Unit 3: Business and its Internal Constituencies Chapter 4: Ethics of job discrimination Lesson 16: Nature of job discrimination We often find people debating on these words "justice," "equality," "racism,""rights," and "discrimination". Till now we have discussed in depth the words “justice,”“equality” and “rights”. In this lecture we will discuss about “racism” and“discrimination”. Lets understand what is the hue and cry all about.Points to be covered in this lecture:• Racism• Discrimination; types of discriminationFirst of all lets understand the meaning of these words:Racism: the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members ofother races OR,Discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race.Discrimination: The root meaning of the term "discriminate" is "to distinguish one ob-ject from another," a morally neutral and not necessarily wrongful activity. However, inmodern usage the term is not morally neutral. It is usually intended to refer to thewrongful act of distinguishing illicitly among people not on the basis of individualmerit but on the basis of prejudice or some other invidious or morally reprehensibleattitude. This morally charged notion of "invidious" discrimination, as it applies toemployment, is what is at issue in this chapter.In this sense to discriminate in employment is to make an adverse decision (or set ofdecisions) against employees (or prospective employees) who belong to a certain classbecause of morally unjustified prejudice toward members of that class.Discrimination in employment thus, must involve three basic elements: 1. First, it is a decision against one or more employees (or prospective employees) that is not based on individual merit such as the ability to perform a given job, seniority, or other morally legitimate qualifications. 2. Second, the decision derives solely or in part from racial or sexual prejudice, from false stereotypes, or from some other kind of morally unjustified attitude against members of the class to which the employee belongs.
3. Third, the decision (or set of decisions) has a harmful or negative impact on the interests of the employees, perhaps costing them jobs, promotions, or better pay.Types of discrimination: • Racism • On the basis of Gender • On the basis of Age • On the basis of Religion • On the basis of disability • On the basis of National origin.Present scenario of Job Discrimination Although many more women and minorities are entering formerly maledominated jobs, they still face problems that they would characterize as form ofdiscrimination. In 1993, for example, ABC sent a male and female, Avnish and Neelam,on an "experiment" to apply in person for jobs several companies were advertising.Avnish and Neelam were both trim, neatly dressed college graduates in their 20s, withidentical resumes indicating management experience. Unknown to the companies,however, both were secretly wired for sound and had hidden cameras. One companyindicated in its help-wanted ad that it had several open positions. But when the companyrecruiter spoke with Neelam, the only job he brought up was a job answering phones. Afew minutes later, the same recruiter spoke with Avnish. He was offered a managementjob. When interviewed afterwards by ABC, the company recruiter indicated that hewould never want a man answering his phone. Another company had advertisedpositions as territory managers for lawn-care services. The owner of that company gaveNeelam a typing test, discussed her fiances business with her, and then offered her a jobas a receptionist at $6 an hour. When the owner interviewed Avnish, however, he gavehim an aptitude test, chatted with him about how he kept fit, and offered him a job asterritory manager paying $300 to $500 a week. When the owner was later interviewedby ABC he comments that women "do not do well as territory managers, which involvessome physical labor." According to the owner he had also hired one other woman as areceptionist and had hired several other males as territory managers. The experience of young Avnish and Neelam suggest that sexual discrimination isalive and well. Similar experiments suggest that racial discrimination also continues tothrive. In 1993 researchers at the Urban Institute published a study in which they pairedseveral young black men with similar young white men, matching them in openness,energy level, articulateness, physical characteristics, clothing, and job experience. In the same way, young Hispanic males fluent in English were matched with youngAnglo males. Each member of each pair was trained and coached in mock interviews to
act exactly like the other. Each member of each pair then applied in person for the samejobs, ranging from general laborer to management trainee in manufacturing, hotels,restaurants, retail sales, and office work. In spite of the fact that all were equally qualifiedfor the same jobs, blacks and Hispanics were offered jobs 50 percent fewer times than theyoung white males. The root meaning of the term "discriminate" is "to distinguish one object fromanother," a morally neutral and not necessarily wrongful activity. However, in modemusage the term is not morally neutral: It is usually intended to refer to the wrongful act ofdistinguishing illicitly among people not on the basis of individual merit but on the basisof prejudice or some other invidious or morally reprehensible attitude. This morallycharged notion of "invidious" discrimination, as it applies to employment, is what is atissue in this chapter. In this sense to discriminate in employment is to make an adversedecision (or set of decisions) against employees (or prospective employees) who belongto a certain class because of morally unjustified prejudice toward members of that class. Discrimination in employment thus, must involve three basic elements. First, it is adecision against one or more employees (or prospective employees) that is not based onindividual merit such as the ability to perform a given job, seniority, or other morallylegitimate qualifications. Second, the decision derives solely or in part from racial orsexual prejudice, from false stereotypes, or from some other kind of morally unjustifiedattitude against members of the class to which the employee belongs. Third, the decision(or set of decisions) has a harmful or negative impact on the interests of the employees,perhaps costing them jobs, promotions, or better pay.Forms of Discrimination: Intentional and Institutional Aspects A helpful framework for analyzing different forms of discrimination can beconstructed by distinguishing the extent to which a discriminatory act is intentional andisolated (or non institutionalized) and the extent to which it is unintentional andinstitutionalized 1. Isolated and Intentional Discrimination A discriminatory act may be part of the isolated (non institutionalized) behavior ofa single individual who intentionally and knowingly discriminates out of personalprejudice. In the ABC "experiment" described, for example, the attitudes that the maleinterviewer is described as having may not be characteristic of other companyinterviewers: His behavior toward female job seekers may be an intentional but isolatedinstance of sexism in hiring. 2. Institutionalized and intentional discrimination Second, a discriminatory act may be part of the routine behavior of aninstitutionalized group, which intentionally and knowingly discriminates out of thepersonal prejudices of its members. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, is an organization
that historically has intentionally institutionalized discriminatory behavior, and, in India,for example, The Muthut Finance group prefers Keralites for any post in their company. 3. Isolated and Unintentional Discrimination Third, an act of discrimination may be part of the isolated (non institutionalized)behavior of a single individual who unintentionally and unknowingly discriminatesagainst someone because he or she unthinkingly adopts the traditional practices andstereotypes of his or her society. If the interviewer quoted in the ABC experimentdescribed, for example, acted unintentionally, then he would fall into this third category. 4. Institutionalized and Unintentional discrimination Fourth, a discriminatory act may be part of the systematic routine of a corporateorganization or group that unintentionally incorporates into its formal institutionalizedprocedures practices that discriminate against women or minorities. The two companiesexamined in the ABC; experiment, for example, described organizations in which thebest-paying jobs are routinely assigned to men and the worst-paying jobs are routinelyassigned to women, on the stereotypical assumption that women are fit for some jobs andnot for others. There may be no deliberate intent to discriminate, but the effect is thesame: a racially or sexually based pattern of preference toward white males. Historically, there has been a shift in emphasis from seeing discrimination primarilyas an intentional and individual matter, to seeing it as a systematic and not necessarilyintentional feature of institutionalized corporate behavior, and back again, in somequarters, to seeing it as an intentional and individual matter. During the early 1960s,employment discrimination was seen primarily as an intentional, calculated actperformed by one individual on another. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forexample, seems to have had this notion of discrimination in mind when it stated:It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer (1) To fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individuals race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) To limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for em- ployment in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an em- ployee because of such individuals race, color, sex, or national origin However, in the late 1960s, the concept of discrimination was enlarged to includemore than the traditionally recognized intentional forms of individual discrimination. Bythe early 1970, the term "discrimination" was being used regularly to include disparitiesof minority representation within the ranks of a firm, regardless of whether or not the
disparity had been intentionally created. An organization was engaged in discriminationif minority group representation within its ranks was not proportionate to the groupslocal availability. The discrimination would be remedied when the proportions ofminorities within the organization were made to match their proportions in the availableworkforce by the use of "affirmative action" programs.Overview: Racism refers to the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races. Discrimination (employment) is the wrongful act of distinguishing illicitly among people not on the basis of individual merit but on the basis of prejudice or some other invidious or morally reprehensible attitude.ActivityDiscuss in general the qualities that make a person suitable for a job. Why do you thinkwe see job discrimination?