Issues Faced With Equal Employment Opportunity

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Equal Employment Opportunity gives all people to have equal opportunity to work and have careers based on their skill, knowledge and abilities and are treated with dignity and respect and not be discriminate. There are many types of discrimination issues in the workplace in an organization. Some of the issues are skin color, religion, gender, race, nationalities and age. This essay will explore more about the age discrimination. According to the dictionary (2010), age discrimination can be defined as an unfair or unequal treatment of an employee by the employer because of their employee's age. Becoming older can be a scary and having to worry about employment when people become older can become even worse. In today's world, age discrimination had become one of the most common issues of discrimination in the workplace where in the past, it was something that should not be worry about. The vulnerability of workers has been common in the workplace for many years, with those classified as older mature workers being the most vulnerable when it comes to mistreatment.

Equal Employment Opportunity will make sure that employees had a fair treatment by their employee. This means that employers cannot discriminate against employees on the base of age, race, gender, religion, color or nationalities. Equal Opportunity also applies to other process in the organization such as recruitment, promotion, transfer, termination, and salary increment, selection for training, job assignments and even working conditions. As differences are often been associated with discrimination, bias, unfair treatment and conflicts, managing diversity in workforce is an important task for managers today. Nowadays, workplace diversity has started to receive wide attention and become an important issue in the business world as diversity in the workplace has increased. Managing diversity in the workplace refers to the ways of managers used in ensuring employees in the organizations who come from different group do not suffer discrimination (UC Regents, 2007).

Employers allowed choosing or rejecting the employees based solely upon their age, unless the job description is of a physical nature that would otherwise pose difficulties for the senior worker. The fact that an older employee can perform the same function as a younger, lesser paid employer precludes personnel selection to let off or retire a worker based merely on age makes older employees are quite able to utilize new technology if they are given proper training and education. The Diversity Council Australia identified key factors influencing older people's decision to remain in the workplace, including job flexibility, hours of work and support for learning and development (Russell 2007).

The issue of age discrimination within the workplace is particularly significant in this day as the increasing of generation reaches the point of being at the receiving end of such employment favoritism (Capowski, 1994, p. 10). Indeed, fresh and lesser paid new hires will continue to filter through the system, but age discrimination will not be the reason for older employees to experience function reduction or selection rejection on account of their age. Capowski (1994, p. 10) also stated that as long as there continues to be a means by which an employee can be educated about new technology, the older worker will have no reason to surrender his or her job. With older employees, companies have come up with the assumption that as a person grows older their performance might fall for a number of reasons and of it is age. Companies also will spend more on older employees because of health reasons. They believe that the older worker will have higher rates of absenteeism and turnover, or generally perform at lower levels than their younger counterparts. These companies hesitate to send employees or older workers to training programs, afraid that they might retire soon.

Understanding the many qualifications of the older worker has taken some time, but many of today's companies are beginning to realize the value of such individuals. Many aging workers are unwilling to retire at the normal age of retirement (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010). Some may have financial reasons, but others just want to continue to work. One problem that may bring up age discrimination cases is the downsizing of companies. As the demographic graph by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010), because of downswings in the economy, companies feel the need to downsize and the older workers tend to be the majority of those let go. It may be through early retirement packages, but oftentimes companies keep the younger workers with less seniority that they may not have to pay as much. Once let go, the older employee often has a much harder time finding a new job.

One good side is that older employees are more experienced, since they might have spent a long time with a company and they have the background and experience that could help in the long run. In comparison to that, older workers have higher salaries and benefits and for that, a lot of companies turn to younger workers because they are cheaper. This is considered wage discrimination. To them promoting an expensive older worker is a waste of time in because that means more responsibility and less productivity. Sometimes older employees find it hard to keep up with technology. They believe in what they were brought up with and that such thing as computers are ineffectual or they are afraid to learn the new technology. There are some advantages of being an older worker. Although the age might affect these people, they generally are better workers than others. They have the faith that work has to be done completely and perfectly to have an effective outcome. A person has to be practical in the work they do. Generally they are more loyal and committed to the organization, especially if they had spent a long time with it. They also believe that by practice a person can accomplish a perfect result.

Alternatively, other organizations prefer younger employees. Younger employees strive for perfection, want to give a good impression, and need to build a new life of their own away from their families. These employees are cheaper and flexible, implying that they are ready to learn anything and everything just to promote their lives. Companies think that the younger the worker the better productivity and work. There are many HRM perspectives that relate to diversity management in organisations. Most of these HRM perspectives lead towards the contention that a successful diversity management policy can lead to a more competitive, functional organisation. In light of the perspectives and rationales discussed in the HRM literature, there a range of implications for HR managers concerning diversity in the workplace.

Secondly, the diverse workforce needs to have the necessary empowerment to influence, or at least have input to organisational decision making (Cunningham & Green, 2007). More strategic implications for diversity management exist that recognise the emergence of Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM). Such implications include building diversity strategies into an overall future success plan, integrating diversity practices with senior management practices and encouraging career development opportunities for all employees (Cunningham & Green, 2007). Ultimately, managing diversity should promote competitive edge in the organisation by recruiting the most appropriate people for the job regardless of their perceived differences (D'Netto & Sohal, 1999).

As one of the so called big four bank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) has responded to the common trends of the Australian workforce with programs to attract and retain a diverse environment that reflects their customer base (ANZ, 2010). An organisation is focused on creating an inclusive culture where all employees are able to contribute, as they believe that diversity and inclusion are essential for high business performance (ANZ, 2010). By managing diversity within the organisation, ANZ is provided with the best talent and a wide variety of experience to achieve success within a global workforce.

These types of organisations have made efforts to create a diverse working environment through varying HRM practices. For example, HRM within ANZ created the "My Difference" survey which surveyed more than 13, 500 employees (ANZ, 2010). Within this survey, HR is able to develop a demographic picture of the workforce and gather feedback on how their employees perceive diversity and inclusion within the organisation. ANZ also founded the Diversity Council, which introduces policies and sponsors events to create a more inclusive culture (ANZ, 2010). The council attempts to increase awareness by supporting events like the Australian Open where it is considered one of the world's premier sporting events (ANZ, 2010). It's known as the Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific where the Australian Open has a strong Australian heritage, as well as having widely recognised appeal as a regional event in New Zealand, the Pacific and Asia. ANZ will sponsor the Australian Open for 3 years from 2010 (ANZ, 2010).

ANZ Bank also had put into operation a 'Career Extension Program' which gives the mature age workers who're thinking of retiring an alternative other than retirement (ANZ, 2010). This initiative offers make it flexible for the employee who can reflect on their retirement plan and stayed with the company ahead of their retirement age. In the words of one ANZ employee, "Age diversity allows all employees to gain an insight into different values or views on many issues and should be strongly encouraged. This will be increasingly important for ANZ regarding the population ages in order to satisfy employees over the long term" (Russel, 2007). The bank also has a few alternative to help mature age employees to reconsider their careers by giving them to be in a part-time job, mentoring or coaching roles or even working from home (Russel, 2007). Russel's case studies also stated that ANZ offers an Alumni program that offered the retired employee or those who are enjoying the break from work to come back to the company.

HR in ANZ has implemented a range of human resource strategies. Disability awareness, plans in the companies outline strategies to increase support and inclusion for customers and staff of the organisation, which include premises being wheelchair accessible (ANZ, 2010). Besides that, in order to promote age balance, mature age employees are offered flexible working conditions to suit their changing lifestyle (ANZ, 2010). Culturally the banks have planned to help indigenous Australians improve their wellbeing and money management skills. ANZ celebrates cultural diversity by holding "Annual Cultural Week" (ANZ, 2010).

"Diversity exists in a group or organisation when its members differ from one another along one or more important dimensions" (Lewis, D. French, E. & Phetmany, T. 2000). Diversity within an organisation can be difficult and expensive to accomplish. Substantial barriers exist in both overcoming laws related to workplace diversity, the actual process of implementing it within an organisation and also the internal characteristics of the individual. The issue of age discrimination within the workplace is particularly significant in this day as the baby boomer generation reaches the point of being at the receiving end of such employment favoritism. Indeed, fresh and lesser paid new hires will continue to filter through the system, but age discrimination will not be the reason for older employees to experience function reduction or selection rejection on account of their age. As long as there continues to be a means by which an employee can be educated about new technology, a tenured or older worker will have no reason to surrender his or her job.

Management of diversity relates to equal employment opportunity, but effective diversity management goes beyond the basic requirements of an equal opportunity workplace (Barrile & Cameron, 2004). It is important for HR to determine an effective diversity management policy to be able to encourage a more diverse workplace. The most important job for senior HR managers is to consider how diversity will benefit the organisation and how to define its role in the context of the organisation (Kreitz, 2008). An organisation's diversity policy should aim to establish an heterogeneous workforce that is able to work to its full capacity in an environment where no member, or for that matter group of members, have an advantage or disadvantage based on their individual differences (Torres & Bruxelles, 1992, as cited in D'Netto & Sohal, 1999).

Diversity management in the workplace has been one of many organisational issues due to factors such as globalization and the emerging age, cultural and individual differences that emerge as a result of this new challenging world. With a good system process by the human resource management, people can see that, how successful companies like Telstra, ANZ bank and many others have become in order to be the leaders in their industry. In recent years, HRM had already achieved both in terms of theory and practice about the importance of managing employee in the organization in order to achieve the company's goals and objectives. Workplace diversity relates to the presence of differences among members of the workforce (D'Netto & Sohal, 1999). By creating diverse workforce organizations, they are able to make the ideas, creativity, and potential contributions inherent in a diverse workforce (Aghazadeh, 2004).

Diversity in the workplace includes culture, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, physical abilities, social class, age, socio-economic status, and religion (Sadri & Tran, 2002). These individual characteristics shape an individual's perception about their environment and how they communicate (Kramar, 1998).The action attempts to monitor and control diversity in an organisation and in doing so, senior management can affect the hiring and promotion of individuals (Sadri & Tran, 2002). An organisation assumes new individuals or groups will adapt to the standard of the organisation, and will not resist due to fears of reverse discrimination (Sadri & Tran, 2002). Valuing diversity can allow an organisation to focus the benefits of the differences, therefore developing an environment where all individuals are valued and accepted (Sadri & Tran, 2002). Those members who feel valued to their organisation tend to be harder working, more involved and innovative (Agahazadeh, 2004).

Valuing Diversity can affect employees' attitudes positively, however resistance can be experienced due to a fear of change and individuals discomfort with differences (Sadri & Tran, 2002.) Finally, managing diversity is when organisations build specific skills and create policies which obtain the best values of each employee, which will create new ways of working together (Sadri & Tran, 2002). It will provide an opportunity for organisations to manage a workforce which highlight both organisational and individual performance, whilst still acknowledging individual needs (Kramar, 1998). Although diversity has always existed in organisations, individuals tend to limit their diversity in order to conform to the rule of the organisation and fit into the stereotype of the typical employee (Kramar, 1998). Mismanagement of diversity as a result of unfavorable treatment can inhibit employees working abilities and motivation, which can lead to a lowered job performance (Aghazadeh, 2004). If an environment works well for employees, diversity will work against the organisation, hence the lack of an enabling environment (Kramar, 1998). Management aims to maximise the contribution of all staff to work towards organisational objectives through forming guiding teams for diversity, training to improve languages and celebrating success.

The current legislation related to workplace diversity essentially creates an environment in which employers cannot recruit purely on the basis of a desired attribute. The main acts concerned are the Racial Discrimination Act (1975), the Sex Discrimination Act (1984), the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act (1984), the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act (1991), the Disability Discrimination Act (1991) and the Workplace Relations Act (1996) (Williams, 2001.) These laws essentially shape a scenario for employees where if a desired attribute is sought after, the job must be made appealing to that particular group of people without impairing the opportunity for any other group to obtain the position under the requirements of the legislation. If a diversity program is unlikely to be profitable it will not be implemented (Bilimoria, Joy & Liang, 2008). The financial benefits such as new customers, better culture and strategic advantage involved in implementing such diversity need to outweigh the costs by gaining diversity at the expense of skill involved in pursuing it.

The HR department within the organisation has a difficult task in convincing senior management that a diversity program can be beneficial to the organisation (D'Netto & Sohal, 1999).The argument often provided by senior management against workplace diversity is that it is disruptive to productivity and causes imbalance in the workplace (D'Netto & Sohal, 1999). As a result, the HR function need to be able to present the many advantages of diversity, and provide strong strategic reasoning to ensure that an effective diversity management is implemented. An organisation may also have barriers in their practices, culture and policies (Bilimoria, Joy, & Liang, 2008). Resolving these issues has benefits for both the legality of the operating of the organisation and the multiplicity of the workforce. If senior management participated in only male orientated social events, such as attending football match, it may alienate women who normally may not participate in such events. Policy can also break both legality and potential for diversity by enforcing requirements such as 10 years continual service to an organisation in order to receive promotion into senior management. This continual service factor discriminates against women who are likely to have children, as it will exclude many from the opportunity to obtain the job.

However, it is the individual differences within each person that provide the biggest challenge to achieving diversity. Individual differences amongst people are a major hurdle to workplace diversity, as most people feel comfortable when working in the same groups (Kreitz, 2008). The presence of various employees outside of their comfort zone can makes people resist embracing the presence of others. Furthermore, research by Kreitz (2008) shows that humans, and organisations as well, are in nature highly resistant to change, further complicating the successful implementation of diversity. Another individual, and highly problematic, barrier to diversity is the language barrier that exists to culturally diverse others. This will prevent the full integration of cultural differences within organisations (Kreitz, 2008). As for that, a good diversity management is really a benefit to the organisation.

The main ingredients that can make or break a company are individuals working as a team in the organization. The key driver for sustaining and developing the skills of existing workers is the presence of a learning orientation in the organisation. (Smith, Oczkowski & Selby 2008). Human resource management (HRM) is a key in having good people to develop, drive and grow the business together to ensure continued success. It is essential to attract and nurture the best talent whose personal values are aligned with the firm's core vision in providing excellent service or quality goods for the customers. In order to run a good business, the human resource management need to ensure that they hire and keep good employees while at the same time must take action against the conflict between the workers and the management in the workplace. The people in the human resource department is responsible for recruiting new staff to replace the one who leave the company and filled the position which already left vacant. They also need to arrange training for the new employees to encourage worker's productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction to the company's business. They also need to provide rewards and benefits towards the staff so that their employees will be encourage giving their best in the workplace.

Diversity in the workplace will not come without challenges. Firstly, the stereotypes people do exist as some people perceive they are better than other people who are different from them in terms of not only age but nationalities, culture, language, abilities, gender and behavior (Hassell & Perrewe 1995). They often view the differences of other people as weaknesses. For example, some managers are unfair in selecting applicants for a vacant position due to the age, religion and cultural differences. They select employees based on subjective values instead of the competence and quality of the applicants. Secondly, diversity in workplace may result in uncomfortable social atmosphere and the minority diverse employees may be excluded from office networking and social events. For example, the older employee will be excluded from young people outing. This normally happen because as for the younger generations, they might think that the older people don't suit their life.

In a diverse workplace, there will be a lot of people with different personality, values, attitudes and experience. When employees cannot resolve and accept these individual differences, conflict will happen. A diverse workforce may also result in communication problems. People from different background can speak different languages, have different religion and culture and hold different value and beliefs. A word or a body language that is showing friendliness may be seen as impoliteness for other group of people. All of these differences may cause conflicts to happen. The family related issue is another challenge faced by the organization. Working women may have difficulties in managing and differentiate their time for work and family. This, in the end, resulted in high absence and high turnover rate. All these resulted in inconsistency in the workforce and will affected the organization's productivity and performance.

In the process of helping diversity in the workplace, the management of the company can start by incorporating the organization's attitude towards diversity into the corporate mission statement, strategic plans and objectives. This can help the organization to build and create its image as an organization that is encouraging and promoting workplace diversity. This can help to attract the diverse groups to apply for jobs in the organization. During the employee recruitment session, tests that are non-bias in the selection and evaluation of the diverse job applicants can be used to avoid bias (Luthans, 2008). The organization can choose to use job-specific tests instead of general aptitude or knowledge tests. For example, an applicant who is applying a vacant position of a data entry clerk can be tested on his or her speed and accuracy in keying in the data without knowing the applicant's gender, age and ethnic background. This test has enabled the management to identify whether the applicant has the necessary skills in order to fit the job well without undergoing any culturally bias test.

Today, companies are going global in order to diversify themselves and attain a competitive advantage. But different countries have their own unique cultures. According to a research done by Brewster and Hegewisch (1994), the globalization of national economies and the evolution of multinational enterprises have resulted in increased awareness and documentation of the differences in how human resources are managed among countries. Cultural issues and national characteristics have to be considered in HRM practices. This implies if a small firm based in Australia wants to enter the US, Europe or Chinese market, they need to consider the national culture within these countries and accordingly plan out their recruitment and selection process.

This essay can be concluded that diversity management in HRM is considered as effective tool for competitive advantage. In today's world big companies have been successful in managing their human capital effectively and managed to become leaders within their industry. There is no doubt that people are the strength of any organization. It is a clear indication that for a company to be successful, it not only needs to invest in technologies but also in human capitals.

Workplace diversity has indeed become an important issue for businesses today. In order for an organization to compete in today ever demanding business world, building competitive advantage is an element that organizations cannot afford to overlook. By encouraging workplace diversity, organizations stand on a better position to compete in the business market that has intense competition as diverse workforce is able to provide better solutions and business strategies to the organizations. A diverse workforce is also able to serve and satisfy the diverse consumers' needs and wants, which in turn will be profitable to the organization. Therefore, introducing and encouraging workplace and also have a high-quality of diversity management can play a crucial role in determining an organization's future.