Challenges Facing Organizations: Avoiding Sexual Discrimination Lawsuits

challenge facing orgsChallenges Facing Organizations

All organizations are at risk for sexual discrimination lawsuits. In 2006, Boeing paid more than $70 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by female employees and Morgan Stanley paid over $50 million to settle a similar suit that same year. Lawsuits against large corporations make the front page of the newspaper or the evening news, but that does not mean that small companies are excused from these types of lawsuits. Nearly half of all sex-discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2006 were against companies with less than 200 employees. Smaller organizations may be even more vulnerable than larger organizations because they may be less likely to have a formal sex-discrimination policy in place.

Dealing with the Challenging Issues

The first step in dealing with these issues would be for companies to comply with the laws already in place to deal with this subject. This seems like an obvious suggestion but organizations need to be aware of the laws imposed by the EEOC and others and make sure they are in compliance. Companies should also advocate promoting diversity at all organizational levels as well as promoting inclusion of all employees into the organizational culture (Powell & Graves, 2003). Discrimination laws in this country can be extremely costly to a firm. In addition to fines, legal fees and punitive damages; a company can suffer irreparable damage to their reputation, loss of morale among their employees, loss of productivity and loss of confidence by their stakeholders. As the labor force becomes more diverse organizations have little choice but to become less homogeneous. Women are more prepared now than ever to enter the work force as they continue to earn advanced degrees and bring varied experiences to the work place. A recent study of Fortune 500 companies found that those companies that had a high proportion of women in their top management positions, had greater profitability than those that did not (Powell & Graves, 2003).

Diversity Goals

All organizations regardless of their size or type of business need to set goals in regards to what they wish to accomplish regarding diversity, non-discrimination and inclusion. Once the goals are set, the company needs to monitor these goals to make sure they are implementing the plans correctly. Communication across and between all levels of the organization is paramount to the success of achieving the companies diversity goals. Those departments and/or individuals, who are complying with the goals, should be rewarded whereas those who are not should be reprimanded. Management has to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for non-compliance. Employees should be involved in as many ways as possible. They can set up a mentoring program, interest groups, newsletters, and bulletin boards encourage the flow of communication.

Diversity Education

Ongoing education for all members of the firm is imperative to a successful diversity program. Diversity education should be mandatory not voluntary as allowing voluntary participation suggests that management does not take it seriously. Implementing a change to a current company culture can be difficult but if all departments work together and plans are put into place, the results can be rewarding for everyone involved.