What Can We Do??? - CiteHR
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I would like to start a fresh topic. This is not just restricted to HR but it affects each and everybody in the work place and exist almost every where even though a very few could be clearly identified. In most cases no one address this issue because they are afraid of conflicts which may arise.

Clueless what I am talking about?????????

“Prejudice”!!!! Yes, it exists in the work place. May it be the skin color, sex, religion, culture and up bringing………….it sure does exist in some format. There are times when we our selves don’t know that we are holding prejudice against someone or something unless we clearly evaluate and ask our self the question.

In a world dominated by globalization prejudice is something we just can’t avoid. Take a large organization for an example, the CEO could be from US, a Director can be from Africa, a Managing Director could be a lady. Even though each of them do not clearly show their prejudice it does exist.

I asked one of my colleagues recently, a software developing consultant who works in Dubai, how he would feel about working under a woman. He said that he really doesn’t want to because certain feeling can’t be expressed to a female boss the way you can with a male boss and he went on with more reasons. Then I asked him based on what he came to these conclusions and he said almost a decade before he worked for a lady for some time before joining the current organization.

My question is, how does someone address prejudice in an organization? Who should approach this situation and what can be done to avoid this??

Prejudice affects promotions, team work, performance and overall growth. What can we do??

Hi Ashra,

This is what I have to contribute. I wrote something about Self Efficacy long time back, this has a lot to say about the prejudice we have for others consciiously and unconsciously.

If leaders want to control workers, they will lead in such a way that self-fulfilling prophecy will condition workers to do nothing unless closely supervised. If leaders want workers to assume responsibility, they must lead in such a way that self-fulfilling prophecy will condition workers to assume responsibility. Employee turnover sorts personalities, attracting people who fit the leader’s image and rejecting those who don’t, thus fulfilling the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Social Prejudice

Prejudice in any form, racial or social, is destructive and costly to society. Up until the ‘60s, society accepted racial prejudice, then the target of racial prejudice rebelled and society realized the destructive force of this attitude. Today, social prejudice is accepted by society and few realize its destructive force. It kills motivation and increases overhead cost in business. It forces students to drop out of school with a failure label that prevents them from discovering their natural talent. Self-fulfilling prophecy does the rest.

Prejudice believes other people are less capable than us. If we are managers and we think other people are less capable, then we will establish a management policy that reflects that belief. Through employee turnover and self-fulfilling prophecy, our opinion will be proven right.

Social prejudice is like any prejudice, "I am better than them, I come from a better neighborhood, I have a better education, and therefore I must make all the decisions." Prejudice in any form, racial or social, carries a heavy price, it lowers efficiency and increases overhead cost. Prejudice kills communications, innovation, motivation just to name a few attributes.

Social class is a prejudice barrier between white-collar and blue-collar employees. With leaders prejudice as a role model, other, lesser-defined social prejudice barriers develop in the organization. Departments will limit communication with other departments; craftsmen will consider production workers of low intelligence to name two. At each level, people believe lower levels have low capabilities and this becomes the mindset of the organization. Self-fulfilling prophecy proves everyone right.

Leaders with strong social prejudice use command-and-control leadership. Control is more important than getting the job done. Leaders and subordinates spend a great deal of time in the blame game. It is socially unacceptable for an engineer to ask advice from a front line employee.

Leaders who are free of social prejudice are willing to use responsibility leadership. Getting the job done is more important than control. Leaders and subordinates work together, searching for a better way. Leaders are free to ask advice from anyone at any level. Asking for advice has a motivating influence by itself.

Prejudice Influences Leadership Styles

In business, social prejudice has always been a barrier to the flow of information. Leadership likes the feeling of its power while the targets of prejudice tolerate it. During the industrial age, the speed of communications was not critical compared to today and the barriers, social prejudice produced, had limited effect. With today’s fast changing trends, there is a need for fast flowing quality information. Social prejudice reduces quality and slows the flow. Social prejudice is a chasm that separates information from the people who need it. Many leaders are too proud to reach across and ask for it, instead, they will ask someone for their opinion on their side of the chasm. In the technology age, information is needed from the source, not chain of command or someone’s theory. To stay competitive, work environments must be free of social prejudice and leaders must be willing to cross social class barriers to seek information.

command-and-control leadership is the most popular leadership style while being the least efficient. Why it is popular? Because it appeals to man's natural desire for power, control, and influence. It gives leaders a feeling of job security, of being needed and indispensable. It is disliked by people who must follow orders, especially when recipients feel the effects of social prejudice. Conflicts between managers and workers increases overhead cost. Managers spend much of their time finding ways to overcome worker's resistance while workers spend much of their time searching for ways to do less. Worker responsibility is a threat to leaders, because their ideas may be challenged, they may feel they are not in control, and they are uncomfortable with advice from those who they feel are inferior.

The reason command-and-control leadership makes money is because all of their competitors use the same management system. When a competitor empowers its workers, overhead costs come down and the command-and-control company will soon be out of business. This is how Wal-Mart stores’ is putting their competitors out of business.

Workers have the same natural desires, "My idea is best and I am in control." When it is the worker's idea and they are responsible, they will make their ideas work. Searching for a better way motivates workers, which makes them efficient. Efficiency is team effort, where everyone from the CEO to the janitor is considered to have valuable information. Team responsibility produces a highly efficient work environment. This environment is free of social prejudice.

A small, but growing number of businesses recognize that team responsibility is extremely efficient and that social prejudice is a major barrier. To make responsibility effective, they have policies that keep prejudices out of the system -

Wal-Mart is an example. In fact, this is the way startups can penetrate the turf of established companies - Southwest Airlines is an example. Many established companies recognize how small startups are gaining the market share and are trying to change the mindset of its workforce. During an economic down turn, surviving companies will be the ones who control social prejudice in the workplace and implement team responsibility concepts. The next generation of leaders will be free of social prejudice, will act as a coach and will delegate responsibility with decision-making powers.

The education system is a teacher and promoter of social prejudice. The system relates blue-collar skills to low ambition, because the system is run by intellectuals for intellectuals. Intellectuals do not want to be associated with blue-collar people; therefore, they teach high school students to set higher goals than vocational skills offer.

In the typical classroom, many students are technical talented and these students should be encouraged and given opportunity to develop this talent.

Technical talented students are not intellectuals, not being able to develop what they are best at, they dropout and become a burden on society.

School dropouts are the result of social prejudice in the classroom, it's not because they can't learn.

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