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Problems Facing Managers Trying To Implement Equal Opportunities In China

Introduction
Countries or companies trying to implement equal opportunities need to accommodate diverse members of their workforce. They need to include youth in recruitment and they should also not shy away from the elderly population when considering recruitments or promotions. Leaders dealing with equal opportunity must also take account of the fact that certain communities may be sidelined. This is especially common in countries hosting migrant workers. Such companies need to encourage best practice implementation within their organisations. This will ensure that employees are granted a platform to perform well. (Heidi Brinkman, 1997)
Managers need to ensure that there are certain social dimensions incorporated in their management practise. It is also crucial to remember gender issues in the delicate act of employee management. There are certain societies where women may receive fewer opportunities in job acceptance while there may be others where policies tend to make it more difficult for them to climb up the ladders of their careers. Gender stereotypes must be eliminated from organisations. Gender mainstreaming issues need to receive a lot of attention in this regard. Persons with disabilities must also be included in this issue. They should not be discriminated against and due laws in that area need to be followed to the letter.
Problems facing managers trying to implement Equal opportunities in China
Gender issues
In China, the creation of the gender ministry was created fairly recently. This came about as result of international pressure. China realised that certain countries like Australia and United Kingdom had serious antidiscrimination laws for their citizens. Therefore in the year 1993, China followed suite. Consequently, there are still many volunteer groups, government bodies and other non-governmental groups that have recently taken interests in gender related issues. It would therefore be wise for managers in China to familiarise themselves with these bodies. Managers have to make sure that their decisions concur with Chinese legislations and values held by these gender bodies. China is also part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. (APEC). This is an international body that deals with numerous economic issues include equal opportunities in the Asian Continent. It should also be noted that China modelled its equal opportunities legislations after the United Kingdom. Managers who may not be aware of those legislations may find it difficult to implement equal opportunities in that region. (Brown, 1995)
After considering necessary legislations, managers who may have the goodwill to accommodate women fairly in their organisations may face obstacles in the process of trying to make sure that the latter group grow in their careers. Currently, the Chinese government has not instituted laws that allow child care provisions for married women. The lack of support from government legislations could bring problems to its implementation. This is the reason why China still ranks low in terms of women representation at the workplace. Compared to other developed countries, the number of married women in China' workforce is only forty eight percent. Although this is a slight improvement from what it was in the late 90s, the percentage is still low for a developed country. Employers need to realise that there is still some lack of support for women's incentives in employment. They will therefore have difficulties when trying to provide women with incentives for their families since support systems like child care facilities are still lacking in China.
Sexual preference
Managers trying to implement equal opportunities in China may be faced with the problem of dealing with sexual preference issues. The Chinese society is quite conservative in this regard. It is only recently that the Chinese government changed their laws, just a few years ago, the country used to consider homosexuality a crime. This does not mean that there is open discrimination in the workplace against gay men and women. However, most indigenous members of society still have some form of bias against them. Consequently, managers trying to implement equal opportunities may not receive full cooperation from members of staff because some of them may still have those inhibitions.
Ethnic groups/religious groupings
Chinese is one of the most populous countries in Asia; it also ethnically diverse. This may be something that an outsider may not easily notice because they may seem quite similar. However after spending considerable time with them, the Chinese adhere to different faiths and all come from different ethnic. Managers trying to implement equal opportunities need to make sure that they adhere to balance those ethnic groups otherwise members of the organisation might not be very happy with their employer's decisions. (Robert Golembiewski, 1995)
Equal opportunities approaches
It should be noted that in nay approach to equal opportunities, managers have to choose between two alternatives. The first alternative is to choose the right person for the job without discriminating ion the basis of age, gender, race, religion or gender. The other alternative is to use the approach of making reasonable efforts in the process of recruiting persons who have been underrepresented in the past.
In such an approach, managers will be trying to accommodate the most suitable person for the job while at the same time trying to create a fair representation of the population representing his workforce. It should be noted that in China, most work place policies mainly focus on the job. Although there may be antidiscrimination policies in place, employers normally look at the idea choosing the best person for the job. Consequently, managers who try to use the second approach of exerting considerable efforts in the process of recruiting underrepresented groups may not receive a lot of support form the general public.
Consequently, it would be advisable for managers to adopt the latter strategy rather than the former. In other countries that have adopted antidiscrimination laws for long, certain complaints have been put forward by individuals. There have been claims in the US and in the UK that sometimes antidiscrimination laws may sometimes favour less qualified but under represented groups in comparison to the more qualified but majority groups. This is a belief that is also held by certain members of the Chinese community. Therefore managers operating in this country will face some obstacles when trying to go out of their way to capture similar representations to respective populations. (Brown, 1995)
Supremacy of law or goodwill
In China, mangers wishing to implement equal opportunities must ensure that they are understand the fcat the law takes precedence in the process of establishing standards for equal opportunities. Other countries may leave this responsibility upon companies and may require them to use their goodwill in order to come up with the right representation during their recruitment process. In China, the former is preferred over the former, consequently, it would be advisable for managers to use the most viable option otherwise they will face some problems when tying to implement equal opportunity strategies. (Kingsley, 1944)
Adhering to the law alone may bring certain problems for managers. First of all, the system is not self reliant in enforcement. It depends upon cases being taken forward by individuals who may have been wronged or who may have been discriminated against. Such legal actions are normally slow and they may also not satisfy those specific individuals who put the case forward. This is also topped up by the fcat that most of these cases brought forward may not necessarily be done in a predictable pattern. Most of the time case laws are complex and always changing. Besides, placing all the equal opportunity efforts in the hands of the law alone will make members within an organisation have more fears about the recruitment of people with less than the required qualification. Also, dependence on case law does nothing in the process of solving conflicts in the workforce. As a matter of fcat, an equal opportunity approach where there is over reliance on the law creates fertile ground for suspicions and conflicts within the workplace. This means that there will be severe obstacles when trying to accommodate diversity. Lastly, reliance on the law creates a situation where persons are labelled and this further reinforces the misconceptions. Overly, managers in China have to deal with all the above mentioned issues during the process of implementing equal opportunities because China is still at a point where they rely on the law heavily.
Tools used in implementing equal opportunities
Managers trying to implement equal opportunities may want to accommodate multiple cultures and different forms of diversity. Consequently, there may be a need to use various tools when preparing their workforce to deal with this. Managers may decide to train their workforce about the issue of diversity in organisational culture. In those training sessions, members of the workforce may be required to undergo shock therapy sessions or they may be required to know much about their country's demography. Managers who use such a method may want to recruit members from different aspects of the world. Such leaders may have problems when dealing with this kind of issue because it may be difficult to cover all the necessary topics in just a training session. This may present very serious obstacles to a manager using training a tool.
Managers are also faced with the challenge of not loosing sight of the individual. When trying to adopt a strategy that is blind to differences, the individual may be forgotten in all these endeavours. Consequently, managers should go out of their way to strike a balance between accommodating various cultures and dealing with the individual too. Striking that balance might not be very easy for most leaders. (Heidi Brinkman, 1997)
Dealing with bureaucracy
The nature of the Chinese people is such that most of them have high respect for bureaucracy. This stems form their cultural prepositions. One of the most influential philosophers in China, Sun Tze asserted those notions. The Chinese may not appreciate someone who undermines hierarchy and thy strongly observe hierarchy in most realm of their lives even in the workplace. However, experts in equal opportunities assert that strong bureaucratic systems are incompatible with diversity. Such system normally emphasise on the issue of specialisation. On top of that, a lot of emphasis is placed on the process and only rigid rules carry the day. This means that most categories are already pre-assigned and very little can be done to change that.
In order to implement equal opportunities, there is a need to look at the policies in an organisation and change them accordingly to suite the available workforce. Consequently, tasks should be reassigned constantly form the bottom to the top of the organisation. There should be adjustments on structures and there is no place for narrowness in such an organisation. All groups should be given chances o develop nag grow rather than just leaving them in specific positions as required by the strict hierarchical systems. Managers in China might have a hard time trying to implement equal opportunities cased on this idea because the Chinese really respect hierarchy. (James Walsh, 1995)
Some of the methods that manners can try tp use in the process of implantation is job rotation. This is the process of changing positions within the firm in order to allow all employees to gain the knowledge and skill necessary to perform a certain task. This may be rather difficult for some members of the Chinese population because most of them are used to splitting their jobs along systemic lines. Job rotations tend to cut down on hierarchy and normally empower front line managers
Emphasis on education during career progress assessments
China, like most other developed countries has the problem of relying on educational qualifications in order to allow individuals to gain access to jobs and to progress in their careers. This is especially because there may be certain individuals whop are talented but may lack education backing. In most developed countries, including China, there is the assumption that individual has entered an organisation when they are fresh from college. These individuals are then expected to deal with complex challenges in a sequential manner. Consequently, those interested in joining an organisation after a certain level of experience may have certain difficulties in the process. This means that in such approaches there may be less cases of lateral joining. This is quite problematic in that it does not allow certain group access o equal opportunities. For example, a person who had to disrupt their education in order to deal with their family problems may not be given a chance. This will normally apply to women who have to give up their ambitions just so that they can take care of their children.
On the other hand, there may be organisations where positions are quite rigid in nature. In such firms, there are certain requirements needed in order to qualify for a position and individuals must compete for them. Those who win are normally the ones with the most suitable experience. This kind of system also has its on inhibitions. This is because it may limit the positions only to those who can get recommendations from their previous employers. What this does is that it comes in the way of allowing certain under represented groups form taking those positions. For example a woman who had to leave her employment in order to raise a child may not be in a position to get those recommendations. (Goodman, 1996)
Therefore managers wishing to offer equal opportunities might have to deal with those preferences for education or experience. It would be advisable to implement a more flexible pattern of employment and career development. However, managers should be ready to meet some for opposition from members of the organisation. It is therefore necessary for managers trying to implement equal opportunities to introduce some form of allowances for those who interrupted their education. There should also be circumstances where job sharing is allowed so that there are no discrete positions in the workplace. There should also be procedures to be able to allow part time positions.
Dealing with internal rather than external diversity
Most organisations in China normally reflect what the rest of society considers to be diverse. All the social structures and prejudices that exist within society are reflected in equal opportunity provisions. But equal opportunity adherents strongly oppose this principle. They assert that equal opportunity policies need to reflect the beliefs and positions of a given organisation rather than those ones held by society. They claim that organisations need to serve a examples to society and should posses the ability to transform society. Managers trying to implement equal opportunities in Chinese organisations are faced with the challenge of reflecting their own beliefs rather than beliefs held by the Chinese society. (Robert Golembiewski, 1995)
Examining available avenues
There arte certain issues that managers will have to consider before they can implement equal opportunities in China. In that society, like any other, there may be some under represented groups like women. Consequently, there is a need for managers to include them in the workforce. However, managers also need to consider the fact that they should fill their organisations with the right and the most qualified people for the job. In order to fulfil both obligations managers are faced with the problem of striking a balance. This can be done by attracting large pools of clients. This is normally possible through the following avenues
Internet job postings
professional bodies multilingual applications using non profit organisations Managers who wish to implement equal opportunities yet at the same time attract the most qualified person for the job need to do tap all the available human resource out there through posting their vacancies on the internet. The internet will be very instrumental because it allows managers to include explanations about the vacancies without incurring extra expenses. The latter case is normally applicable in newspaper advertisements. Additionally, managers need to create links with professional bodies where they can always give them the opportunity to recommend or attract job applicants. The advantage of using professional bodies is that they have a very large pool of job seekers and some of them are quite highly qualified. On top of this, managers also have the opportunity of attracting individuals form other cultures by posting their jobs in different languages. This will go long way in ensuring that they create a diverse workforce that is highly multicultural. (Goodman, 1996)
Conclusion
Almost all countries have diverse members and China is no exception. Consequently, managers trying to implement equal opportunities need to eliminate some institutional biases by considering all the issues that have caused these biases in the past. In China, some of the challenges will occur when dealing with gender, sexual preference and bureaucratic systems. Once these have been addressed adequately, then an organisation will be successful in implementation of equal opportunities.
Reference:
Brown C. (1995): Conflict and Diversity; Cresskill: Hampton Press: 35-50
Goodman, A. (1996): Diversity in Governance: A Status Report, Washington D.C.: American Council on Education.
Heidi Brinkman (1997): Managing Diversity: A Review of Recommendations
for Success; Routledge
Kingsley, D. (1944): Representative Bureaucracy; Ohio: Antioch University Press
James Walsh, (1995): Mastering Diversity: Managing for Success under Anti Discrimination Laws in China; Merritt Publishing
Robert Golembiewski (1995): Managing Diversity in Organizations: University of
Alabama Press
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