In the article, In denial: Corporate America’s blindness to gender discrimination the author, Jonathan A. Segal, makes some good points regarding the continued presence of gender discrimination in the workplace. The article points out that business risks, just like legal risks, come hand-in-hand with gender discrimination. “How can a company expect to survive, let alone thrive, if half of the talent pool is excluded from key positions?”
But the legal implications are certainly serious. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court threw out a gender bias class action suit against Wal-Mart(WMT) in 2011, discrimination class actions continue to be filed. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, we are seeing more carefully worded class action complaints. We are also seeing smaller classes, where settlements may be “only” in the hundreds of millions rather than in the billions of dollars. So, it’s fair to expect more gender bias class action suits against employers. Why aren’t more employers doing more to change their practices?
The authors also points out that he believes that one of the problems with gender discrimination is that people tend to think that it is happening at someone else’s business, not theirs.
“We all know there is unconscious bias. It’s just others who have it. We all know there are Boys’ Clubs. It’s at the company next door. It’s hard for many people to believe that their organization could have a Boys’ Club. That they could be part of a Boys’ Club is inconceivable because it is inconsistent with how they see themselves.”
While it may be inconsistent with how most executives see themselves, it is completely consistent with the fact that the senior management teams of most large companies are still overwhelmingly male.
Unfortunately, discrimination is a problem that can never be fully eliminated until it is acknowledged by everyone. This holds true not just for gender discrimination, but for all types of discrimination. Businesses and their employees should strive for a diversity of people and ideas to be as successful as possible.