Gender has always been and continues to be an emotive issue in the Canadian workplace. It is important to note that the main contributing factor to the debate is the fact that women have always felt marginalized and dominated by their male colleagues in the workplace (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). In the recent past, corporate leaders have identified gender bias to be one of the factors that contributes negatively to corporate performance. As a result, they have put in place mechanisms to ensure that women have equal opportunities to work and succeed in the corporate sector. These changes have benefited women in the sense that companies are now hiring women and giving them equal opportunities with their male colleagues to rise through the corporate ladder. This paper will explore gender issues in human resource management.
The corporate environment in Canada is plagued by one major challenge it lacks gender diversity. The lack of gender diversity in the work place means in most organizations there are more men than women. The underrepresentation of women can be attributed to a myriad of factors such as workplace culture, lack of visible female role models, family obligations and insufficient support to facilitate the career development of women (Bolman & Deal, 2017). The lack of role models is attributed to the fact that most organizational leaders are men and they occupy the senior management levels. In most cases, men prefer mentoring other men in the workplace due to the fact that mentor mentee relationship requires some personal connection and attachment. Therefore, men dread to serve as female mentors since they require a close relationship with their female mentee. As a result, they fear that having a close relationship with a female mentee since the relationship may be termed as inappropriate.
As mentioned earlier, women are underrepresented in leadership roles in the corporate sector. This is astonishing since in todays world women have made great strides to equip themselves with skills that enable them to compete in the competitive work environment. Traditional gender roles have contributed heavily to this phenomenon since men have always been viewed as natural leaders. (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014)Moreover, senior level management positions in the corporate sector require the individuals entrusted with the positions to put in a lot of time and effort. For instance, they may be required to put in extra work hours and travel extensively (Snell, Morris & Bohlander, 2015). Women may find it difficult to undertake such activities due to the fact that they have responsibilities at home to fulfill.
In the work place, both women and men encounter some degree of harassment (Bolman & Deal, 2017). Women tend to be the main victims of work place harassment. Sexual exploitation is the main form of sexual harassment that is meted out towards women. Women tend to be preyed upon by sexual predators in the workplace that are only out to satisfy their selfish interests. The perpetrators of these heinous acts tend to be men in senior management positions. They usually threaten the women that they will be fired if they speak out about this violence or offer enticements such as promotions to hook the victims to the sexual exploitation. There are few cases of sexual exploitation reported by men, though instances of them being sexually exploited are rarely reported.
Employers are seeking to ensure that there is gender diversity in their workplaces. Gender diversity plays a crucial role in determining the success of any organization since it has an effect on staff morale. Research has shown that staff morale is highest in workplaces where the number of female employees is almost equal to the number of male employees (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). However, in workplaces dominated by one gender the staff morale tends to decrease. To ensure that there is diversity in the employers have put in measures to ensure that biases against women in their workplaces are drastically reduced. They have also made sure that decisions on hiring of new employees are done based on merit and not gender. This has created a level playing field for men and women meaning that they can get jobs as long as they are competent enough to handle the jobs.
Traditionally, women have shunned male dominated careers such as engineering. As a result, these careers have ended up being male dominated making it difficult for women who choose a career in these male dominated fields to occupy leadership positions (Bakke, Macey,& Saks, 2015). Women working in these male dominated fields have begun carrying out awareness campaigns in schools and institutions of higher learning to encourage girls to aspire to join such careers. The aim of carrying out awareness campaigns to encourage more women to work in fields traditionally considered to be reserved for men is aimed at improving gender diversity in those careers. It is also important to note that women working in male dominated careers are being encouraged not to shy away from seeking leadership roles. This is due to the fact that inevitably through sheer persistence and showing that they have something to offer they will inevitably get a leadership role (Snell, Morris & Bohlander, 2015).
Despite the fact that there are numerous challenges that women encounter in the workplace if the right strategies are adopted it is possible to find a solution to these problems. As mentioned earlier, there exist sexual predators in the workplace who prey on unsuspecting women. This problem can be mitigated by ensuring that internal channels are put in place for women to report perpetrators of sexual violence within the organization. Once a complaint is raised about the behavior of a particular employee the employee ought to be investigated to ascertain whether the claim is legitimate or not. If the investigations reveal that the employee had committed a sexual offence they should be laid off and reported to the authorities.
The lack of role models to mentor female staff has been termed as the reason why there are few women in senior management (Marchington, Wilkinson, Donnelly & Kynighou, 2016). In most organizations, this is a worry some trend since women are equally capable of being leaders just like their male colleagues. To ensure that this talent does not go to waste organizations should put in place measures aimed at identifying talent irrespective of gender. After identifying the talented individuals in the organization who have the potential to become future leaders, the organization may enroll them into leadership programs to equip them with the appropriate knowledge and skills required for them to become leaders.
Moreover, through leadership programs women get to learn about different strategies and action plans that can be customized to work in the organization. This serves to make them better and increase their chances of career advancement since they are able to take small steps aimed at improving themselves such as practicing what they have learnt in their current role.
The role of management in any organization is to set the pace for the employees to follow. This involves coming up with a companys vision as well as coming up with strategies to make the vision a reality. In order to actualize the vision, the input of employees is required since they are the ones who actually interact with the organizations clientele and ensure that the day to day operations of the company are running smoothly (Bakke, Macey,& Saks, 2015). It is for this reason that the leaders in an organization have the interests of their employees at heart. They should understand that their female employees are fundamentally different from their male employees. For instance, they should understand that the career path of female employees is fundamentally different from that of their male counterparts. This is due to the fact that while men tend to have linear career paths the career paths of women is nonlinear since it is affected by factors such as maternity leaves and family engagements (Marchington, Wilkinson, Donnelly & Kynighou, 2016).
In conclusion, the workplace is evolving and organizations need to adjust to ensure that the interests of their workforce are catered for. It is for this reason that they should strive to eliminate any gender biases that may already exist in their organizations to ensure that it does not affect staff morale. Moreover, organizations should also strive to recruit from the best talent irrespective of gender to aid in its efforts to actualize its goals and objectives.
Armstrong, M., & Taylor, S. (2014). Armstrong's handbook of human resource management practice. Kogan Page Publishers.
Bakker, S. L. A. A. B., Macey, J. A. G. W. H., & Saks, A. M. (2015). Employee engagement, human resource management practices and competitive advantage. Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance.
Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2017). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. John Wiley & Sons.
Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A., Donnelly, R., & Kynighou, A. (2016). Human resource management at work. Kogan Page Publishers.
Snell, S. A., Morris, S., & Bohlander, G. W. (2015). Managing human resources. Nelson Education.
Wilton, N. (2016). An introduction to human resource management. Sage.
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