Taboo of Women in Management Case Study

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components of the situation.

The few most important components of the case consist of:

Burns & McAllister's reputation as an equal opportunity employer

B&M's expanding business in other nations where culture doesn't support women in management

Company's compliance with cultural values and norms of other countries instead of applying equal opportunity employment policy universally

NOW's opposition that companies should not accept cultural norms of other nations but instead but allow women to prosper the same way everywhere

NOW believes this is the only way change can be introduced everywhere


Define exactly the problems and/or issues that are involved. (Research)

We understand that BM is not talking about western countries when it says that some of the countries where it does business do not allow women at senior positions. We know they are talking about Asian countries especially countries like Japan and China which are still far behind western countries when it comes to acceptance of women at positions of power in corporations. During the Cultural Revolution, social science research was not seen with a favorable view. Also Asian countries closed its doors to foreigners and still it is difficult for Westerner to adopt policies supporting women without a possible scrutiny by the government. Despite all this women over the years have penetrated the fields of university teaching, scientific research, medicine, management etc. However, the number of women in higher management positions is much less than the number of men in the management cadre. Men rather than women occupy particularly top-level positions. Though women have reached positions of factory production managers, workshop directors, chief accountants etc. But like any other place in the world their career growth to top levels is slow and difficult to say the least. Government has also over the years taken measures to assure that women reach managerial positions. Regulating hiring practices, setting quotas, policies and procedures to deal with sex discrimination in the workplace etc. are some actions taken by the governments of these countries. Let us take the example of China where discrimination against women is found in every aspect of corporate world including age of retirement. "Chinese women suffer the same types of discrimination that appear in many other societies. They are under-represented in management and politics, they are concentrated in low paying jobs that offer few possibilities for advancement, and they perform most of the household chores and child care" (Summerfield, 1994).

Women in these cultures experience slow career growth and progress to top management positions. Stereotypes associated with women and their roles that are deeply entrenched in feudal system still exist. These stereotypes not only affect the way people in work environment deal with women but they also affect the way women perceive themselves and their and other women's role in society. For example Chinese women are stereotyped as shy and lacking in taking initiatives and so key leadership positions evade them because these positions require them to be bold and to be able to take the risks and initiatives. "Moreover, women's self-confidence is often undermined by their acceptance of the Confucian adage that "it is a virtue if a woman has no ability" (Korabik, 1993). Society also supports the concept of ability of men and so women in many cases also suffer from inferiority complex. Even media and fiction depict women as subordinates rather than leaders. All these stereotypes and concepts inculcate an inferior and suppressive outlook to women and so their motivation to achieve higher goal are greatly affected. Women in leadership positions are also considered unfair, disorganized, narrow-minded, and hard to work with. Less educated people are more likely to resist and dislike women leaders than the educated populace. That is why the situation is graver in rural areas where the concept of a woman being obedient to their fathers, husbands, and sons still exist. Mostly women do not feel problems when they are dealing or working in areas or organizations that are women oriented with greater women workforce or where men working there are small in number or less educated or less skilled. Women in many cases cannot easily access educational and training opportunities, and certain types of jobs. The disparity in the literacy rates of men and women also shows that lack of education is also a reason why women could not move ahead in work environment as well as their male counterparts. Even though women were given opportunities to work but the docile, weak and shy stereotypes also affect the kind of work given to them Some works are given to men and are considered too manly for women to do. For example, women could be given quality control work or simple tasks of packing etc. while men are assigned more mechanical works.
Women are generally restricted to the non-technical jobs while technical fields are open for men. This segregation of jobs also results in the disparity in pays given to men and women.

Describe what makes this an ethical issue.

The inability of women to reach positions of power or even any specific position like accounts etc. spells presence of high discrimination in any culture and discrimination of this kind is simply unethical. For one they wrongly argue that women are not promoted to high management positions because they are not interested in such jobs. This is again against ethics and moral system because everyone should get a fair chance at rising to a higher level regardless of gender. By not allowing them to rise, some cultures are reinforcing the myth of glass ceiling thus capping the progress of dedicated and hardworking female staff.

These cultures are wrong in assuming that female workers are not interested in management positions. This is because every single person works for a rise. They seek promotions based on hard work and dedication. It appears that sex discrimination is encouraged or at least highly tolerated in these cultures. This shows that some cultures are deliberately keeping women out of management positions because they believe that men are the ones who run families and not women. It is a very chauvinistic and patriarchic approach which is so in contrast with what America and Americans stand for. This is an example of open sex discrimination because sex discrimination occurs when "a person or people are unfairly treated in the work context because of gender."(Crosby et al. 2007, p. 3)

As much as possible describe the background of the issues or problems.

NOW is an organization that works for the protection of women rights. This organization is concerned over B&M's decision to respect certain cultural norms that do not allow women at some kind of jobs and meetings. The company feels that by respecting these norms it can work better with those countries. NOW however doesn't see the respect issue here, it is mainly concerned about B&M inability to stick with the policy of fairness which should have been its policy when working abroad. B&M needed to convince other country partners that it believes in women rights and hence would allow women to work at all levels and in all positions regardless of what cultural norms are present in that country. NOW has a very valid argument against the policy adopted by B&M but on the other hand, B&M is also not wrong in its stand because it feels that others will not even listen to women in certain positions and this can jeopardize their business and also their relations with their partners.

5. Are there terms that have to be defined (define them)

Stereotypes: Viewing a group or individual as someone conforming to their popular image in the media or public.

Glass ceiling: inability of women to reach certain positions because of the presence of an invisible barrier

What are your options?

Some of the options available to B&M are as follows:

B&M can stick with what it is doing and ignore the protests made by NOW.

B&M can listen to NOW and change its policy to the ones that prevalent in the U.S.

B&M can conduct meetings with people in other cultures and present its proposal to include women in certain positions and then see what they have to say.

In my opinion the best option would be to bring change slowly. It is true that women need to be at any position they are capable of handling and gender should not play a role in deciding where they should be placed. However since some cultures are not so open to this kind of change, it is important to bring change slowly and not attack them with too many women at too many positions.

7. Why did you choose this option? (Be very precise)

Slow and gradual change must be introduced because firms need to adopt a uniform recruitment policy for each and every culture. If there are no women applicants for a position that's a different case but if there are some talented women applying then they should be included without taking their gender into consideration. However….....

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