Sample Business Studies Research Paper on Employment Fairness

Employment Fairness

Introduction

Employment fairness entails treating people in a manner in which they deserve to be treated, particularly in the workplace (Brander, 2014). Thus, equality and fairness are necessary in ensuring that all people in the workplace are treated in a better manner without any form of discrimination. According to the Government of Canada (2007), employment standards have been established by the law with the purpose of guaranteeing rights in the work place.  Some of the employment rights that have been protected by employment legislation are such as termination notice and termination pay, hours of work and overtime pay, family medical leave, public holidays, personal emergency leave, vacation pay, and parental leave and pregnancy leaves. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) contends that it was originally believed that equality in the workplace could be realized by giving men and women the same opportunities (CIDA, 2010). Nonetheless, this has not led to the same and equal results and employers have been encouraged to differently address the concept of equality such as through different treatment to realized similar results because they have been discriminated for a long period of time.

The employment sector has been linked with a wide range of issues in recent years, especially with regard to fairness. The issues encompass the need for gender equality in hiring and compensation. The lack of fairness is perceived to favour the male employees, as evidenced by the number of men in senior management positions in organizations across the world (Figar, 1997). For example, based on statistics by the Galarneau (2011), there were 48% women of the employed labour force in 2009, but only about 0.32% held executive and senior management positions, in spite their qualifications. The same scenario is reflected in wage and salary levels since men earn more than women despite possessing similar qualifications and working in related fields. The importance of looking into employment fairness is that it shows the disparities between the two genders. For instance, in spite of the standards of employment and laws enacted to protect the welfare of employees and protect women from gender and sex discrimination, women continue to earn less for same job compared to men (Rasch & Szypko, 2013). Such discrepancies can be resolved through the development and implementation of a new policy alternative that focuses on employment fairness in the workplace. 

Over the years, scholars have focused on gender equality to bridge the gap between wages for male and female workers in the same sector and level of employment. It has been found that men are indeed paid more than women despite performing the same tasks. In addition, promotions in the workplace tend to favour men. Most organizations claim that men are more effective leaders because they possess better negotiation skills than women (Darity & Mason, 1998). Employment unfairness, thus, appears to be inclined towards gender differences.

Another significant illustration of the need for employment fairness is commonly observed workplace harassment. In most cases, women are the victims of a wide range of hostilities in the employment sector, and their male colleagues are the perpetrators. Reporting cases such as sexual assault often ends up with women incrimination instead of punishment of the culprits (Britt, 2008). Even though there are several forums in which women empowerment and the importance of fairness in the employment sector are discussed, female workers continue to suffer from the consequences of unfair practices. Rasch and Szypko (2013) fairness in employment in terms of employee’s compensation plays an important role in the production and retention in the workplace. Similarly, Wiley (2011) established pay fairness was an important requirement for employees because it is related to work and life outcomes, such as life satisfaction, physical and psychological health, employee engagement, work stress, and turnover intentions.

Employment fairness in the workplace can be promoted through policy change to ensure that women and vulnerable groups are treated equally by valuing the differences and similarities, and their varying roles. 

Justification of Area of Study

The topic about employment fairness is not new and it is important to this paper because it focuses on some of the obstacles that hinder realization of equitable and fair labor force. In this paper, factors that contribute to employment unfairness and ways for ensuring equality in the workplace have been examined based on current reports related to employment unfairness in Canada.

In the last 50 years, women have shattered the gender barriers in the workplace and now female employees can now get employed in traditionally male-dominated fields (Homewood Health, 2010). In spite of these achievements, there are still gender inequalities and unfairness in the Canadian workforce. For instance, women still continue to get paid less in comparison to their male counterparts (Homewood Health, 2010). The gap between male and females has still remained large and it has barely changed over the years since the mid-1990s. Homewood Health (2010) noted that when executive leadership teams are explored, only a few female leaders are found. Furthermore, 40% of the Top 500 Canadian companies have been reported to have no single woman on their management positions, especially boardrooms. Thus, employment unfairness is a major issue in Canada, regardless of available employment equality acts that protects the welfare of employees. According to a Portrait of Canada’s Labour Force report in 2009 women made up 48% of the employed labour force, but only about 0.32% (26,000) of them hold senior management positions (Galarneau, 2011).

Contrary, there are more than 8.8 million men who are part of the Canada’s workforce, and only 0.62% (56,200 women) holds executive ranks (Galarneau, 2011). Based on Statistics Canada produced in between 1987 and 2009, there has been an increase in the number of women holding jobs middle management. However, the increase has been minimal given the rate of transition for more than 20 years has been 4% (Portrait of Canada’s Labour Force (2011). Nonetheless, the Conference Board of Canada (2012) predicted that more than 151 years will have to be passed before Canada can have gender equality in the management positions. Thus, horizontal fairness and equality are missing in the Canada’s workforce. Moreover, the Canada’s Labour Code is only applicable to 8% of the whole Canadian workforce and this result to the current problem faced by more than 90% of employees in Canada (Budd, 2007).

Relevance of the Topic

            The topic on employment fairness in the labour sector is relevant to the course because businesses depend on human capital for them to be successful and profitable. According to Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), promoting farness in the workplace is one of the strategies applied by businesses and organizations to build trust and motivate the workforce (IBE, 2015). However, the levels of fairness in the workplace have declined even when employment laws and standards encourage equality and equity in the employment sector. Discrimination of vulnerable groups in the workplace by employer is a problem that has resulted into unfairness employment, hence declined production, trust, and demotivates employees (IBE, 2015). The labour standards, especially on employment fairness do not respond to current employment realities in divergent circumstances (Arthur, 2006). Subsequently, it is more unlikely for employers to comply and thus, the rigidness of the standards must be addressed to ensure that the adjustments are made at sector level, instead of the federal jurisdiction.

            The primary themes emerging from the report are such as employment fairness, fairness in the workplace, discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups, employment equality, and treating men and women differently.

Research Question

            The purpose of the paper is to explore employment fairness and establish elements that hinder the full implementation of employment fairness policies. In such effort, the research question: What intervention(s) strategies can be developed to improve employment fairness in the labour sector? In order to answer this question, a new alternative policy that promotes fairness in the labour sector is proposed and its benefits provided in terms of how themes such as gender equality and non-discrimination is the workplace is to be realized.  In this study, factors that have prevented full implementation of fairness policies and programs in Canada have also been exploited. The laws that have been put in place to safeguard the welfare of all the employees regardless of the race, gender, or social status; however, the equality laws are not put into force by many employers

Significance of the Study

The findings of the research study can play an integral role not only to companies and employees in Canada, but also to policy makers. For instance, by establishing the areas that need improvement and the need for a change, the research study can be adopted by policy makers to address the issues. Moreover, by highlighting the elements that prevent the effective implementation of employment fairness policies and programs, laws can be put into place to safeguard the welfare of all the employees irrespective of their race, gender, or social status. This can promote employment fairness in the future, hence better workplace and improved worth ethics. As noted by Ceplenski (2013), enhancing employment fairness through policy change can improve employees’ perception of fairness and equitable treatment in the workplace, hence employee’s retention, improved performance, and engagement. Employers can also reduce practices associated with unfair treatment because it increases absenteeism and voluntary turnover, develops a climate of hostility and distrust, reduces employee commitment and performance to the organization, and minimizes the willingness by employees to assist each other (Ceplenski, 2013).

Employment Law and Workplace Equity Policy

  The commitment to and implementing of principles that promote employment equity in Canada is encouraged through the law. In addition, the central principle of decency and fairness in the labour sector lies in the standards legislation, which is the “Fairness at Work: Federal Labour Standards for the 21st Century” (Swartz 2014). The employment rights of employees are covered under basic employment rights that focus of severance provisions, vacations, sick days, minimum wages, and hours of work. In each province, 90% of the employees are protected and safeguarded under the employment laws.  The Canada Fair Employment Practices Acthas also been passed and implemented by the government to address the issue of discrimination, especially in the civil service.

The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) is a law that prohibits any form of discrimination at the workplace or other place on the basis of age, ethnicity, race, and gender. Passed in 1977, the Act is applicable in all provinces and its purpose is to ensure that all people are equally treated without any form of discrimination (Karan, 2014). Thus, all people have the right not to be discriminated in the work place. The CHRA works together with the Employment Equity Act (EEA). The EEA was put into place in order to protect the rights of visible minorities, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities (PWD), and women. The primary differences between the two is that the CHRA usually prohibits discrimination, while the EEA is applied to make sure that employment opportunities are improved, especially for vulnerable groups.

Employment equity is another standard that was implemented to promote full participation and fair representation of women in the workplace, PWDs, visible minority groups, and aboriginal peoples. To achieve Employment equity in the labour sector, employment practices have been established that discourage and correct problems in employment for vulnerable groups. The purpose of the Employment Equity Act according to the Department of Justice (2010) is to realize equality in the workplace and make sure that no individual is denied employment benefits or opportunities or benefits for reasons that are not related to personal abilities. Thus, the Act has been in place to safeguard the needs of the vulnerable but still women do not enjoy equal employment opportunities and benefits as they should, hence policy challenges. 

In essence, all workers are supposed to be treated equally in the workplace regardless of their race, gender, or physical abilities in order to provide better services. Nonetheless, employment unfairness has prevented the realization of employment equality in the labour sector. For example,   women are more likely to have many off-days to attend to families and other responsibilities, which render them less productive than their male colleagues (Noonen, Corcoran, & Courant, 2005). As a result, they end up being paid less for the same job like their male counterparts. Women’s domestic chores significantly contributed to the increased levels of unfairness in the employment sector. Also, during hiring process, most of the firms perceive the gender as a factor that has effect on the company performance (Hood, Hardy, & Lewis, 2005).

A New Public Policy Alternative

There is need to have a new public policy alternative to enhance ethics and fairness in the labour sector. Brander (2014) noted that fairness entails treating people in a manner in which they deserve to be treated. There are two forms of fairness namely: horizontal fairness/equity and vertical equity. Horizontal fairness/equity is whereby all the people who are alike are treated the same way, while under vertical equity, people who have differences in shared aspects must be treated differently (Brander, 2014). The principle of horizontal equity is applicable in this paper because it encourages equitability and fairness in employment sector. The other principle (vertical equity) is also applicable because it implies that people who are in different situations must be differently treated with those who better off. 

The new “Labour standards should ensure that no matter how limited his or her bargaining power, no worker in the federal jurisdiction is offered, accepts or works under conditions that Canadians would not regard as ‘decent” (Federal Labour Standards Review Commission, 2006, p. 47). Thus, based on the horizontal equity, all employees must be treated under the same labour standards that promote equity regardless of their bargaining power.  According to Arthur (2006), given the disparities of power between workers and employers, the new policy must address the competing demands and provide a basis for the protection and rights of employees, such as maximum hours of work and minimum wages.  Thus, the new proposal is designed in such a manner that the employers can meet the set labour standards.

The proposal is to develop and implement a Fair Work Legislation that can promote fairness and equity in the Canada’s workplace. The role of the Fair Work Regulation is to promote positive employer-employee relationships in the workplace. The regulation would provide a safety of net minimum entitlements that allow flexible working as well as fairness, thus preventing any form of discrimination against employees. In the new improved policy equity is to comprise of security, justice, and fairness in reference to the employment policies and rewards administration (Arthur, 2006). The policy is deemed effective because it entails the ability by employees to offer meaningful input into individual and collective decision making. Thus, the policy balances voice of the employees with equity and efficiency in promoting the needs of the employees.

The Improved Fair Work Policy

Having established the needs in the labour market, the next phase is to develop a policy that is a summation of existing labour standards. The new policy advocates for equal pay for similar jobs, women promotion in the workplace to senior positions, promote gender equality, and individual and collective bargaining power of employees. For example, as recommended by CIDA (2010), the new policy will advance equal participation of women and men in the workplace and support the rights of women in order to promote human rights under the EEA and CHRA. Its full implementation is expected to minimize gender-based discrimination in the workplace and ensure that employment opportunities are improved, to accommodate more women. Subsequently, employment fairness would be realized thus reducing the gender inequalities in control and access to employment opportunities and resources.

In order to implement the new policy, employees (both male and female) must be part of the process. In addition, gender equality specialists accompanied by labour specialists must be involved from the beginning to the end.

Measuring the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Policy

At the corporate level, the new policy is to be measured in terms of the commitment of senior management to gender equality and equity. According to CIDA (2010), the commitment by the management is the first step in ensuring employment fairness in the workplace. When organization provide resources and design programs to promote equity, then the policy is efficient and effectiveness. For instance, programs that encourage promotion of women in senior position and increase in number of women in boardrooms can be regarded as a step towards realization of employment fairness. The other element that can be measured is the available accountability frameworks set to make sure that gender equality in the New Improved Fair Work Policy is implemented.

At organizational level both qualitative and quantitative data can be collected which can be used as fairness and gender-sensitive indicators. CIDA (2010) has encouraged collection of baseline data that incorporates sex, socioeconomic, age, and ethnic groups’ distribution in the workplace. Such data can be used to determine if there is any progress in ensuring fairness in the workplace. For instance, when female and male employees in Canada regardless of their race, age, or ethnicity are promoted and provided with better working conditions, then horizontal fairness/equity is promoted (Brander, 2014). On the other hand, when women and men in the work place are treated with dignity despite their differences and similarities, the vertical equity will be promoted.  Lastly, an increase in women in labour sector and in male-dominated fields and same pay for women as men for similar jobs, then employment fairness is to be achieved. At that point employees will be protected from both gender and sex discrimination in the workplace.

Conclusion

            The Canada’s employment sector is faced with some challenges that hindered fairness in the workplace. For instance, women are discriminated against in terms of work pay, promotion, equality, and senior positions held. The proposed policy change can make sure that women are treated equally and in similar manner like their male counterparts. The proposed alternative is a Fair Work Policy that advocates for equal pay, promotion of women in the workplace, and promotion of gender equality. The new policy can be measured by the levels of commitment by the management, resources and design programs in place to promote equity, and the number of women promoted in senior position and the increase in number of women in boardrooms. The use of qualitative and quantitative data can be effective in measuring of fairness and gender-sensitive indicators.

References

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Brander, J. A. (2014). Government policy toward business. (5th ed). Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons.

Britt, T. (2008). Organizational psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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