Tutor profile: Idara J.
English Language can be taught for specific purposes depending on the status of the language in a location or country. Discuss and Design a questionnaire to address the specific English needs of a group of (non-English speaking) expatriates who have recently arrived an English speaking country for work.
English for Specific Purposes(ESP) builds courses that would cater for very specific needs – those of particular groups of people working in various narrow fields. ESP can be seen as a special variety of the English language taught to a particular group of people pursuing a common aim. Thus, in order to draw up an appropriate curriculum for the class, it is expedient that the teacher first knows the needs of the student. Thus, Needs analysis is at the centre of ESP. Needs analysis is a yardstick of knowing the learner’s necessities, needs, lacks, in order to develop courses that have a reasonable content for exploitation in the classroom. Below is a situation portraying a need for English for Occupational purposes (EOP) and a Needs analysis was drawn in form of a questionnaire so that the teacher would draw up an appropriate teaching curriculum which would meet every individual’s need. The Communicative Need Processor (CNP) approach to Needs analysis is used to investigate the particular communication needs according to socio-cultural and stylistic variables which interact to determine a profile of such needs. This implies that CNP enables an individual (teacher) to draw up a curriculum based on the information received about the learner’s background in relation to his/her socio-cultural environment. English for medical professionals A group of 8 Chinese workers (Doctors) just arrived Calabar as they were offered appointments by the Nigerian government as Doctors in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. They were specially requested (as they are already established doctors in their country, China) to run the permanent site of the hospital especially the surgery sections. These workers arrived together as organized by the Chinese Government in China who planned and aided in their transportation from China to Calabar, Cross-River state in Nigeria. The hospital has organized a compulsory ESP course which would span for six months. Below is the questionnaire serving as a needs analysis for the Chinese group. This questionnaire was developed as part of your English for Occupational purposes (EOP) course. It intends to identify your individual English language needs as medical professionals who just got employed in a strictly English speaking area (Cross River state Nigeria). Your honest responses will help us in drawing up an appropriate ESP curriculum for you that would meet your needs effectively. This will help in bridging the gap between you (the non-English speaker or fairly-English speaking workers and the existent workers in the hospital who speak strictly English and also with patients. Please, kindly provide honest answers to the following questions and tick appropriately [√] where necessary as applicable to you. A) PERSONAL INFORMATION 1. Full name (Surname first): ……………………………………….. 2. Nationality: …………………………….. 3. Age: ……………………………………… 4. Sex: …………………………………… 5. Native language: …………………………………….. Approximately rate in percentage the command of your native language. ……………………………………………… State and Approximately rate in percentage the command of any other language you can speak. ……………………………………………………… 6. Place of Residence: ……………………………………………. 7. Marital Status: Married [ ] Single [ ] 8. If married, what is the nationality of your spouse…………………………………….. B) ACADEMIC AND WORK EXPERIENCE. 9. In your entire Academic experience, have you ever attended an English speaking institution and at what level (s)? Yes [ ] No [ ]. Level: ………………………… Name(s) and location of the Institution(s) …………………………………………….. 10. What is the name of the College you graduated from; it’s Location and your college major? ……………………………………………………. 11. How many hospitals have you worked in? (This also includes where you did your housemanship and where you worked as Interns. 1 [ ] 2 [ ] 3 [ ] 4 [ ] 5 [ ] 12. State the names of these hospitals and their location. ……………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………. 13. Please state your medical and job specialty. …………………………………………. 14. During your previous work experience(s), have you ever conducted your work in English? (Whether by communication to co-workers and patients or by drawing up diagnosis and reports using professional terminologies). Yes [ ] No [ ]. 15. If yes in question 14 above, approximately state what percentage of your work was conducted in English? Please write down the percentage in this space……………………. 16. Have you ever been engaged in medical training courses while working at the hospital(s) (whether organized by the hospital or by the government)? Yes [ ] No [ ]. 17. If you answered yes above, which language was used in these training courses? English [ ] Chinese [ ] Others, please specify ……………………… 18. During your work experience, did you ever have coworkers or patients who included people that communicated in English only? Yes [ ] No [ ]. 19. If your answer was yes above, how often did your job require you to encounter them and communicate with them? A lot of times [ ] few times [ ] Once in a very long while [ ] Never [ ]. 20. How would you describe your level of English (underline the suitable variant): Elementary Pre-intermediate Intermediate Upper-intermediate Advanced. C) ESP COURSE DESIGN NEED 21. During your ESP course which would you prefer first (please note that everything stated below are very important, but your individual priority will enable us group you into different classes). To study strictly medical professional terminologies in English. [ ] To study different topics related to your medical specialty. [ ] To study for everyday communication with co-workers and patients. [ ] 22. What forms of work would you prefer to dominate in your ESP class? Rate the following from 1 (the most effective for you) to 4 (the least effective for you) Teacher explains a new topic and corrects my mistakes when I do exercises. [ ] Analyzing language structures and trying to work with new words on my own. [ ] Class discussions and documentaries. [ ] Use of power point presentations and practical encounter with English speaking patients and workers. [ ] 23. As much as they are all important, Rate in order of priority from 1 to 4 which skills you would love to improve on or develop more which you think the ESP course should focus on. (where 1 is the most needed and 4 is the least needed). Listening [ ] Reading [ ] Writing [ ] Speaking [ ] 24. How do you prefer to do learning activities in the class? Preference for working in pairs or groups [ ] Preference for working alone [ ] 25. What kind of role would you like your ESP teacher to perform in class? Preference for the teacher to act as a guide and facilitator while supervising what we are doing with practical works or presentations [ ] Preference for the traditional role of the teacher in explaining and teaching virtually everything or being someone in control of everything in class void of individual or group presentations. (i.e. teaching everything while the students listen. [ ]. Conclusion The questionnaire above with the designed questions would enable the teacher to decipher whether the learners have ever been exposed to English in their lives whether by residential location, location of their schools or previous work experiences or by interaction with people who spoke English at their schools or previous work places. It also portrays and opens the teacher up to their specific needs as regards the skills or aspects to improve and how the learners would want their ESP course to look like. When the answers are provided to the questions above, the teacher would be able to fashion the ESP curriculum according to the needs they stated, identify gaps and seek how they will be filled.
When an organisation is going through a merger or a downsizing process, there is bound to be loss of jobs. Discuss the effective management of employees within a downsized company showing the actions that managers can take to address the concerns of the ‘survivors’ of downsizing processes.
Downsizing is “the systematic reduction of a workforce through a set of activities by which organisations aim to improve efficiency and performance” (Tzafrir et al, 2006:125). It is a painful process that has impact on thevictims and the survivors who are prone to the survivor syndrome. But the success or failure of downsizing and the effects on survivor’s behaviour can be reduced, as it depends on how the entire process is managed as regards the actions of the managers before, during and after the downsizing process. This essay examines the actions managers can take at each stage of the process to address the concerns of the survivors, this includes: Actions before downsizing –Concrete analysis of the organisations corporate strategy and culture, Preparation of managers and Communication with the employees giving ample time before the process; Actions during downsizing–Dignified communication of the layoff to employees, Increased accessibility of management and Introduction of job counselling and employee caretaking services; Actions after the process (post-downsizing) – (Re)Training of Survivors and the Communication of Goal setting and performance evaluation schemes. These actions will be expatiated per stage of the process with the rationale that missing one at any stage can affect the entire process negatively thereby bringing to light the possibility of having a successful downsizing process through well managed survivors. Actions before the Downsizing. Prior to downsizing, managers can take the following actions: Concrete analysis of the organisation’s corporate strategy and culture, Preparation of Managers and Communication with the employees giving ample time before the process. Managers should first have concrete scrutiny of the organisations corporate strategy and culture, addressing all possible alternative measures before settling for layoffs and ensure that the organisation is ready to accommodate such change. Trahant & Burke (1996) state that often times, companies fail to assess their firm’s readiness for change (p.37), and other researches state that in the end from various instances, you discover that the change was not even necessary, and companies that fail at downsizing did not explore all possible alternatives to downsizing. (Chitwood, 1997; Colby, 1996;Appelbaum et al, 1999); instead they just delve into it quickly like the so called Mafia model of downsizing that believes it should be a process that is best hurriedly carried out and quickly forgotten (Wilkinson & Redman, 2009 citing Stebbins, 1989).This should not be the case, instead managers need to evaluate if layoffs are needed and consider alternative measures to cost-cutting like reducing overhead expenses of executives as it would be ironic for the employees to learn of the firm’s financial position when executives still have visible expensive luxuries; they can further consider other options like early retirement, voluntary redundancies, attrition, wage freezes before settling for layoffs, even though downsizing is usually synonymous with layoffs (Wilkonson & Redman, 2009). It is important during this process to have an extensive meeting with shareholders, directors, managers and most importantly representatives of the employees on the company’s position. This spells out fairness in having every level represented while making the decision about the organisation. Brockner (1992:14) in line with this thought states that “for some of the many decisions associated with layoffs, employees should participate in the process” as survivors would view it as fair rather than if it was imposed on them. Amundson et al (2004) in their interview with 31 survivors from downsized organisations revealed that “survivors indicated that they were reassured when they could understand and have a voice in the restructuring process and expressed frustration when their input was not sought or ignored to the detriment of the organisation” (p.259). When the decision on layoffs has been made, the next line of action is to prepare the managers professionally on how to handle the process. Brockner (1992) states that “managers who anticipate their subordinates’ emotional pains are more likely to give them the room they need to have their feelings and keep them from having negative effects” (p.19). Alevras and Frigeri (1987) developed a model called the ‘change reaction model’ with the aim of training managers on how to effectively deal with emotions based on the predicted reactions of different types of employees to the layoffs. This model divided employees into four (4) types of groups to include- the leaders, followers, victims and the avengers with the believe that if managers are trained in this line on how to manage the different employee reactions it would reduce the effect on the survivors when the news is broken (Appelbaum et al, 1999, pp. 431-432). This action by managers would be effective as it keeps them prepared for the ‘worst’ giving them the ability to make more informed decisions about how to handle layoffs. This is evident in the case study of Compaq computer that downsized in 1991 where one of the feedbacks on why it was a success was that prior to the downsizing, management went through a training program that “was not only concerned with how to support the victims, but perhaps more importantly, helped managers understand how to help survivors” (Caudron, 1996:39). They were shown how to conduct the meetings with the subordinate, how to break the news and were also provided with leaflets showing questions that they may be asked and how best to answer them. The next action for managers once they are prepared is the actual communication with the employees. If people are going to be laid off, it is only fair for managers to inform the employees, giving them advanced notice. The fact that management takes the time to provide prior explanation has good effects on the survivors largely because of the feeling of being treated with dignity and respect and giving the victims opportunity to leave gracefully. This is because when the organisation is honest in providing reasons for the layoffs then the survivors will judge the process as fair. Researches proof that providing adequate and timely explanations to employees will also mitigate retaliatory activities related to perceptions of fairness and reiterate the fact that employees are treated with dignity and worthy of recognition, therefore enabling the survivors to be more committed to strategic change (Skarlicki et al (2008);Gagnon et al (2008); McDevitt et al (2013). This is evident in Caudron (1996)’s case study of downsized companies where a consistent factor for the successful downsizing process was prior communication. For Compaq, they developed a campaign to “communicate information about the layoff before it actually occurred with the idea that if survivors can be given an understanding of the strategic reasons for experiencing downsizing, the negative rumours will be minimised” and for Patagonia 1992 downsizing, Caudron states that actions were taken to ensure a healthy environment through information being communicated to the workers on why the downsizing was necessary (pp.39-40). Taking these actions before the actual process already gives the employees (especially the survivors) a soft-landing and helps cushion the negative effects that may follow when the layoffs occur. Actions during the Downsizing. Managers can take the following actions during downsizing to address the concerns of survivors: Dignified communication of the layoff to employees, Accessibility of management and Introduction of job counselling and caretaking services. It is important for managers to communicate the layoff to employees in a dignified manner. The way the message is delivered has an important implication on the survivors as employees form close relationship with each other and the survivors take note of management’s treatment of the victim. Amundson et al (2004:260) revealed that “survivors reacted to the way organisations treated their colleagues during layoffs... and unfair or insensitive treatment generated resentment and anger”. Brockner (1992) advising on how not to communicate the layoff cited an example of a communication company who leaked word to the press about the layoffs before telling the employees and they had to learn about their job loss over the radio while returning from work. One can only imagine how worthless the employees of that company must have felt. When the layoffs have been communicated, management need to increase their visibility and accessibility as the employees will be hungry for information (Brockner, 1992) and the level of job insecurity at this point would be high. Hussain et al (2014:92) while interviewing employees of a downsized Pakistani airline company, captured an employee stating that “every employee working in this organization is not feeling secure...I don’t know when I would be kicked off, there is huge uncertainty”. Communication here is vital as managers need to give clear answers to the best of their capacity, as information helps people cope with stressful circumstances; Amundson et al (2004) interview with survivors revealed that “survivors were reassured by the presence of their supervisors during the downsizing process; stating an example of an employee who had a manager drop by to say ‘hello’ and admitted that it made him feel a little bit more comfortable (p.261). This acts as an avenue for the survivors to build trust in the management again because research has shown that the “credibility of management is expected to decrease by 35% following a downsizing” (Clark &Koonce, 1997, cited in Appelbaum et al, 1999:430). The next action while being accessible is the introduction of job counselling and caretaking services. When the downsizing occurs there is going to be an outpouring of emotions, therefore, managers should have counselling programs to cater for these needs. These Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) have to be visible and also communicated to the survivors as their “behaviour, morale and productivity are directly affected by the way the layoffs are managed with the provision of tangible caretaking services for not just them but also the victims in bridging the transition period” (De Vries & Balazs, 1996:119). The importance of job counselling is captured in the case study of State of Oregon downsizing by Caudron, (1996). During the time of the layoffs the state provided workshops with the aim of helping employees to discuss their pain and aid survivors in accepting the discomfort caused by taking up extra job roles. The coordinator also admitted that though they omitted it, but it was important to have a counsellor for drop in appointments to give survivors the much needed help (p.40). Counselling is important as it helps to fast track the survivors back into a positive state of mind in readiness to rebuild the organisation (Blyth, 2003, cited in Schiro & Baker, 2009:112). Actions after the Process (Post Downsizing) Managers can take the following actions post downsizing to address the concerns of survivors: (Re) training of Survivors and Communication of goal setting and performance evaluation schemes. After the initial wave of the layoff begins to wear off, it is important to introduce training programs for the survivors. As expected with layoffs and with various researches, workload increases and survivors have to take up new roles which would require learning new skills to accommodate the demands of the new job. Interviews with survivors as captured in the research of O’Neill and Lenn (1995) shows that the workers are usually worried that they will not possess the skills necessary to meet the job requirements of their new job descriptions. Therefore, organising re-training programs brings to light ways to carry out the job roles, affirms their contribution in reconstructing the organisation and also aids in managing their career path. Adhering to these needs increases their productivity and confidence and also has a positive impact on the organisations post-downsizing result (Caudron, 1996). It is also important during training sessions to introduce new opportunities as there is usually the false conclusion by survivors that “there just aren’t any opportunities” (Brockner, 1992:25). They need to be guided into discovering them and employees should be given the opportunity to make suggestions on ways to make their new job roles easier and generally ways to restructure the organisation as this deepens their sense of belonging and aids in boosting their morale. The final but continuous stage the managers can take is goal setting and periodic performance evaluation schemes. During and after the training sessions, it is important for managers to set realistic goals in line with the organisations new adjusted business strategy. Brockner (1992) states that with the layoffs, most survivors may be hungry for a successful experience, and managers can prey on this by renegotiating the psychological contract, set achievable goals within a timeframe and attach rewards to them. When these goals are achieved, no matter how small, they should be celebrated as this would increase the self confidence of the employee and act as a motivation.These rewards could be financial or as ‘little’ as having the picture of the employee on the notice boards or office bulletin as the employee of the week or month. Brockner (1992) in his research makes mention of an organisation who gave accolades for achieving goals visible throughout the organisation post downsizing; he stated that “this publicity campaign had the effect of showing survivors what was in it for them for working towards furthering the organisations goals” (p.26). Managers can therefore carry out periodic employee surveys and performance evaluation to keep track of the growth and development of both the survivors and the organisation itself post-downsizing. Criticisms/Setbacks. It would be unrealistic to expect that managers will go through the entire process and action points above without any form of hindrance. One of the most prominent setbacks and criticism of the idea of having a well laid out downsizing process is Costing. The reason for downsizing is most times to reduce cost, but the question still remains, does the organisation really get to cut cost during downsizing? Different researches have addressed this fact that reducing the number of employees did not prove to reduce expenses as much as anticipated (Bruton et al, 1996) and this is identified in the fact that from the above, finances would be needed for effective training of managers, outplacements, counselling and training of the survivors, thus, if the idea of downsizing is to cut cost, where are the managers expected to get finances to fund these trainings? As much as these trainings are important, the hands of managers could be tied to the level of trainings that can be provided as Wilkonson & Redman (2009:383) state that “since downsizing is often associated with cutting costs, the organisation may provide less training for their employees, recruit less externally and reduce the research and development budget”. This could lead to the provision of substandard services to the survivors and may not fully address all their concerns, leaving them disgruntled. Also there is still the debate of what type of training would best suit the needs of the surviving employees (Appelbaum et al, 1999:435). So the manager is left with the pressure of not only thinking up of the cost of trainings but also the best trainings to offer within those financial constraints. These are the extra pressures and uncertainties that managers have to deal with. In addition, in all my research on the process of downsizing, focus has always been on the victims and survivors and very little attention has been put on the wellbeing of the managers. Are managers’ supposed to be super humans without emotional concerns? No one ever wants to be the bearer of bad news but unfortunately aside from the aspect of training them to handle the process professionally, no one really pays attention to their personal emotional being instead they are mounted with all sort of pressure from the process. De Vries & Balazs (1996:112) in line with this argue that “corollary to what happens to victims and survivors is the way people who actually do the downsizing are psychologically affected”. In their interview with executives, they discovered that the task has a considerable emotional impact on them with some being depressed, defensive, expected to live in denial by showing toughness (one executive in his interview spoke about the importance of the process and every other thing that came with it except his emotions, (p.116). But should the managers be left without their emotions being catered for? No, the organisation and researchers should pay attention to the managers too as their emotional wellbeing is important in the process; for the survivors’ concerns to be addressed effectively, they need emotionally balanced managers; in order for the company to rise again it would take the combined effort of well managed survivors and emotionally balanced managers. I believe it would also be of benefit to the survivors to see that their managers are also partly receiving but also managing the emotional blow of the process professionally and not some super humans who seem unaffected. Conclusion Organisations usually prepare for the employees being released but often times may not be prepared for the “low morale and lower productivity experienced by the survivors” (Isabella, 1989 cited in Appelbaum et al, 1999:429). It is important to organise and implement downsizing with special attention devoted to the survivors because they will be “the linchpins of future profitability for the organisation”(Moskal, 1992, cited in Appelbaum et al, 1999:426). Managers need not make that mistake of focusing so much on the victims and then addressing survivor’s concerns midway after the ‘deed has been done’ as it would be too late and they(survivors) may have judged the entire process already as unfair making it more difficult to appease them. This paper seeks to show that for survivors’ concerns to be managed effectively, managers need to consciously carry them along right from the beginning of the process with a strategy of ‘prevention is better than cure’ in line with Caudron (1996) who states that “Like any malady, the survivor syndrome, as it has come to be known, is best cured by preventing it from ever occurring” (p.39).Therefore, managers despite the setbacks they may face need to take actions at each stage of the downsizing process that would address the concerns of the survivors in the long run. These includes first understanding that downsizing will not succeed unless the company is deemed ready for a change and they need to analyse the organisations corporate strategy and alternative measures to downsizing while consulting the employees; prepare and train the managers for the process and communicate to the employees giving ample time before the layoffs begin. During the layoffs, managers should communicate the layoffs in the most dignified manner, improve their visibility and accessibility to employees and introduce job counselling and caretaking services. After the layoff, managers need to organise training programs for the survivors to learn and improve on their skills to accommodate the new job roles, set realistic goals and perform periodic employee surveys to analyze growth and development overtime. From the above, the common factor in all these stages is communication, thus, managers need to take note of its importance during the entire process as researchers state that it is one of the factors that influences the outcome of the downsizing process most (Brockner,1992; De Vries &Balaz, 1996). This is captured in the words of the HR director of Patagonia, an organisation that successfully went through downsizing: “The extensive communications that surrounded the downsizing helped surviving employees focus on their energies on rebuilding the company. They did not have to worry why the company laid off certain people or why the company had to be restructured” (Caudron, 1996:39). If there is active/honest communication coupled with all the action points above and emotions of managers themselves are managed, then the excess negative concerns of survivors will be suppressed and the organisation will rise quickly, bearing in mind that “today’s survivors can be tomorrows disgruntled, unproductive workers or tomorrow’s team players, enthusiastic about being part of a community at work that values their contributions” (Strandell, 1995 cited in Appelbaum et al, 1999:426) it all depends on how the process is managed.
In business administration, a business is bound to be faced with interactions from diverse individuals (both employees and non-employees). Choosing any existent business of your choice, discuss a relevant Live organizational Problem that businesses face which addresses Equality and Diversity with timely recommendations.
UNDERSTANDING GENDER PAYGAP AND ITS MULTIPLE STRUCTURE ISSUES: AN EXAMPLE OF WALMART. Introduction. The labour market has changed overtime, however, one thing that seems to have remained over the years is the pay gap between men and women. After accounting for so many external factors it seems that still, at the root of it all, men get an inherent bonus just for being men (Stanberry &Aven,2013:197). The U.S. government has confirmed the findings in the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) study that the workplace gender pay gap persists today (p.195). It is striking that women’s increased employment participation has not necessarily led to increased equality for women within the labour market (Kirton &Greene,2016:17). This pay gap is evident in various organizations including Walmart which is the case study for this essay. Walmart has been laden with Gender pay gap issues where the pay of the women in various positions is considerably lower than that of men in the same position. This has led to legal cases, the most famous being the Dukes v. Wal-Mart suit, a discrimination lawsuit against the 1.5 million women who had worked there since 1998. This case study and essay will be examined accordingly showing the overall context and statistics of the Walmart discrimination case, comparative organizational examples, factors that affect the gender pay gap, the analysis and recommendations that benefit not only Walmart but also other organizations. Background: The Walmart Case Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation founded in 1962 in U.S.A. It operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount stores and grocery stores worldwide. As of January 31, 2018, Walmart has 11,718 stores and clubs in 28 countries, operating under 59 different names (Wikipedia,2017). Despite the organizations widespread growth, Walmart has been laden with legal cases for their gender pay gap, the most famous being the Dukes v. Wal-Mart suit. The U.S. Supreme Court disallowed it as a class action lawsuit, but if it did go through, it would have been the largest employment discrimination suit in history. The complaint centered on the fact that women in hourly and salaried jobs make less money than men. Interestingly, Walmart did not deny nor fight the discrimination claim but instead argued that the compensation should be made only to the women directly named in the suit than the 1.5 million women who worked there (The Guardian, 2011). After this Dukes case, Walmart was also sued by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2010 for gender pay gap. It is reported that Walmart settled the lawsuit by paying $11.7 million in back wages and compensation to women in London (EEOC, 2010). Walmart is still laden in this gender disparity till date and worthy of note is the fact that Walmart has refused the proposal by their shareholders to be transparent and publish the data for pay disparities between male and female employees (Mcdonough, 2015). The U.S Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963 and Wal-Mart claims to have HR non-discriminatory policies, however, the pace of pay and promotion for working women has been uneven as reported by the media and therefore has effects on the social, business and legal context. This seems to have been a trend for years as shown by the following report: “A study in 2001 and 2003 showed that Walmart paid women $5,200 less a year, on average, than men; those in hourly positions earned $1,100 less and those in salaried positions earned $14,500 less. In 2015 it was discovered that majority of Walmart managers in the U.S were men, even though women make up 56% of the company’s US workforce (Making Change at Walmart, 2018). In addition to this, it is reported that the shifts system is unfavorable to mothers where “the computer-based scheduling system prioritizes scheduling for peak shopping hours according to each individual store’s patterns therefore working mothers who need regular childcare have either resorted to working part-time or forced to quit their jobs”. This contributes to the general notion that women are more likely than men to be working part-time when they want full-time hours. In the case of Walmart, 58% of women involuntarily work part-time (Making Change at Walmart, 2018). These statistics reveal a call for equal pay for work of equal value in this world’s largest company by revenue as any change or recommendation would not only benefit Walmart or the retail industry but other organizations in the general labor market. LITERATURE REVIEW: Factors Affecting Gender Pay Gap Gender pay gap is “the difference between men’s hourly earnings and women’s hourly earnings as a percentage of men’s hourly earnings”(Kirton &Greene,2016:22). Various statistics show the presence of this gender pay gap. In 2009, pay gap in the US was 80.2%, meaning, women earned roughly 20% less than a man(Wharton,2012:214). In UK, female employees working full-time earned 84.5% of the hourly earnings of the men, that is a 15% pay gap(Perfect,2011:3). These statistics are alarming and is not only visible in Walmart but in other organizations. Some include ASDA who has been fighting a £100m equal pay battle with shop floor women who claim that they are paid less than the men because their work was historically perceived as “women’s work” (The Guardian,2016). In 2017, Google was sued for continually paying women less than men in the same job position in 2017 (Claburn, 2017). Also, Tesco equal pay claim could cost the supermarket up to £4bn: Lawyers say female shop floor workers earn up to £3 an hour less than male warehouse staff” (The Guardian,2018). This trend in gender pay gap is a cause for concern and has strong relevance which is evident in the research on the main factors that widen this pay gap which include: Sex/Gender Segregation, Women’s child-rearing roles/breaks and discrimination discussed extensively below. According to Wharton(2012:217), “a significant portion of this pay gap is due to the fact that women and men work in different jobs and jobs filled by women tend to be lower paying than those filled by men”. Because of this strong gendered pattern found in labour markets globally, this has resulted in Occupational sex or gender segregation. This term describes the “tendency for men and women to be employed in different occupations and sectors of the economy (Kirton &Greene,2016:17). Although it affects both sexes, it has more negative consequences for women as it restricts their access to career opportunities (p.22). Two kinds of gender segregation have been identified: Horizontal and Vertical segregation. Horizontal segregation is where the workforce of a specific industry is mostly made up of one gender. An example being that men are found more in construction and skilled trades whereas care, sales, customer service are predominantly occupied by females. Vertical segregation is where opportunities for career progression within a company or sector for a gender are narrowed, though it affects women more (Syed&Ozbilgin,2015:110). This breeds the popular idea of the glass ceiling where men continue to be over-represented in the higher levels of organizational/occupational hierarchies. Women taking child-rearing roles affects the pay gap as explained by Kirton &Greene, (2016:60). They state that “Two main factors that influence career progression positively are a full time uninterrupted working life and ability to show long-term commitment by working long hours’. This is difficult because the careers of most women are constantly interrupted by motherly/family duties, thereby reducing their years of experience. Rubery& Grimshaw(2014:325) states that this rational decision by women to specialize in childrearing increases the tendency for women to choose occupations offering opportunities for reconciling work and family commitments and this is the reason why most women are found in part-time positions as discussed in the background section above where 58% of Walmart’s women work part-time involuntarily. “In Europe, 32% of employed women work part time compared with just 8% of men” (Kirton &Greene,2016:17) therefore women are mostly found in the lowest paid status and most vulnerable jobs. Discrimination which causes wage differences and affects the pay gap can happen in three general ways as stated by Meyersson et al (2001:2). First, as allocative discrimination where an employer allocates women and men differently to occupations that differ in the wages they pay. Secondly, within-occupation-establishment wage discrimination where an employer may pay women lower wages than men within a given job category within an establishment. Thirdly, valuative discrimination where an employer may pay less for jobs filled primarily by women than for jobs filled primarily by men, even though skill requirements are the same (p.3). Analysis The various Walmart cases reveal the presence of a combination of all the factors explained above, but Discrimination seems more prominent. These legal cases from the Dukes v. Wal-Mart suit to the most recent in 2017 showcase a similar trend and complaint of discrimination. They present the women claiming “the company had a pattern of discriminating women where they were denied opportunities for promotion and weren’t paid equally to male colleagues in both hourly positions and certain salaried management positions” (Holman,2017). In Drogin(2003:19) study of Gender patterns in Walmart, it was discovered that “the average time since date of hire until first being promoted in an Assistant Manager job was 4.38 years for women, but only 2.86 years for men. This is also the pattern for Store Managers: It took women 10.12 years on the average to reach Store Manager, but it took men only 8.64 years” This can be classified as within-occupation-establishment wage discrimination as Walmart seems to be paying the women lower wages with difficulty in promotion even while they have similar qualification and skills with the men in their job category. They also complain of the company’s relocation travel requirements for their management positions (Holman,2017); this indirect discrimination in the long run has adverse effects on the women because of their childbearing and family roles which this policy does not accommodate. Therefore, the men continue to ascend to these management positions faster without hassle, thereby increasing the number of males in managerial positions in the company. Details from the Dukes v. Wal-Mart suit state that “Females make up over 72% of the hourly sales employees, but only one-third of management positions. Women make up less than 10% of all stores managers, and about 4% of all district managers and there is only one woman among the company’s 20 executive officers” (Cheeseman,2011). This clearly showcases the presence of the proverbial glass ceiling where men continue to be over-represented in hierarchical organizational levels than women. In response to this glass ceiling allegation as presented by contents of the Dukes v. Walmart suit, the Walton Institute state that “that the reason there are few senior female managers at Wal-Mart is because men were more aggressive in achieving those levels of responsibility than women.” It was also reported that one Regional Vice President’s response was that “women did not seek management positions because of their family commitments and that higher male pay was justified because they were the head of their households.”(Norman,2016). The discrimination occurring stands on the shoulders of both female (vertical) segregation and Walmart’s s policies which do not accommodate the childbearing family roles of women and motherhood. This case shows the structural issues affecting the gender pay gap globally as a function of company’s policy, society’s overview of gender patterned occupations, society’s unequal division of domestic family duties and the women’s individual decision to uphold family roles over career progression which is largely influenced by established stereotypical belief that ‘it’s the woman’s job to take care of the home’. This case is of utmost importance as it not only incorporates equality and diversity but also moves to the notion of fairness. It is unfair for both men and women to attend college, be recruited with same skills and qualification but the woman is paid less because of her gender or the assumption that her productivity level is not at par with that of her male colleague. Recommendation Despite the established structural issues around the pay gap in Walmart and globally, the following are recommendations on how to improve policy and practice. Equal Access to Flexibility, wage setting and job evaluation practices as Wharton(2012:218) states that job evaluation is a technique used to identify and correct a form of gender bias by ensuring that female dominated occupations are not paid lower wages than male dominated ones, strict government Legislation to monitor the representation of women in strategic positions of organizations. This legislation involves not only the Gender pay reporting where organizations must publish their gender pay data (The Fawcett Society,2017) which is being enforced presently but also the consideration and approval of ‘positive discrimination’; positive discrimination involves giving preference to a disadvantaged group (in this case, women) during recruitment and promotion. This positive discrimination presently has mixed reception in various countries, it is legal in South Africa, illegal in the UK, in the US it is known as ‘affirmative action’ and still has mixed reception but if approved and managed properly, it would re-evaluate organizations HRM policy and ‘force’ line managers to consciously give women preference during promotions so as to monitor the underrepresentation of women and curb the ‘glass ceiling idea’. There is no one superior approach to improving gender pay gap as each remedy above affects each other but focus will be given below on how Equal Access to Flexible working arrangements can be explored. Flexibility entails employees having the allowance to when they work or from where they do so(Powell,2013:361). However, Formankova&Krizkova(2015:227) state that this flexible working arrangements is often in marginalized positions in organizations and mostly on request thereby leading to a trap of low remuneration, underemployment and discrimination. This flexibility should be introduced to all job roles as House of Commons(2015) proposed: “Make all jobs flexible by default from the outset unless there is a strong and continuing business case for them not to be”. This encourages employees to negotiate with HR and line managers over their schedules and enables them to have a stable job that would improve work-life balance. This avoids missing hours which would tell on human capital and productivity during promotion as “assessment of one’s work commitment is often based on the number of work hours put in and competitive presenteeism”(Formankova & Krizkova,2015:227). They also state that “managerial and highly demanding professional positions can be executed on a part-time basis if the work environment is open towards accepting this arrangement”(p.235). It is believed that flexible arrangements are usually for lower paying jobs, not widely accessed and not consistently implemented in organizations (Teasdale, 2013:398). But if Walmart and other organizations can make the flexibility option for all positions including the highly ranked jobs, it would encourage not only the women but also men to take up flexible hours comfortably without affecting their productivity count during promotion considerations. By giving everyone equal access to flexible working arrangements, it will also give room for the men to be more available to take up family caring roles, thereby balancing out with the woman the hours she spends on family responsibilities. It will also neutralize co-worker relations and any extra pressure or resentment that comes with selective flexible arrangements especially from fellow women who choose to be childless(Teasdale, 2013:409). The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) equally state that: “Establishing a workplace culture where both men and women take parental leave, and flexible hours opportunities, further improves the chances of women being equally valued(Scott, 2016). As such, when women are equally valued, the jobs and roles dominated by women will also not be undervalued or underpaid thereby reducing vertical segregation. In-turn, the number of hours the woman would be out of job for family commitments would be reduced because the man is more flexible to supplement while she puts commitment in career progression. Conclusion. Gender pay gap issue continues to be pivotal in Walmart and the labour market globally. It cuts across the legal and social context of the organisation and the general society. There are various structural issues to include personal decisions, societal stereotype, company policy and practice that affect this gap, but the main factors include: Sex/Gender Segregation, Child-rearing roles/breaks and discrimination and these factors are visible in Walmart. There are various recommendations to include bridging policy and practice of the organisation and the role of government legislation but having equal access to flexible working arrangements is of utmost importance and would benefit not only women but also men. If organisations can implement this policy, it will improve the chances of women and their jobs being equally valued with that of the men.
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