Equal Employment Practices in a Pluralistic World

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MBA Program Ethics class journal entry

Reading Assignments: (1) (EEOC Reading ) United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices,” https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/index.cfm. (2) Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination?” (This working paper was subsequently published in The American Economic Review 94(4): 991-1013 in 2004). https://www.nber.org/papers/w9873.pdf. (3) Minicase:

Equal Employment Practices in a Pluralistic World You are working in the marketing division of a Japanese company in Tokyo. You are not necessarily Japanese; you are yourself (i.e., from U.S. or Germany or Mexico or China, or whatever nationality you really are). You are asked to hire a new sales representative. Your two top applicants are Hidako, a woman who has graduated with an MBA at the top twentieth of her class from a world-renowned business school, and Ito, a man who graduated in the top third of his class at a less highly regarded business school. When you interview these two candidates, you believe Hidako has the better natural selling skills, although Ito seems qualified, if less talented. You tell a Japanese colleague over lunch that you plan to offer the job to Hidako, since both her academic credentials and her talent seem to place her in the lead. Your colleague says, “Maybe so, but in Japan, customers in our industry don’t like dealing with women in sales positions. I’m afraid you could lose customers if you hire Hidako.” You are concerned with maximizing sales, with equal employment opportunity for women, and with not overstepping in imposing your own culture’s values on business in another country. (4) Minicase: Protecting Against Birth Defects In any number of manufacturing plants around the world, workers are exposed to chemicals that can have potentially harmful effects on their future offspring. In some instances, exposure to chemicals damages sperm or egg cells; in other instances, it can damage a fetus, particularly when a mother is exposed to the chemicals during early stages of her pregnancy. Manufacturing companies that work with dangerous chemicals are, needless to say, concerned about birth defects that result from workers’ exposure to those chemicals. Executives are ethically concerned about avoiding the birth defects, and are also legally concerned about potential liability. Over the years, some companies in the U.S. and abroad have developed policies that prohibit women from working in plants where there is risk of birth defects to offspring, unless they provide medical documentation that they are infertile. A New York Times article called “Industry and Women Clash Over Hazards in the Workplace” discussed women who voluntarily had themselves sterilized to keep lucrative jobs working with dangerous chemicals. Women’s groups have challenged the aforementioned policies as unethical and illegal gender discrimination. Journal Questions: -What are the implications of the Bertrand and Mullainathan study? How can business, government, and society address the issues raised in the study? -Related to the Japanese hiring mini-case: Is non-discrimination on the basis of classifications such as those protected in the EEOC reading a fundamental universal right, regardless of the country/location/culture/religious context of a business or its home country? Or is such non-discrimination variable as a right, depending on culture, etc.? What if customers in a particular country or culture have a discriminatory preference—for example, if customers in a particular industry or culture statistically have a greater preference for interaction with someone of a specific gender, race, nationality, etc.? Should companies be permitted to consider such a customer preference in their hiring and employment practices? Why or why not? -Related to the Birth Defects mini-case: Are policies that prohibit women without proof of infertility from working with chemicals associated with birth defects the right thing to do? Or the wrong thing to do?

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