There are many struggles that employees have to face in the workplace, and while some of them are easy to solve, some are systematic, which is more challenging to deal with. One such issue is discrimination in the workplace that people may experience for different reasons from their colleagues and bosses (Jameel and Yerardi, 2019). The case described in the paper represents gender discrimination and stereotypical ideas about the role of women in the workplace and in society as a whole.
Numerous misunderstandings regarding female workers occur in large organizations. The selected conflict emerged at a paper company with 13 branches all over the United States. Each department has its regional manager, who is responsible for the office. The issue appeared between David, the regional manager, and sales manager Margaret in the New York branch. She works in the sales department, has recently married and has gone on a honeymoon for three weeks. She was employed on a yearly contract, which was annually expanded due to her good work performance and big sales that significantly contributed to the company’s profit. Her current contract should have expired approximately two months after returning from her honeymoon. She did not worry about it, expecting the contract to be renewed as usual.
The other stakeholder was David, who had different thoughts about the situation. He was aware that by the time of the wedding, she was already three months pregnant. She said that her coworker Mary was also part of a sales team, and during some corporate events, she mentioned in the conversation with the branch manager. The organization was undergoing structural renovations, and David thought that he could use the opportunity and replace her with a new employee, predominantly male, to ensure stability. David refused to renew the contract after Margaret returned from her honeymoon due to the planned pregnancy. He firmly believed that her pregnancy would negatively affect the branch’s productivity.
Nonetheless, when the issue cannot be solved efficiently, there is a need to attract a third party. When Margaret learned about it, she resorted to the human resource (HR) manager Pete, demanding to deal with the issue and renew her contract since it was mere discrimination. He decided to inform the CEO of the company Mark to think of a solution together since the problem was becoming more severe and was challenging the corporate values. Ultimately, a lawsuit was threatened, which would negatively impact the company’s reputation.
The direct participant, David, believed that there was no demonstration of sexism in his actions, and he thought this was a purely pragmatic approach to the situation. He was convinced that once Margaret had a baby, her priorities might change, and she might not even return to the job after the maternity leave. He proposed to pay her generous compensation and hire a new person who would stay for a long period and give them the education to increase the company’s effectiveness and maintain the revenue at the same level.
Each of the involved participants has a particular perception of the situation. Margaret, the direct stakeholder, was convinced that she was facing sex discrimination in the workplace from the feminist perspective (Sociology Group, 2022). She thought that was going against the corporate culture, which promotes equity and strives to maintain a safe space for employees of each gender, race, and sexual orientation. Margaret claimed that her boss did not want to deal with some aspects of maternity, which was an inevitable part of any woman’s life, demonstrating no respect towards her. She also stated that there was a chance that other women in the company might experience the same issue and want to report the problem directly to the board director.
The indirect stakeholder, Mary, preferred to avoid participating in the conflict and rather stay neutral than have a clear opinion regarding her. She understood the viewpoint of both sides and emphasized simultaneously with Mary and David equally. She did not want to accept that discrimination in the workplace could exist and interpreted this as a misunderstanding. Pete was perfectly aware of the issue’s roots and had enough professional experience to see that David had made a mistake. He had to deal with similar occasions before but still believes that it is not entirely a discrimination case.
Pete, who indirectly participated in the decision-making process, also saw it as a lack of communication, which resulted in conflict. Mark’s position regarding the question was similar to Margaret’s because he was highly interested in maintaining a healthy working environment. Any violations connected with the corporate culture were perceived as serious matters and had negative consequences for those who did not follow the regulations. Mark cared a lot about the company’s reputation and wanted to resolve the issue in Margaret’s favor to avoid accusations of systematic sexism.
The root of the conflict comes from the feminist perspective, which demonstrates the lack of understanding and tolerance towards the woman’s nature and the cynical perception of the female employees. At some point, the management starts prioritizing not the people who work where, their feelings and contribution, but the productivity and effectiveness. Such an approach shifts the focus from the care for the employees, especially women, who often have to deal with discrimination and misunderstanding at their jobs from their male coworkers. The potential challenges are a bad reputation, issues with the law, and increased public awareness. The exposed threats are likely to appear online and ruin the company’s image. However, the company could use this case as an opportunity to create equal working conditions. Nonetheless, the consequences of the solid patriarchal systems still affect female employees and create unpleasant and sometimes even unsafe working conditions.
What is a feminist perspective? An overview. Sociology Group.
Jameel, M., & Yerardi, J. (2019). Workplace discrimination is illegal. But our data shows it’s still a huge problem. Vox.