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In continuation of Openness, Fairness, Merit and Equal Opportunities, the next tool for handling workplace diversity is Controlling Threats.
Controlling Threats – It may sound strange, but the workplaces are fraught with threats of various kinds. The major kind of threats include threats to respect, threats to career, threats to job, threats to income, threats to honor and threats even to life. These threats are relevant because these are usually based on some diversity factor.
Threats to respect are usually faced by lower income, lower position staff. The owners, managers and even some of the better placed staff find it easy to target them in disrespectful ways. It is important to understand that everyone has self-respect and that it must be regarded well. It is even more important to understand that hurting someone’s self-respect is quite painful and unsettling. It is likely to disturb psychologically with serious consequences.
Threats to career are shown by passing people over for promotions, making juniors become their senior and denying their rightful career advancement. Everyone works for long term career advancement, for getting higher position, for earning more money and for getting more benefits. If these are denied, work morale is seriously hurt. But it is not uncommon to see such injustices being done in the corporates.
Threats to career are more common. It is customary in some organizations to keep job threat permanently hanging in the air. Every now and then, it is exercised also to keep the fear running among staff so that they keep in line. The target of job threats are mostly people at the lower end. They cannot protest and they also fear they may not get another job and are forced to accept whatever conditions there may be.
Threats to income come in several ways, some of which may relate to the above. In addition, there is a tendency to withhold rightfully earned income for no justifiable reason. Incentive on sales is one such example in commercial organizations, and it is not always paid in routine in all organizations. It is rather at the discretion of manager who decides who will get it or not get it.
Threats to honor have been highlighted recently in several countries through #Metoo movement. Sexual harassment is an everyday issue in Pakistan also although it is rarely talked about. There would be hardly any organization where it is not happening in routine. However, it is not highlighted because women fear even greater backlash after expressing it and therefore prefer to keep quiet. Sexual harassment is also experienced by young men in various settings. In Pakistan, where child labor is rampant, sexual abuse is also rampant.
Threats to life do not come directly from seniors. However, the hapless employees are exposed to such dangerous work assignments and work conditions that a threat to life is imminent. From mine workers to WAPDA linemen to sweatshops labor to security guards to construction labor working on high rises and under tough weather conditions, threat to life is quite likely and keeps coming true unfortunately.
Controlling threats in workplaces is the legal and moral responsibility of the employer and management. It is also a much-desired tool for handing diversity in workplace. The workplaces must become secure places where the staff can work freely.
Compassion – Compassion is also a great tool for handling diversity. Compassion is never directed towards any particular group; it is an attitude which is applied equally to all. Compassion makes us treat others with care and understanding. It also makes us create an environment at workplace which is congenial, supportive, non-hostile and comfortable. Compassion does not mean compromising on performance; it means considering the people and situations holistically and bring holistic solutions.
We sum up our discussion on Handling Diversity at Workplace.
Our frame of reference is Pakistan, and the biggest factor upon which people here are discriminated against is socio-economic status. We judge people by what they have; not what they are. For this reason, the lower staff in any workplace becomes a target for poor treatment, ridicule and injustice. The employer and manager both consider people down there as expendable.
The second most important factor is gender discrimination. Women are marginalized, discriminated against, and treated in highly undesirable manner.
Handling Diversity at workplace well has a lot of rewards. The vibes of fairness, equal opportunity and security thus generated create a wonderful spirit among staff members. They would like to give their best willingly. The organization will be rewarded hugely and so will be people.