance, and succeed in an organization sets the tone for how that organization relates to lesbians and gays.
- Bereavement Leave For Domestic Partners - Many corporations have policies granting employees paid leave to attend the funerals of spouses and immediate family members of the family. These policies don't help unmarried domestic partners of gays or straights. This was a particularly important issue, given the devastating impact of the AIDS crisis.
- Vacation Leave Transfer - Another issue is the enormous financial burden on employees with AIDS. Other employees often want to help these employees by donating their earned vacation time. Gay and lesbian groups are lobbying companies to consider allowing employees to offer support in this way. A great many have been successful, and the number continues to grow.
- Benefits for Domestic Partners - Earning healthcare benefits for their partners is an important goal for lesbian and gay employees. They're asking corporations to respect alternative families and recognize their benefit needs, and they argue that the family partner of an unmarried employee is just as likely to need health insurance as is the spouse of a married employee. Gays and lesbians also are asking for parental leave benefits when appropriate. Thousands of companies have granted such benefits, and the number continues to increase. (G.K Kronenberger, “Out of the Closet”, Workforce Magazine, June 1991, p40)
More often than not, whether we realize it or not, unconsciously we are still discriminating people in our daily lives. But as we enter the workforce, the tendency of discriminating is greater as we are made to blend into each other's lifestyle, so that we can work together as a team in an organization. Discrimination doesn't just stop at some of the topics that are discussed above, but somehow, we have to make people out there that it is never good to discriminate, especially for people who are seeking employment. Like others, they too need to have incomes to feed themselves. It is because, due to discrimination, we can be too dependent on other people to assist us in everything. Probably, due to discrimination, some people are just so successful whist the others have to slog.
Nevertheless, is it because of discrimination that workforce in some nations are so in need of expatriates to be the head of the organization? We can see this trend that is happening in Singapore, though. But as quoted recently in a speech by Minister Mentor Goh Chok Tong, Singaporeans are still to be hospitable to foreign expatriates.
So, what can we do about this? Is it merely that we are too dependent on foreign labors or are we being discriminated in our own nation?
- The Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications rule (BFOQ) allows for the hiring of individuals based on race, sex, age, and national origin if these characteristics are bona fide occupational qualifications. (Joseph Devine; Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications; 2010; ezine @rticles; http://ezinearticles.com/?Bona-Fide-Occupational-Qualifications&id=1154745)
- The GLBT community is derived as the Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders. In many parts of the world, this community has set up their own interest groups to help their community in any issues about them and their activities.
- National Day Rally is a speech that is delivered by the Prime Minister of Singapore that tells everyone about Singapore's achievement so far and also its plans next.