Discrimination Deters the Realization of Current Potential Capability

Al Gorman Governance, Managing Leave a Comment

Central to the objectives of stratified systems theory and requisite managerial practices is the notion that the organization will reach its full potential capability by facilitating the opportunities for the individuals employed by the organization in meeting their full potential. The objective of providing each individual the opportunity to realize his or her full potential capability is a remarkable and admirable goal.

During a recent and ongoing discussion the subject of workplace discrimination surfaced in the debate and we should feel compelled to consider how discriminatory forces within work organizations are an impediment to realizing both the full potential capability of the individual and the whole organization. The particular discussion referenced has been evolving in respect of gender discrimination however the subject matter could be related to virtually any minority distinction. In this case women will not realize their full potential capability insofar as there are discriminatory influences either covertly or overtly at work within the organization. Many of these are deeply embedded not only within the work organization but also within society.

In recent years we have seen much fanfare regarding equal opportunity and affirmative action and proponents on either side of the debate would question the merit associated with these initiatives. Certainly it is counterproductive to promote women, or other minorities simply to attempt to fulfill quotas yet many organizations have taken this approach. Each employee requires the comparative complexity of mental processing and skilled knowledge that are prerequisites to assuming work that the employee values.

At the same time however the organization needs to be keenly aware of the existing culture, the prejudicial discrimination that the culture espouses and the essential need for reform. Affirmative action should be taken in response to these conditions not by filling quotas with unqualified candidates but by ensuring that the playing field is leveled and that preferential treatment to those who most closely represent the traditional model is abandoned. The discussion currently taking place that is referred to above has distinguished the significance of the symbolic undertones associated with male gender titles in the organization and the need to dispense of these old references by providing new symbols. Granted symbolic gestures on their own will not suffice to fully alter the culture however absent symbolism people do not understand intention to change. As a result it is significant to dispense of the foreman title and replace it with supervisor or some other gender-neutral reference. These nuances are no less significant than segregating African Americans to the back of the bus, or segregated schools and neighborhoods based on race, or any other discriminatory practice based on any minority distinction.

Managerial leadership is accountable for culture within work organizations much the same, as government is accountable for legislation that provides for equal opportunity among the constituents of society. For those who would draw our attention to the journey and how far we’ve come we need only refer to the simple fact that women and people of color, as well as those who are distinct because of religious or political conviction, sexual preference, race, or any other minority status are still fighting for equal rights within society and at work. Without the catalyst of the activist and affirmative action little will change and without change there are many individuals prevented from the opportunity to realize their full potential capability. As a consequence neither the work organization nor the society itself will succeed at reaching its full potential capability.

About the Author

Al Gorman

Al believes: “Every individual’s life experience deserves to be enriched with the opportunity, at work and within society, to reach all that he or she is capable of!”

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