As we have discussed throughout this course, understanding how the workplace functions often requires an understanding of where ideas came from, and how they developed over the course of our history. Our ideas of equality and equity have massive ramifications for the corporate workplace, and related issues such as equal pay, education, and discrimination are widely debated in our national discussions. Most workplace environments involve some type of power dynamics. Often the hierarchy of control and power distance among top ranking managers and executives versus mainstream employees is recognized and felt whether that is the desire or not.
According to Mason (2014), “equality of opportunity” refers to the ability of people to “compete on equal terms” in their workplace for positions. This idea is supported by the idea that jobs should be open to anyone and that the process for selecting the person for the job should focus on identifying the best qualified candidates. “Equality of opportunity” can also be found in varying parts of American society in that it gives new avenues of opportunities for individuals. According to Waggle (2012), “Healthcare, education, and social security are some essential ingredients to maintain equality of opportunity. “
Equality and equity are terms which are often used interchangeably. However, as noted by SGBA eLearning Resource (n.d., para. 2), the two concepts are different.
SGBA eLearning Resource states:
Equity, as we have seen, involves trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full, healthy lives. Equality, in contrast, aims to ensure that everyone gets the same things in order to enjoy full, healthy lives. Like equity, equality aims to promote fairness and justice, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same things (n.d., para. 2).
In the areas of employment and politics, there are anti-discrimination laws which ensure social equality such as the American Disability Act, Environmental Policy Act, and Title VII (L&E Global Knowledge Center, 2018). The American Disability Act “is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” (ADA National Network, n.d.). The Environmental Policy Act is the United States environmental law that promotes protecting and enhancing the environment. Title VII is the federal law that prohibits discrimination by employers. Employees cannot be discriminated against based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.
Listed below are some ways that equality and equity impact workplace culture in America today:
1. To maintain equality, many companies are reducing the pay gap between male and female workers.
2. In another move to provide equality in the workplace, business recognize that managerial positions are largely held by male employees. The vision is to start to even out the scale and provide more opportunities for females to engage in managerial roles.
3. One way that equity impacts the workplace culture today is by companies recognizing that physical fitness and good health is something they want from their employees. Some companies have started rewarding employees with an on-site gym or have given their employees access to physical fitness tips and help.
4. Equity focuses on quality of life. In today’s work culture, the value of family and personal reflective time is starting to emerge. Some companies offer daycare support for employees with small children. There are also businesses that find that rewarding employees with monthly massages or yoga sessions can improve company morale.
5. A linear company structure is evidence of equality in American workplace culture today. A linear structure provides all employees the ability to provide input and help with company changes, policies, and evolvement. It is very different from a traditional “top down” company structure where only the top executives make the decisions for the business.
“Power distance” and “power dynamics” are often misunderstood concepts. Let’s begin by defining each. “Power distance” refers to how power is distributed and the way in which those without power accepted that the power is not distributed equally. “Power dynamics,” on the other hand, refers to the way power works in a given situation. The Japanese internment camps provide an example of “power dynamics”. The Japanese Americans were placed into internment camps because of their heritage. The “power distance” of this situation can be seen as the power was not equally distributed but instead distributed in the government’s favor and those with less power (the Japanese Americans) accepted and expected the power to fall unfairly. The “power dynamics” of the situation speaks of the government having the majority of the power as the freedom and power of the Japanese Americans was hindered at that time. Fast forward to modern times, and “power distance” and “power dynamics” are found in the workplace. For example, the power distance dictates your decision to speak up in meetings with supervisors. When the power dynamics are understood, you feel comfortable to speak with the appropriate person regarding your employment or questions about a particular order. Your power distance also determines whether you are willing to continue your employment based on whether you agree with the power distribution.
To learn more on equity and equality, please watch the video below. Three notes from the video:
Ideas of equality began with Aristotle.
Equality is everyone being treated the same.
Equity is everyone being treated proportional to their need.
(7:31 min) Historical Development of the Law of Equity
ADA National Network. (n.d.). What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Retrieved from https://adata.org/learn-about-ada (Links to an external site.)
L&E Global Knowledge Center. (2018). Anti-Discrimination Laws in USA. Retrieved from http://knowledge.leglobal.org/anti-discrimination-laws-in-usa/ (Links to an external site.)
Mason, A. (2014, September 07). Equality of opportunity. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/equality-of-opportunity (Links to an external site.)
SGBA eLearning Resource: Rising to the Challenge. (n.d.). Distinguish between Equity and Equality. Retrieved from http://sgba-resource.ca/en/concepts/equity/distinguish-between-equity-and-equality/ (Links to an external site.)
Wagle, U. R. (2012). American Exceptionalism and Equality of Opportunities. Retrieved from https://patimes.org/american-exceptionalism-equality-opportunity/
In a posting of at least 150 words with one properly cited reference (the readings or videos from class are fine), answers the following questions:
. Think about your future career. In your opinion, if you could only have either equality or equity, which would you rather see and why?
. Think about “power distance” and “power dynamics”. Describe one way that the United States currently demonstrates high “power distance” and one way the United States demonstrates low “power distance” (in a historical context). How do these both affect “equality of opportunity” in today’s workplace? How are “power dynamics” evident in today’s workplace and how has “equality of opportunity” changed “power dynamics” from what it once was? Explain the reasoning behind your example.
. How do our ideas about equality and equity affect our ideas of “power distance”? How is this illustrated in your career?
For your citation, you might use articles that show examples of how the United States currently demonstrates high power distance. You can also find articles from experts that suggest how our ideas of equality and equity affect our ideas of power distance.