Freshman Essay

Question

Expected to precisely answer the questions and to have a very insightful analysis. Before you attempt to answer these questions, you are expected to read the assigned readings and use them as references for your analysis. Please be specific. Support your answers with facts from the case. (Book for class is “Human Resource Management 14th Editions, G Dessler).

1. Does Wal-Mart have a gender equity problem? What is the nature of the problem?
2. What conclusions do you draw from the data? (Be specific) How do the data support your conclusions? Are the data enough to come to conclusions?
3. Does it matter? Should management care about these numbers? Why or why not?
4. What if anything, should Wal-Mart management do to address the issue of gender equity?

Answer

1. Does Wal-Mart have a gender equity problem? What is the nature of the problem?

From my analysis of the available information provided, it is quite evident that Wal-Mart has a gender equity problem. The nature of the problem is deeply-rooted in the human resource department and it stems from issues of promotion, wages and salaries paid out, all the way to the representation of female employees in the firm’s workforce. Although Wal-Mart employs about 815000 women employees, which roughly translates to an estimated 57% of its US workforce, the company has failed tremendously in fully incorporating and valuing the roles and efforts of female workers. However, the severity of this matter is not that high but it should be remedied promptly to avoid the issue from spiraling out of control.

2. What Conclusions do you draw from the data? How do the data support your conclusions? Are the data enough to come to conclusions?

In my view, the data provided, however little, is quite adequate and sufficient to arrive at meaningful conclusions pertaining to the gender equity problem.  Several conclusions can be draw from it. To begin with, it can be noted that women are underrepresented in top management and other senior positions. This is evidenced by the fact that a small number of women hold fewer management positions in the company. The average percentage of women representation in these top positions ranges from 9% to 30%. This representation is quite low for an organization that claims to be anti-discriminatory and that has several policies and regulations that inhibit discrimination at the workplace. In addition to this, this representation clearly conflicts with the goal established by the company some time back that women representation at all levels should constitute close to 50% of the entire workforce to promote gender equality and fair play.

Secondly, there is a substantial disparity in wages and salaries advanced to women employees across all levels from hourly workers to those in management positions. The data presented indicates that there are prominent and persistent wage differences between male and female workers across the board. For instance, female workers earned $5200 less on average in the year 2001 as compare to their male counterparts. Furthermore, female employees who hold salaried positions are paid close to $14500 less than male employees, yet it is crystal clear that both parties possess similar job qualifications that merit equality in terms of remuneration. Such incidences are what triggered the lawsuits that were filed by close to 1.5 million employees, accusing the company of being discriminatory in job assignments and promotions as well as in wages and salaries being given to female workers (Zimmerman & Koppel, 2010).

Thirdly, from the information provided, there is a huge shortage in the number of female employees at the stores. This is strongly backed by the statistics provided in the case study. Despite the fact that during the year 2001 the employment figure increased considerably by up to 50%, there was a corresponding decline of about 3%  in the number of women employed from 67% to 64%. This could have been triggered by quite a number of factors that are yet to be addressed.

In addition to the above observations, it is evident that the organization lacks a coherent and sound framework to act as a basis for guiding the strategies being enforced. This is because some of the strategies and criteria used especially when promotions are being issued are riddled with prejudices and biases when it comes to the employment of women. For instance, promotions to senior management positions entail the requirement for the promoted employee to relocate to an area near the Walmart store from where he/ will be performing his/her managerial duties. This strategy favored men more than women since the latter tend to have many commitments than men, which make them reluctant to take up positions that require them to move house. In essence, this has denied women a chance to seize opportunities and prospects that would greatly improve their lives and those of their families.

3. Does it matter? Should management care about these numbers? Why or why not?

These numbers should be a cause for alarm for the management of Wal-Mart Company.  I base my argument solely on two major reasons. Firstly, these numbers paint a negative picture of Wal-Mart as a brand. This is because of the fact that they show that discrimination is rampant in the firm hence tainting the entire company’s culture that is founded on principles of fairness and equality to all. Consequently, it provides grounds for questioning the integrity of the company. For this reason, it could predicate potential loss in business due to a decrease in the clientele. In turn, this may lead to a subsequent decrease in the revenue and profit margins realized from the company’s sales.

Secondly, the data provide a basis for open criticism from competitors and the public alike which would eventually spell doom for the company. This is so because the data clearly refutes the claims made by the company regarding its commitment to policies that promote gender equality and non-discriminatory practices at the workplace.

4. What, if anything, should Wal-Mart Management do to address the issue of gender equity?

At the outset, the management should adopt a more proactive approach towards equal promotion of opportunities for men and women. A sound strategy should be put in place to ensure equality and fairness for all parties with respect to promotions.

Moreover, in-store managers should be deprived of the role of promoting staff. This responsibility should be addressed by District or even Regional Vice Presidents to minimize any instances of unfairness. I propose this because some of the lawsuits that were filed against the company suggested that these managers made promotion decisions based primarily on subject views, assumptions and biases (Zimmerman & Koppel, 2010).

Finally, the wage disparity issue should be addressed promptly. I believe that all employees working at the same level and capacity should receive equal wages and salaries regardless of gender. In turn, this will lead to increased employee satisfaction, and it will motivate the staff to work together towards the achievement of a common goal. Additionally, appropriate methods of rewarding exemplary employees should be sought and adopted to further promote internal competition (Dessler, 2014). Doing this will increase the quality of goods and services being offered at Walmart with the outcome ultimately being higher return on investment

References

Dessler, G. (2014). Human resource management, 14th edition. New York, NY: Pearson.

Koppel, N. & Zimmerman, A. (2010). Bias suit advances against Wal-Mart. The Wall Street Journal.

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