Discrimination continues to run rampant throughout organizations in both the United States and worldwide. The Supreme Court case, Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., dealt with 1.5 million current and former female Wal-Mart employees that claim that they had been a victim of gender discrimination. The ensuing pages will discuss the specific issues that the plaintiffs encountered, followed by suggestions from a human resource manager’s stand point in rectifying adverse impact within the Wal-Mart organization.
Gender Discrimination at Wal-Mart
In the case of Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Dukes), the court found that there was a lack of significant proof that Wal-Mart had a general policy of discrimination (Schipani, 2013). The plaintiffs needed commonality to establish uniformed disparity within the Wal-Mart organization, and statistical evidence was deemed unworthy of proving this commonality (Schipani, 2013). The numbers were astounding; seventy-two percent of the hourly workforce of Wal-Mart are women, yet only 10% are store managers, and a mere 4% of female Wal-Mart employees are district managers (Bernardin & Russell, 2013). The numbers seem to reflect a painfully obvious presence of discrimination, and with Wal-Mart’s market power within its industry, it can be frightening to evaluate the impact their practices have on the American employment culture.
Wal-Mart maintains aggressively, a distinct and consistent corporate culture through out its operations. The issue is that local managers and supervisors are given unguided discretion on the hiring, firing, promoting, and disciplining of employees (Hart, 2006). These individual managers bring with them their own beliefs, biases, stereotypes, and assumptions when they are given subjective freedom, and their actions ultimately shape the employment opportunities of the organization (Hart, 2006). The plaintiffs involved in the Dukes case claimed to have endured sexist comments while receiving lower pay and watching their male counterparts advance at a quicker rate. (Bernardin & Russell, 2013). They also claimed that the male dominated departments such as sporting goods, hardware, and garden, generally paid higher wages while offering more opportunities for advancement (Bernardin & Russell, 2013). Statistically, women in hourly positions at Wal-Mart make $1,100.00 less annually than male hourly employees, and the salaried gap is $14, 500 a year (Hart, 2006).
Researchers have proposed a variety of explanations for systematic gender inequality in the workplace. Cultural benefits, the actions of male employees, the actions of the female employees, and the actions of the employer can contribute to intentional or unintentional gender discrimination (Ngo, Foley, Wong, & Loi, 2003). It has also been mentioned that women make less money because their work environment is generally safer than the stereotypical male work environment; childcare, cashiers, and secretary...