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This paper discusses different aspects of leadership. It starts by giving a brief introduction to strategic leadership. It mentions several leadership theories, characteristics, traits, and skills essential for effective leadership. It goes ahead to examine the changes in the labor market in terms of gender where it starts by giving an illustration of the role of women in the earlier days. It goes ahead to mention the division of labor in the slavery era and also states some of the current trends in the labor market. It goes ahead to highlight some areas that demand improvement with the aim of creating equality. It also discusses some of the common barriers to leadership before touching on the different forms of biases. It differentiates between the primary and secondary generation gender bias before mentioning how other forms of discrimination such as race, age, and disability, and how they affect the society. It discusses several ways of dealing with these inequalities together with some of the limitations that may be encountered in the process. It uses works of other scholars to address leadership disparities before summing up the discussion in the conclusion section.
Keywords: bias, primary generation gender bias, secondary generation gender bias, labor market, and leadership.
Introduction & Explanation of strategic leadership
Discrimination is an issue that has affected the society for a long time. Cases of biases are rampant in different regions of the world with minority groups taking most of the heat. There are various types of prejudices based on race, gender, religion, social class, level of education, and sexuality among others. In this paper, this vice will be discussed in detail with regard to leadership, with emphasis on the phrase “the glass ceiling.” The term implies the invisible barriers that hinder an individual mostly those from a demographic minority or women from advancing within an organization’s hierarchy (Bhatnagar & Mathur, 2015, p. 59). As the term suggests, ceiling prevents upwards progress for women or other disadvantaged groups, while glass implies the lack of clear guidelines to curb the problem despite the massive awareness of its presence and its effects. In most cases, the phrase has been used to represent instances of women failing to occupy senior leadership positions despite their credentials and experience due to their sexuality.
Discussion of leadership
The term leadership has different meanings depending on the context of the debate. In our case, it implies the act of leading an organization or a group of people in an organization. Different theories, skills, and traits are used to expound on this topic. Some of the popular leadership theories include the great man theory, trait theory, participative leadership, behavioral theory, contingency theories, and transformation or transactional leadership among others (Landis, Hill, & Harvey, 2014, p. 98). These theories have different characteristics that help define how a leader will rule and the kind of strategies they are likely to implement. On the other hand, some common leadership traits include self-assurance, social boldness, compulsiveness, conscientiousness, dominance, enthusiasm, and emotional stability among others (Economy, 2014). Typical characteristics of effective leadership include confidence, creativity, and ability to delegate roles, a sense of humor, ability to communicate, honesty, and commitment among others (Campbell, 2017). Leaders have different styles of leadership which include: coercive, pacesetting, democratic, affiliative, coaching, and authoritative.
Examination of changing the labor market by gender
The labor market just like any other sector in the business industry has experienced tremendous changes over time, and more changes are expected to occur in the future. In the earlier days, women were viewed as properties in that, they were owned by parents when young and by husbands when married off. Women were taught how to be wives and mothers and at times viewed as tools of entertainment (Hughes, 2014). They were taught chores such as cooking, fetching water and firewood, and cleaning the house among other roles. On the other hand, men were taught tasks such as hunting, grazing, and ironwork among other chores which were considered significant compared to those conducted by women. With the introduction of education, some societies took boys to school, while girls stayed at home with their mothers. Boys were equipped with different skills and knowledge essential for basic survival. However, this culture has been eradicated in most societies due to civilization where education has been classified as a basic necessity.
During the era of slavery, women were used as sex slaves and were not allowed to undertake some tasks while men worked in mines and firms (Campbell, 1991, p. 145). After this era, different groups of people began fighting for equal rights for both genders. Various campaigns, rallies, and demonstrations among other tactics were used to gunner support for gender equality. Different countries have passed into law different bills that demand equality in workplaces and in leadership positions. However, women involvement in leadership more so in politics is an issue that has not yet received massive support from men. For instance, in the US and many other nations, few women run for electoral positions which are dominated by men. Similar cases happen in the labor market where few organizations employ women (Klasen & Pieters, 2015, p. 472). Most organizations use different ploys that intimidate women such as the implementation of policies that prohibits women from getting pregnant while working or prohibits women from engaging in sexual relationships at work (The Fawcett Society, 2014, p. 16). Research shows that women have higher chances of losing their jobs or getting transfers or demotions if discovered to be in a sexual relationship with a colleague. Additionally, some nations, mostly those dominated by Muslim religion, dictate how a woman should dress, a policy that reduces the chances of women getting employed as different companies have different dressing policies that may not be in line with religion (Koopmans, 2015, p. 204). Some of these policies have made it hard for them to compete fairly with men in the labor market since they face opposition and criticism when they prove to be a threat to male gender.
However, tremendous changes have been experienced in the labor market due to the implementation of different laws protecting women and other minority groups. Countries have advocated for equal payment to employees in similar work groups despite their gender. These laws also support equal employment and promotion opportunities, allowing women to occupy high leadership positions (Ospina & Tzvetkova, 2017). Technological advancement has also helped women in the labor market since most of these machines make work easier and less strenuous, thus improving their competitive nature. Technology has enabled people to work at their homes, giving them the opportunity to spend time with their families. Additionally, advocating for equal education opportunities have opened doors for women to compete with men in the market since they have similar qualifications.
Different organizations have put up measures such as creating day care centers for children, allowing women to resume work after delivery. Increased maternity leave days and pay has also improved the lives of women in the labor market. The presence of influential women leaders motivates women into seeking high leadership positions. Presence of investors and micro-financers who are willing to support and empower women have also changed the labor market. Most governments are advocating for private investments and encouraging citizens to venture into this area (The Fawcett Society, 2013, p. 25). Women can now easily access loans and use it to set up their businesses, unlike in old days where they could not run businesses (Molloy, Johnson, & Lyons, 2018). However, governments should work towards streamlining the process as some financers have been known to exploit women. Additionally, some men are quitting their jobs to take care of children as their wives work in cases where the jobs are demanding or are better-paying jobs.
However, despite these changes, the world has not yet attained the ultimate equality level. In my view, I believe that to create equality in the labor market, and the society should first create a culture that encourages equality. A community should raise children as equals, and teach them that they have similar capabilities despite their gender. The notion of one gender being weaker than the other one is the vast source of the glass ceiling. The same culture should discourage job categorization based on genders. Such a culture will help curb the issue of male or female-dominated jobs (Chimbi, 2016). Instead of using gender to categorize works, other parameters such as skills and competence should be used. Girls should also be advised to join technical institutes and study technical courses such as engineering. Additionally, states should implement laws that advocate for equality in workplaces. These laws should contain equal employment opportunities, equal pay, and improved working conditions for all employees. Laws against sexual harassment should be made more strict, a move that will discourage sexual harassment at workplaces. Nations should also advocate for a 24/7 economy which will not only increase employment opportunities, but also give women a chance to spend time with their families and at the same time concentrate on their jobs. Lastly, complementary skills such as compassionate, teamwork, and communicating skills should be used when evaluating candidates for managerial positions.
Examination of barriers to leadership
As a leader, one is bound to encounter several challenges throughout his/her career despite the age, gender, religion, race, or any other factor. Some common barriers to leadership include unclear goals and poor strategy implementation (Diehl & Dzubinski, 2016, p. 186). It forms the worst barrier since if a leader cannot precisely set goals and strategies, then it might prove difficult for them to achieve them. Negativity and pessimism form other sets of barriers. As a leader, one is supposed to show commitment and be a good role model, he/she is supposed to prove to the rest of the team members that it is possible to achieve set goals (Evje, 2012). A dictatorial type of leadership can also pose a threat since the rest of the team members may become demotivated and fail to accomplish set goals. Such a leader is also likely to interfere with the work of his/her juniors preventing them from doing their best to perform their tasks. Lack of essential leadership skills and traits such as communication, motivation, and team-work may also pose a problem. Arrogance and untrustworthiness may also prove difficult for a leader to accomplish the set objectives. Other barriers may include; lack of focus, unrealistic optimism, lack of commitment, failure to address problems, and failure to recognize the effort and give credit where due among others (Rockwell, 2013).
Discussion of bias
Bias is prejudice or inclination against or for an individual or a group particularly in a way that is considered unfair. In this case, gender bias will take preference over other types of discrimination such as racial, social class, or age. There are two types of gender discrimination; first generation and second generation bias. The first generation is that which denies equality in terms of existence through the use of intentional or visible discriminatory acts against women, while the second generation is that which prevents women from attaining or reaching higher echelons of power (Grover, 2015, p. 02). This type of discrimination seems non-existent or neutral, but it usually oppresses women in social situations. Such kinds of biases include differential pay gaps, reduced number of leaders in top positions, and fewer promotion opportunities. The second generation may take the form of an active approach to strengthen existing male benefiting customs, traditions, beliefs, and values or maintenance of the status quo. In most cases, men are involved in developing organizations’ structure and policies, thus designing them to their advantage. As at 2015, 0nly 24 women, which is 4.8% held CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, a statistic that shows the depth and seriousness of gender biases (Rifkin, 2015).
However, bias goes beyond gender and work at different levels within different contexts. For instance, racial discrimination is a huge problem in the US, with minority groups such as blacks and Mexicans finding it hard to survive in the country (Edelman, Luca, & Svirsky, 2017, p. 04). This form of discrimination is experienced in different public places starting with schools, to hospitals, and to transport facilities among other areas. Age discrimination, on the other hand, poses serious problems and is mostly experienced in organizations and during advertisements. In most cases, many young and the old employees miss out on promotion opportunities due to their ages (Marcus & Fritzsche, 2016, p. 220). Disability is another form of discrimination that is experienced in different parts of the world. Most nations have done very few when it comes to helping those people with disabilities increasing cases of discrimination (Bellemare et al., 2017, p. 25). Most public facilities fail to support the lives of people living with disabilities. Religious discrimination is also experienced in different public areas with the main one being against Muslims who are stereotypes to be terrorists.
Discussion of managing inequalities
Managing these forms of inequalities is not an easy task, it requires passion, commitment, and team-work or cooperation among all citizens. The first solution to this problem is the creation of a culture that respects every individual regardless of their differences. Such a culture should accept that every individual is unique in their ways. When it comes to leadership, the culture should advocate for the use of different parameters to select a leader. Additionally, an organization should consider competence and skills during promotions other than gender, race, or age (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker, & Woehr, 2014, p. 1134). Secondly, the implementation of policies and laws that discourage any form of discrimination can help manage these inequalities. Such policies include enactment of the gender rule when it comes to employment and leadership positions, issuing of tenders and funds to specific minority groups, and imposing hefty fines to those found guilty of any form of discrimination (Carter, 2011). Organizations should also be encouraged to have infrastructures that support individuals with disabilities. However, managing these inequalities may seem complicated as a result of several hindrances such as lack of clear laws guiding this issue, poor society culture, the presence of second generation bias, fear of change, technological advancement and emergence of different forms of discrimination such as cyber-bullying among others (Del Rey et al., 2016, p. 276).
Critical discussion of leading ethically
According to Rose, (2015, p. 45), for one to lead ethically, they must possess most traits and characteristics listed above. There are various factors both internal and external that shapes one’s leadership. Different authors and researchers have discussed some of these factors and how they help develop one's characters and traits. One external factor is sociological factors such as culture and demographic makeup which may determine the type of leadership style a leader will take. Economic and political factors also play a huge role when it comes to shaping a leader, as effective leaders have to familiarize themselves with current trends and regulatory requirements. Epstein, (2018, p. 134), leaders should participate in CSR and create a positive public relation.
Bagheri, (2017, p. 163), technology also helps shape a leader since they are expected to get acquainted with the new technologies and become creative and innovative to beat competition and meet market demands. Other external factors include organizational culture, resources, and environment. Employees’ role and qualifications help shape a leader. Internal/ interpersonal factors such as hormones and genes plays a huge role when it comes to leading ethically (Day et al., 2014, p. 64). Knippenberg & Hogg, (2003, p. 258), gender may also play a role in leading ethically, as women are deemed to be considerate, reasonable, understanding, and excellent in communication while men are considered to be friendly and masculine.
In conclusion, discrimination is a serious problem that should not be taken lightly. Any form of discrimination is harmful to the society at large. All stakeholders starting with the government, community, and investors should implement policies that will enhance equality and transparency. For a nation to be free from any form of biases, it should adopt a culture that respects every person despite their differences and flaws. Gender discrimination should not play a role in appointing people in top leadership positions, as every individual should be given equal chances to prove their worth. In the labor market, factors such as skills and competence other than gender, age, or race should be considered when selecting leaders (Renko et al., 2013, p. 65). Lastly, to deal with gender discrimination, women should learn to support and appreciate each other. They should be a source of inspiration to one another in the fight towards creating a discrimination-free marketplace.
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