Research has demonstrated that the workplace is a miniature reflection of our society as a whole, meaning that work environments are subject to the same phenomena practiced in larger communities, and are thus affected by and perpetuate existing inequalities.
Inequalities in the workplace can be seen in various forms, from gender pay gaps to racial discrimination. These inequalities have a damaging effect on both employees and employers, resulting in lower morale, productivity, and higher turnover rates.
It is therefore essential for companies to address these issues head-on if they want to create an equitable workplace. This means recognizing the different types of inequality present in their organization, understanding their root causes, and taking proactive steps towards reducing them. Only then can we ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed at work and contribute meaningfully to their organization’s success.
Common & Most Often Challenges
Unfair Pay Structure
One of the most common and well-known forms of inequality in the workplace is unequal pay structures. This unfairness can come in many forms, including gender-based pay disparities, racial disparities, or other discriminatory practices that result in employees of a certain group being paid less than others with similar experience and qualifications. This type of unequal treatment is prohibited by anti-discrimination laws and employers must strive to ensure they are compensating all employees fairly and equitably based on their job duties and accomplishments.
Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities
Another form of discrimination within the workplace can involve the lack of career advancement opportunities for certain groups. This type of inequality may arise when positions are filled through informal agreements or nepotism instead of providing fair access to qualified individuals who could fill the role. Job postings should provide clear titles and expectations for desired positions, so that everyone has an equal opportunity to apply and compete for those positions regardless race, gender, or national origin.
Unhealthy work environment
In addition to unclear criteria for promotions or career advancements, workplace discrimination often creates an unhealthy work environment where discriminatory behavior goes unchallenged. For example, making derogatory comments about people’s race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, age or disability can create a hostile climate filled with tension and resentment that factors into decisions made throughout the company such as hiring choices or raises given out for performance reviews. Ensuring that everyone feels safe and accepted within the workplace will help create respect between coworkers as well as morale which is vital to any organization’s success right long-term growth strategy.
Harassment refers to unwelcome behaviors that make someone feel intimidated or emotional distress in their work environment. This includes physical threats or insults related to a person’s sex, race ethnicity, etc. Each organization needs to spell out its policies regarding harassment, define protective measures, and describes behavior that may take place among co-workers.
Unintentional biases are judgments made without realizing that is based on limited understanding which leads to unfair treatment and unfair decision-making. It adds a layer of subtle discrimination because these decisions may not be deliberate but can have profound effects over time.
Unintentional bias occurs for example when qualities and information used to evaluate applicants aren’t relevant to the job. Individuals must become more aware of their own opinions and biases in order to create structured environments that accept all backgrounds without potential exclusions due to different pieces’ of identity.
Lack or Limited Access to the Resources
This type of inequality refers to how one might have access to resources that another doesn’t. With the rise of the digital economy having access to the right technology skills puts some people steps ahead of the competition lacking such resources. The chances of people with lower economic backgrounds landing dream jobs dramatically decreases.
Cultural norms/expectations refer to traditions and lifestyles. While some inequalities are often associated with particular historical origins wide range of factors like religion, accommodation, educational background, and population density, are also among existing stereotypes that ultimately dictate perspectives.
Local businesses need to find an appropriate way to embrace cultural identities, shift barriers, adopt unique experiences, and create safe and secure welcoming atmospheres.
Global Outlook on Inequalities by ILO (International Labor Conference, Report IV)
There was already an emerging world consensus before the COVID-19 pandemic that high levels of inequality have adverse social, economic, and political consequences.1 Jonathan D. Ostry, Andrew Berg, and Charalambos G. Tsangarides, “Redistribution, Inequality, and Growth”, IMF Staff
The existence of high levels of inequality means in practice that millions of people are unable to meet their needs or those of their families, save for retirement or enjoy protection when they fall sick. It means that access to labor market opportunities is unfairly divided among men and women, the old and the young, indigenous peoples, migrants, people
with disabilities, and other groups. It means that jobs around the world are segmented by the level of reward and by the level of social and employment protection. A vast literature has demonstrated how these and other inequalities can have harmful effects on the pace and sustainability of economic growth and may result in environmental degradation, slow
down efforts to reduce poverty, erode social cohesion and increase the risk of social unrest or political instability.
Discussion Note SDN/14/02, 2014.
2 ILO, World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with Jobs, 2018; S. Nazrul Islam, “Inequality and Environmental
Sustainability”, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Working Papers, No. 145, 2015.
3 World Bank, Poverty, and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking On Inequality, 2016.
4 OECD, Under Pressure: The Squeezed Middle Class, 2019.