A literature review
|Equal Employment Opportunity, Representation, and Diversity
The process by which employees are selected and promoted in the public workplace is defined and supervised by the civil service process. The goals of the selection process are manifold, the techniques diverse. There are many problems and issues which are present in the public workplace, the civil service system, and the promotion process; the literature on the subject is quite encompassing of the situation as it has become an inherent aspect of public policy implementation; that of equal rights based on protected class. It is my claim that several specific themes emerge from the literature which reflect the common problems associated with the implementation of diversity in the workplace, and that several of the themes are inherently to blame for the troubles that have arisen. There can be many interceding problems that arise in attempting to define new policy guidelines, especially in regards to workforce diversity. Even presidential attempts for diversity have been thwarted as administrative agencies drag feet in an effort to resist presidential order, as President Truman discovered in 1948 when he issued an executive order to desegregate the military, which was not followed for several decades. (Kollman 2010)
The literature reflects several common themes that are a factor to the current status of diversity in the workplace. Cultural differences or perceptions are quite often seen to emerge as factors. Asian-Americans, Hispanics, African-Americans, and women were the specifically targeted affected minorities throughout most of the reading while there was a brief account of white men who sometimes feel as if they suffer from “reverse discrimination”.
Asian Americans are generally lower income than the U.S. average and non-Hispanic whites. Though culturally an intelligent and hard working people, literature showed that they are not able to advance as quickly as they should; and that education, while a small factor, still didn’t give them the advantage that it did to white males. (Kim 1994)
The workforce expects certain criteria be met in the workplace, and those criteria create a “psychological contract” between employer and employee. Violations of this contract have been shown to negatively affect organizational outcomes, including lack of trust, and heavy turnover. (Buttner, Lowe & Harris, 2012) though mostly one sided, and never expressed, it seems that workers develop a belief that workplace loyalty is a two way flow and they expect their employers to have their best interest in mind and to be firm, fair and consistent in decision making. In the event that there is a layoff, or a promotion that was close and therefore questionable, it is the nature of some employees, depending on their culture and outlook, to feel injured and even betrayed if he or she is on the losing end.
And yet another example of cultural difference can be seen in the attitudes expressed towards the practice of affirmative action. Those affected positively by the process see it as a method of compensatory retribution for past wrongs, as do those who are opposed to affirmative action, who often labels it as being “reverse discrimination”. By certain positions being held specifically for minority workers, they feel that they will be kept out of positions and promotions that they would have been better qualified for than members of protected classes. (Nigro, Nigro & Kellough, 2007) This can be seen as “subjective discrimination”, the belief by a person that he or she is being discriminated against based on race, whether or not any real discrimination actually exists. (Thompson, 2003)
Cultural assumptions are damaging to women especially, as it is usually assumed that women can’t relocate as easily as men, or that family ties will require that they not be able to work late or have the same commitment to the job that a man will have. (Thompson, 2003) So not only assumptions and inconclusive notions of effected classes can be a factor in determining the effective implementation of workplace integration, but so can the cultural assumptions of those outside a protected class who make decisions regarding their place on the job.
The theme of glass ceilings is prevalent as well; this notion of minorities being able to rise through the ranks to a specific point and no further. In 1990, Asians held only 73 of 8,136 SES positions while white males held 92 percent of same. (Pan Suk Kim & Gregory B. Lewis, 1994) The question is then asked whether this presents evidence of a glass ceiling for Asian Americans, whereas they are restricted from positions of power normally reserved for white males. The evidence it seems leads to that inference. (Pan Suk Kim & Gregory B. Lewis, 1994) The evidence even shows that Asians are more apt to be a member of a professional field than whites of the same background and education, while they are less likely to hold administrative occupations than whites. (Pan Suk Kim & Gregory B. Lewis, 1994)
It is interesting to note that the EPA showed the greatest equality progress overall; however, even it was not consistent in having more upper level female employees, and there is evidence of glass ceilings even in agencies that strive for equality. (Gregory B. Lewis, 1994) Studies show that women do face barriers to advancement even though those studies don’t show what those barriers are; they are not related to their qualifications. (Thompson, 2003) Research also indicates that marriage and children can adversely affect a woman’s advancement opportunities, but not necessarily a man’s, because mobility is important in many cases. And the study further shows that seniority and education are important factors of advancement and may explain partially why women are not in the same percentile as men in management, the men have simply been in the positions longer. And on average women who have comparable seniority don’t have the needed education. (Thompson, 2003) This seems to make sense in the fact that affirmative action has only been strongly pursued in the past several decades and one should expect the numbers to even out as time progresses.
College degrees have proven to be a factor for Asian Americans over time, especially those who have graduate degrees, and there are constant gaps between those with higher education versus a high school diploma only. (Pan Suk Kim & Gregory B. Lewis, 1994) Though it is not mentioned in the literature it can be assumed that past conflicts with Asian Americans such as the conflict with Japan during WWII, and the Vietnam War may have some factor in the difficulty of integration of Asian Americans as cultural bias is still fresh in the minds of some who are in power and who make decisions regarding the hiring and advancement of employees.
There is an emerging trend of agency mission evolving to formulate with government legislation. As mentioned earlier, even presidential order isn’t always substantial for changing bureaucracy quickly, and it is easy to understand that persons in positions of power, who are resistant to change - especially change that goes against their own moral code - will drag their feet in attempt to prolong that change, or cancel it out entirely. If government bureaucracy isn’t able to effectively change itself and create adequate and lawful integrated agencies, then it is not going to be effective in mandating change in the private sector either. (Nigro, Nigro & Kellough, 2007)
Most agency variation in the status of women is dependant on the agencies distinct mission. In other words, the mission determines the woman’s status within the organization. (Gregory B. Lewis, 1994)
The EPA showed the greatest equality of women as a result of its mission. (Gregory B. Lewis, 1994)
Since the 1970’s studies have shown that Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been the most successfully integrated governmental entity overall, with its ranks more successfully representing the clientele which it serves. (J. Edward Kellough 1990)
Agency size is a determinant of representation, with smaller agencies being better able to successfully integrate than larger more complex ones. Union strength is another factor that affects integration, and it does so positively. While this notion is the opposite of what is expected from union presence, studies show that at least on the federal level, unions are not a hindrance for affirmative action and EEO. (J. Edward Kellough 1990)
After the legislation of the 1960’s, discriminatory practices were tackled legally, but in present day diversity is seen as good business so that representative bureaucracy has become a method of reflecting the clientele. (Buttner, Lowe & Harris, 2012)
The act of pre-positioning is that of letting a person act in an advanced role as a temporary replacement to another so that they can get the experience of the job, and is therefore better able to acquire that job. Many women have found this practice beneficial to their careers as they are able to prove themselves on a temporary level and managers are more apt to let them have conditional opportunities like that than they are to commit them to a permanent one. (Thompson, 2003)
Limitation of resources/degenerative values/impracticalities
Public policy was neglectful of the AIDS epidemic as long as it was limited to gay males and drug users. Once it became more widespread and “innocent” victims came into play, the public opinion then became jaded and AIDS became an issue of concern. (Gregory S. Thielemann 1996).
Political support/representative bureaucracy
Representative bureaucracy is another strong theme that emerges, and there are two areas of thought to be considered when contemplating the reason for it.
Legislation should be reflected by agency mission, and a representative bureaucracy is undoubtedly what legislation expects to exhibit. In the literature, a representative bureaucracy is seen as a good that should be provided by government in order to better serve the clientele, in this instance, the public. (Gregory S. Thielemann 1996).
Because resources are so volatile, if persons living with AIDS were to be represented in the bureaucracy as minorities, they would find themselves competing with others for funds and services, and there is evidence that group competition results between subpopulations such as women and ethnic minorities. (Gregory S. Thielemann 1996).
A truly representative bureaucracy offers legitimacy to governmental functions because it creates vital political support for the agency. And as the public profile changes, so too should the bureaucracy. (Gregory S. Thielemann 1996).
A clear majority of Hispanics and African-Americans were concerned about receiving services from their own ethnic groups, and were clearly more concerned about who actually provided the services as opposed to who ran the agency. As did persons living with AIDS.(Gregory S. Thielemann 1996).
Affirmative action for compensatory justice
EEO is not just for righting a wrong, or creating compensatory justice, rather, it is enacted to create a more representative bureaucracy and to show administrative responsibility to the political framework of the people being served in a certain geographical area. (J. Edward Kellough 1990)
Kollman, K. (2010). Readings in American politics, analysis and perspectives. W W Norton & Co Inc.
Pan Suk Kim, P., & Gregory B. Lewis, (1994). Asian Americans in the public service: Success, diversity, and discrimination. Public Administration Review, 54 no.3(May-Jun 1994), 285-290.
Gregory B. Lewis, (1994). Asian Americans in the public service: Success, diversity, and discrimination. Public Administration Review, 54 no.3(May-Jun 1994), 271-276
Gregory S. Thielemann, G., & Joseph Stewart Jr., J. (1996). A demand-side perspective on the importance of representative bureaucracy: Aids, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Public Administration Review, Vol. 56 No. 2(March-April), 168-173.
J. Edward Kellough, (1990). Integration in the public workplace: Determinants of minority and female employment in federal agencies. Public Administration Review, (September/October), 557-566.
Buttner, E., Lowe, K., & Harris, L. (2012). An empirical test of diversity climate dimensionality and relative effects on employee of color outcomes. J Business Ethics, 110, 247-258.
Nigro, L., Nigro, F., & Kellough, J. E. (2007). The new public personnel administration. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Pub Co.
Thompson, F. J. (2003). Classics of public personnel policy. (Third ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.