The workplace environment of the 21st Century is very much different from workplaces decades ago. There was a time when workers were forced to work for more than eight (8) hours a day without additional compensation. In some companies, workers were either not given health care benefits by their companies or subjected to harsh and dangerous work environment.
Women employees were subjected to discrimination as they were given salaries less than that being received by men despite doing substantially the same nature of work and they were given lesser opportunities for promotion and increase in pay (“Fact Sheet No.22, Discrimination against Women: The Convention and the Committee” 1993).
Unions were a taboo and companies exerted every means to monitor the employees and to prevent them from forming unions. Racial discrimination was also prevalent as African Americans were denied employment opportunity simply because of the color of their skin. Sexual harassment was also prevalent as studies show that 80% of surveyed in wide variety of industries had experience sexual harassment. (David J. Bowman, 2003)
In view of years of lobbying for protection by women, employees, unions and the minorities, laws have been finally passed requiring the avoidance of discriminate in workplaces and requiring all employees regardless of their gender, race, sexual preference, or age to be given equal opportunity in the workplace. Corporations have also began to realize that diversity can play important role in the company and that managing a mutually inclusive environment can give the company competitive advantage in the 21st Century.
Companies have started to know and value different socio-cultural perspectives, innate gender differences and experiences that may be considered as different from the perspectives and differences of others. They have understood that socio-cultural as well as commercial needs and requirements mandate that diversity in the workplace be embraced and that every employee be given equal opportunity to contribute his skills to the company.
Managing an inclusive work environment and giving every employee equal opportunity is now being observed not merely because fear of being imposed civil liability but also because companies now value diversity more than any other thing. Gone are the days when employees have to change their gender and hide their own culture just to fit into the organizational structure.