Equal Pay and the Glass Ceiling

Inequalities in gender are existent in the business environment and they have been affecting the approach that women have been using in the work place. Discriminatory employment practices in the workplace environment are as a result of the patterns of behaviors that exist in the society in general. The discriminatory practices have been affecting the performance of women in the workplace and the economy as a whole. Women have not had the same treatment as the men in the work place due to barriers that exist which limit the positions that women can take up.

The discrimination has also been experienced in the remuneration that the women get for the work and jobs that they undertake. There are invisible barriers that exist in the business environment that contribute to the unequal treatment. Human resource management has a perspective on these key issues that affect the women more than the men. This paper discusses equal pay and the glass ceiling as two keys issues that affect women in the work place giving insights from a human resource perspective. 2. 0 Equal Pay The issue of pay being different for the men and the women has been a subject of interest at the work place.

This is due to the fact that women are discriminated against when it comes to their remuneration even though they do the same kind of work that men do, and they have the same qualifications. The differences in the pay are found across all levels of the labor market where women are disproportionately represented in low paying occupations. In the year 1999, studies showed that women earned 75 cents for every dollar that the men made (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1999). The arguments that are given for the pay differences among the women are based on several reasons among them their long term commitment.

It is said that women tend to have higher turnover rates than the men due to their family responsibilities. 80% of women at the work place end up bearing children with a quarter of the women taking part time jobs after wards (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1999). The women then tend to spend a higher percentage of time taking care of their families. It is for this reason that most employers give the women lower pay since they spend most of their time at home taking up responsibilities in motherhood rather than in employment.

For the childless women however, their pay has been totaled that of men by 95% in the year 1991 (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1999). Other reasons that are attributed to the unequal pay for the women are their educational levels and their experience. Women tend to be segregated from some of the jobs that exist in the work environment. The kinds of jobs that provide high pay are normally held by the men and the women constantly find themselves in these jobs that pay less and that provide fewer opportunities for advancements and pay increases.

The job environment is also male dominated and the women are underrepresented in the work places to raise their issues and be heard. The jobs that are regarded as women jobs are the jobs that are regarded to have skills that are not highly valued hence their pay is not as high. These jobs are those that have care giving and supporting roles such as the nursing jobs (Reportage, 2010). Human resource management seeks to ensure that there is equal pay between the men and the women. Labor laws that govern the employees’ remuneration dictate that there should be equal pay for the employees despite their gender.

The international labor organization has made the concept of equal pay for the value of work done as one of the founding principles of the organization. Human resource managers ensure that these principles are followed at the workplace by ensuring that the men and the women receive the remuneration for work of the same value. The equality clause that has been placed in the Equal Pay Act of 1970 enforces the equal terms of contract for the men and women for the same job (Bratton & Gold, 2001).

Job evaluations should be carried out to ensure that the same kind of work is rated equivalently for all the workers despite their gender. 3. 0 Glass Ceiling The glass ceiling is a concept that has been challenging women in the workplace as they try to advance their careers. The glass ceiling refers to the invisible barrier that exists in the work place that prevents employees especially women from advancing to the top positions or acquiring promotions. The employees normally have the qualifications and the capabilities together with the experience to advance their careers.

The women miss out on the promotions for the reasons that they are women and the men are given the promotions based on their merit and achievements. This is despite the fact that the women have the same qualifications that the men have or even better. In the U. S. for example only 5% of the women take up executive positions in the corporations though there are many women in management positions (Savage, 2002). In other countries such as Brazil, France, Germany and other countries these percentages are much lower (Mathis & Jackson, 2008 ).

Studies carried out on the presence of women in the top notch positions in some of the public companies that are valued at more than $100 million have revealed that women only hold 18% of the 716 executive positions. 15 of these companies did not have no woman in the top level positions with 21 companies having not even one woman in the board (Harris, 2006). The causes of the glass ceiling in the workplace for the women include structural and cultural practices that exist in the job environment that lead to these hindrances for the women to take up the top notch jobs.

Some of the reasons are also influenced by prejudices and lack of support for the women to take up these roles. Structural changes and downsizing changes have also led to the glass ceiling and placing disproportionate effects on women who have managed to break the glass ceiling. Several approaches have been used by the human resource managers to help break the glass ceiling in the work place. Job evaluations and performance appraisals are being used to establish the best candidates that can take up the roles in the top executive jobs.

This ensures that the candidates are chosen according to their merit and ability and not due to their gender. Compensation incentives tend to encourage the women that are suitable for the job to apply for these positions and support them once they get them. The recruitment and selection is carried out with a view to expand the pool of the candidates. The human resource personnel identify the candidates that are suitable from non customary sources to develop a pool of candidates that have different backgrounds and experiences that are important and useful for the jobs.

The employees are also educated about the strengths and challenges that they are likely to face when applying for the job. These challenges may be due to their race, gender, cultural and ethnic differences. To encourage the women to apply for the jobs and break the glass ceiling, the human resource professionals also create programs that help women to balance their work and their families. The work environment is also made family friendly in a way that does not affect the performance of the women and their responsibilities at home.

They strive to ensure that the organization follows a culture that hires the employees on the basis of their performance and merit (Sims, 2007). 4. 0 Conclusion Women have faced discrimination at the workplace that has led them to take up other jobs in smaller companies due to the frustrations that they have faced in the big companies. They have been paid lower wages than the men for the same work done. Measures put up by labor organizations and the human resource management can however improve the situation.

The legislation provided by the labor organizations are challenging the discriminatory practices at the work places to allow for equal treatment of women. Human resource management professionals are abiding to these laws and policies and this is improving the work environment for the women. Reference List American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. (1999). Equal Pay for Equal Work. The American Enterprise , 15. Bratton, J. , & Gold, J. ( 2001). Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge. Harris, C. (2006, November 15). Women still struggling to break the glass ceiling.

Retrieved July 27, 2010, from SeattlePI: http://www. seattlepi. com/specials/glassceiling/292359_glassceiling-main15. html Mathis, R. L. , & Jackson, J. H. (2008 ). Human resource management. Ohio: Cengage Learning. Reportage. (2010, April 14). Why women earn less than men. Retrieved July 27, 2010, from Reportage: http://www. reportageonline. com/2010/04/why-women-earn-less-than-men/ Savage, A. (2002). The Real Glass Ceiling: It’s Not What You Think. T&D , 49. Sims, R. R. (2007). Human resource management:contemporary issues, challenges, and opportunities. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing.