Issues facing the equal employment opportunity


According to De Cieri and Kramar (2005, P.89) Equal employment opportunity is a government law to ensure that all individuals have an opportunity for employment, regardless of characteristics such as gender, colour, race, region, national origin or disability. Actually the idea of equal employment opportunity is now more than 25 years old. The areas to be concern including discrimination matters, sexual harassment and affirmative action issues. Any organisation will be managed according to a regime where the best person for the job in terms of promotion, opportunity for training or transfer, irrespective of group identity.

According to Lynne and Ruth(2000, p.23) Discrimination occur when an employee suffers from unfair treatment due to employee's race, gender, colour, religion, disabled, national origin or other legally protected qualities. Discrimination results in and supports inequalities. Due to this skills and competencies cannot be developed, rewards to work are denied and a sense of embarrassment, disappointment and powerlessness takes over. Discrimination effects in the work related areas like recruiting, hiring, job evaluations training and compensations irrespective of skills and qualification.

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In United States R. Roosevelt Thomas developed a process to the problem of inequality, affirmative actions and discrimination issues, that Process called as managing diversity - a process of managing employee's similarities and differences that is built on a set of values, which identifies that the differences between employees are a potential strength for the organisation. The process of managing diversity creates an environment which allows employees to contribute to organisation goals and personal growth as well. Managing diversity gathers enormous popularity in the United States and it eventually developed in Australia and United Kingdom. But managing diversity has not yet recognised in Australia, even they takeaway from the human-rights. Australia came up with the approach of anti-discrimination in the civil rights 45 years ago.

Anti-discrimination Law in the workplace:

According to Sarah (1999, p.213) The Australian anti-discrimination laws are globally built on an individual complaint model which is trying to redress for an aggrieved individual who has suffered discrimination because of some group characteristic. These group characteristics may include gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, colour, age, mental or physical disability, religion, physical features, trade union activity, criminal record, HIV/ AIDS status, breast feeding, sexuality, transgender status, political opinion, caring responsibility, etc. Two types of discrimination are recognised in the various Australian Acts.

According to Erica and Glenda (2009, p.2) there are direct discrimination and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination is someone treated less favourably on the basis of a particular characteristic than someone with a dissimilar characteristic in circumstances that are considerably the same. For example employer refuses to promote women into management roles. Indirect Discrimination is compulsory requirement is attached to a job, which has nothing to do with the real performance of the job role, which would stop significant proportions of particular groups.

Age discrimination

We live in a world that is largely passionate with appearance and giving high priority to young and youth. These values also lead to systematic stereotyping of, and discrimination against, people simply because of their age (mature age). This is called ageism. The unfortunate things about stereotypes like, 'mature people are slow to pick up technology', is not true. But they often accepted as 'reality'. Ageism strongly implies a message of reject and of burden. In employment recruitments people over a certain age being ignored. Recruiting people saying that they are too old and should move away to give the chance to young people, even recruiters are overlooked for training and development because they are too old to pick it up and they are going to retire soon as well. These types of discriminatory practices are not only unfair; they are unlawful and can have reflective psychological and social impacts. As a result, mature workers may no longer feel welcome in the work place, which leads to the 'forced' retirements (Elizabeth, 2010).

The Age Discrimination Act (ADA) is a federal discrimination law to reduce the unlawful age discrimination cases. HR professionals should mind these federal discrimination laws when recruiting the people. Some of the offences are listed below which fallen under age discrimination act.

According to Federal discrimination Law (ADA, 2004) 'It is an offence to publish or display an advertisement or display which indicates an intention to unlawfully discriminate on the basis of age';

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'It is an offence ('victimisation') to intentionally cause detriment to a person because that person has made a complaint of discrimination or has taken part in discrimination proceedings'.

Disability discrimination

According to Jessica (2009, p.359) Disability discrimination becomes to be something that continues to attract a growing number of complaints. To prevent these cases federal government passed Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995. Section 4 of the DDA makes unlawful acts of discrimination and harassment against a disabled person in relation to employment. This applies to the recruitment and selection process as well as to those that the employer already employs. Examples of harassment on disability are, embarrassing comments or insults or actions about a person's disability, comments or actions which create aggressive situation, insulting behaviour with staff having intellectual disabilities.

Gender discrimination

According to Sargeant (2005, p.22) 'Men and women, or black and white, or young and elder are need to treated like opposite sides of the coin. Each and every one treated to be in the same way. Treating men more likely than women discriminates towards women. Treating women more likely than men discriminates towards men'. So every HR professional should follow the equal employment opportunity law with minding the above statement. An example for how the HR professional thinks about gender discrimination.

According to Lalith, Tania and Alice (2008, P.1313) overall wage return to an additional year of labour market experience is higher for men than women. However, the return on tenure is significantly lower for women than for men, but the return on experience is higher for women than men. These findings are constant with the hypothesis that women comparing to men might be less interacted to jobs due to life cycle dealings like marriage and pregnancy. Women are more likely quit their jobs compare to men. Because of this men receive comparatively more company provided training than women, and that a much higher fraction of women expect to be out of the labour force at age of 35 because of family related reasons. From all of the above we can points to the fact that women are definitely less attached to their employers than men. This paper also suggest various research directions like, how do investments and the returns to familiarity differ across women who expect to working in the labour market verses those who do not? Do women expect long job durations practice higher returns to tenure? Answers to these questions could help to clarify whether the observed gender discrimination on the part of employers.


IBM is a leading technology and services organization of nearly 400,000 highly skilled professionals working in 77 countries, helping to solve some of the world's biggest problems. Widely recognised as an employer of choice, IBM holds numerous awards for its industry-leading employment practices and polices. IBM is a multinational corporation, its business strategy and change is part of IBM global business services. So this could be the great example to explain how EEO supports business strategy. IBM strategy and change practice fuses business strategy with technology insight to help organisations develop, align, and implement their business vision across four strategic dimensions: business strategy, operating strategy, organization change strategy and technology strategy, to drive innovation and growth.

Equal employment opportunity in IBM:

According to Katrina (2007, p.1 of 2) 'IBM take positive actions to ensure equal opportunity in the conduct of business activities without regard to gender, race, colour, national origin, sexual preference, marital status, pregnancy, potential pregnancy, age, disability, religious belief, family responsibilities, ethical belief, employment status and any other factors that are not related to individual ability, job performance and potential to develop in the work place'.

'One Team - Many People' is IBM diversity, equal employment opportunity, anti discrimination and anti-harassment policy for IBM. All the employees are expected to stand for this policy and all relevant laws on the subject, to support IBM's dedication to workforce diversity, to support the spirit of EEO, and to make sure that their work place is free of discrimination and harassment. This policy is based on sound business judgement and a fundamental respect for the individuals who are working for IBM.

Success for any company lies on the ability to manage a diverse body of talent that can get new ideas, perspectives and views to their work. The challenge and problems faced of workplace diversity can be curved into a strategic organizational asset if the company is able to capitalize on diverse talents. Through the mixture of talents of diverse cultural backgrounds, genders, lifestyles and ages, a company can respond to business opportunities more quickly, creatively and effectively, especially in the global arena. If the company environment does not support diversity widely then it is in the risk of losing talents to competitors. IBM is in the position of attracting the talents from other companies, because work place diversity and EEO are the one of the business strategy for IBM. The following shows how IBM merges these things into their business.

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As a part of work place diversity IBM forms the Diversity council which ensures that IBM visibly encourages and value the contribution and differences of employees from various backgrounds. Diversity contact officers are conduits on information relating to diversity, and are treated as work/life balance coaches and help to integrate people with a disability into the IBM workforce. Diversity contact officers include men, women, and people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds like people with a disability and people who are gay or lesbian, transgender or bisexual. It encourages networking groups that promote and nurture diversity.

Networking groups are people with disability, women in technology, part time and job share, people of different cultural backgrounds. IBM encourages networking events that are open to all employees. These events results employees the opportunity to meet other colleagues directly and able them to learn more about current diversity programmes.

IBM supports and encourages and shares with external organisations as well to achieve equal employment opportunity, this is very broad side of IBM, which is participating very actively towards anti- discrimination and anti-harassment. IBM is the member and participates in

Equal employment opportunity network

Diversity council Australia

The national diversity think tank

NEEOPA- NSW EEON practitioners association

Work/life association

The Australian employers network on disability

Intergenerational diversity network

IBM's strategy on the inclusion of people with a disability:

IBM's strategy aims to help disabled employ and retain people with a disability. This program includes specific plans that will help to increase the number of people with a disability employed at IBM, and make an internal capability and taking the people with a disability within the IBM workforce.

Women in the workforce:

IBM recruited first professional women globally in 1935, three decades before the equal pay act. IBM's founder T.J. Watson Sr. promised women "the same kind of work for equal pay." IBM technical women are some of the most accomplished people in the information technology industry today and they need more of them.

IBM women run volunteer programs in IBM that encourage female mentoring, assist women to achieve a work/life balance and reach down to young girls to fill the pipeline. IBM encourages careers in IT and engineering to female high school students by sponsoring and participating in school speakers programs at universities. The Go Girl, Go For IT is also a program started in Melbourne in 2000 to encouraging more school aged girl to take up IT. This program gives them a positive movement in the girls. So Go Girl, Go For IT program conducted every year in different places to consider a career in IT. In this way IBM encourages equal employment opportunity in all possible ways. IBM Australia is recognised nationally as a leader in diversity, receiving awards from government and professional groups for its achievement in EEO. IBM recognised and awarded for employer of choice for women for 7 times continuously.

IBM Dealing with competitive challenges

Four competitive challenges that companies are facing they are challenges of globalization, the challenges of HR innovation, the challenges of sustainability and the challenges of attracting and retaining people. These four competitive challenges increase the importance of human resource management practises.

The challenge of globalisation

The business world is changing more rapidly and more unpredictably than ever. Markets are expanding world wide, creating economic interdependencies, global operations, workforce mobility, and global regulations. To stay competitive, your business needs to move with the changes and attain the speed; flexibility to deal whatever the market does next on a worldwide base. Globalisation is a main competitive challenge, which is influencing human resource management. Majority of the big companies merging to international world economy and markets have internationalised. Companies are finding that to survive, they must compete in international market. Most successful and admired companies in the world have not only created multinational corporations but they have created organizations with workforces and corporate cultures that reveal the characteristics of the global markets in which they operate. An example for this is IBM. A key priority for this multinational corporation is traditional business objectives, such as customer focus, innovation and customer satisfaction. Successful strategy for this company is 'think globally and act locally'. They believe that employees are the key to success translates into human resource practices, including rewarding employee performance, measuring employee satisfaction; they follow the strategy for employee selection process, promotions in the company and investing employee development.

Science globalization is a strategic programme; it does not require a separate business case. It means that you need a strategy and an IT infrastructure which support your global business goals and eliminate barriers that you from maximizing the value of e-business globalization. These include:

Business process, traditions and conventions that differ from country to country.

Human factors, such as resistance to changes in communication and technology, and cultural and language hurdles.

Perspective shifts in the corporate society that may be necessary to do business globally.

Technology issues, including worldwide standardization, such as an overarching infrastructure for within-entity communication, supply chain, customer relation management, enterprise resource planning and business integration.

From IBM prospective globalization is transparent to the users. IBM given this reality to their clients, it is very important that globalization is not considered as an option, but rather as a strategic imperative. Here IBM gives the importance of software globalization. Web pages are a great example for software globalization. For example, the BBC World service home page, the visitor is offered 43 varieties of languages in which to view the site. The user can choose the language of choice, by considering that visitor browser software and operating system are globalized, and that they have made the appropriate local selection.

Challenges of HR innovation

HR relies on the effective management of employees, their knowledge and work system. Innovations in HR strategies and practices are essential for the changes in the context of work and employment. HR system is to make a valuable contribution to individual employees and to organization. It is clear that people agenda is top of mind among CEOs, giving HR an exclusive, unprecedented, and long-overdue chance to demonstrate its value to the organization. As business leaders manage challenges and change, growth opportunities, and ever-evolving workforce requirements, HR can take advantage of this chance to fulfil its role as a fundamental force in corporate culture. Aligning human capital strategy with business strategy is important to driving shareholders value and improving overall business performance. To ensure HR initiatives are aligned with business strategy, organizations must systematically describe and determine their workforce investment in order to get better decision making and management strategies. Evaluating and understanding the requirements of the workforce allows organizations to improve overall HR operations, processes, and service delivery while helping the HR function to create positioning among people, program, and organizational development strategies. HR should take the lead role in managing change like use of teams to perform work, changes in the nature of managerial work, changes in company structure, availability of information regarding company's human resources, challenges of sustainability and practicing high performance work systems.

IBM HR strategy and transformation services enable company to develop and sustain a high-performance human resources function that goes beyond the delivery of cost-effective administrative services to produce the strategic insights the business requires. Every company has its own human capital needs and issues, and every company has its own culture and way of doing business.

IBM concentrates on five basic areas for effective retained HR organization plan.

1, Organizational strategy a statement of what the retained HR organization will do how it will do it, and how it will deal with other parts of the business.

2, Staff capabilities what skills are required to reach the organizational strategy, what are the present skill gaps and how these gaps will be covered.

3, Human capital data what types of data the retained HR organization will need access to in order to get its objectives; how and when that data will be delivered.

4, Alignment with business what alterations and concerns to the engaged organization need to be made to replicate the company's business goals, objectives and its corporate culture.

5, Timing what needs to happen, in what order, and when.


Sustainability has largely been considering as part of corporate social responsibility, particularly related to the impact a company has on its environment. Broad view of sustainability is the capability of a company to survive and succeed in active competitive business environment. Depends on the company effectiveness and competitiveness determines whether the company satisfies the needs of stakeholders. Sustainability has the characteristics like ability to deal with economic and social changes, participate in responsible and ethical practices, and to react to monitoring and evaluation of company practices. To sustain in the competitive market every company should look at their Customer service and quality, quality management, use of employees' expertise, focus on process as well as results, and feedback.

Competing by attracting and retaining people:

Australia is one of the countries where shortage of skilled people because of unparalleled economic conditions for long time. This leads to increasing importance on the role of human resource management to attract and retain employees as a source of competitive advantage. Broad approaches to attracting and retaining employees are based in concepts like employer choice and employee engagement. The people who are looking for new job opportunities, they are concerning about reputation of the company, work situation, support compositions and facilities, recognition of employees for their efforts and personal growth. If the companies implemented these approaches, those companies attract more job applicants than other companies.

IBM is a multinational corporation with its great value to the employees, great recognition for the employee efforts. They announce the awards and promotions according to the performance of the employees. IBM offers competitive benefits and also an industry leading practice of performance based increments for all employees. IBM only gives the power to the employees to plan their own workday, and own life, according to own unique styles and needs. By joining with IBM you can learn new skills, work across different levels or move into new challenges. Even it's possible with IBM award-winning, personalized professional development and leadership training. On average each IBM employee gaining the benefit of more than 60 hours of development and leadership training per year. So IBM is successfully overcome the four competitive challenges and there is a constant growth in the progress of stakeholders and IBM itself.


Equal employment opportunity law ensures all individuals to get employment regarding their ability and skills only. This federal law make sure all the organizations to support anti-discrimination and anti-harassment at the work place. 'One Team - Many People' is IBM diversity. IBM is in the point of attracting the talents from other companies, because work place diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity are the one of the business strategy for IBM. IBM is a multinational corporation which is successfully dealing with the competitive challenges like globalisation, HR innovation, sustainability, and attracting and retaining the people.