Striving for social justice: understanding gender issues at the workplace in India

Jain, Suparna; Bhardwaj, Gopa
July 2016
Health Psychology Report;2016, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p246
Academic Journal
BACKGROUND Patriarchy dominates not only the mind-set and behavioural patterns of both males and females in India in general but also has a far-reaching impact on work culture as well as quality of work life. Indians not only suffer the archaic gender patterns but also are burdened with a unique system of caste that discriminates people based on their birth in a particular section of society. The government has made an effort to eradicate the adverse impacts of the caste system by making a unique reservation policy (a form of affirmative action) in work and education that tries to promote social justice. PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURE The present research study was conducted to assess the perception of public-sector employees of the diversity climate of their organizations (in terms of the diversity created by the affirmative action) and the psychological impact of this perception. Three hundred participants (all employed in public-sector organizations) were categorized into four groups, namely General Category Men, Reserved Category Men, General Category Women and Reserved Category Women. Participants in the reserved category were those who had directly benefitted from the affirmative action. All the participants were given questionnaires to assess perceived diversity climate, work-family conflict and alienation from work. Thirty percent of the participants were interviewed with semi-structured open-ended questions. Quantitative data were analysed using both descriptive and inferential (ANOVA) statistics. RESULTS The study's findings revealed that women in the two categories hold contrasting perceptions of their organisations' diversity climates. While among the four categories General Category Women hold the worst perception, Reserved Category Women hold the best. The former suffer from severe psychological consequences. Qualitative analysis via thematic analysis of individual interviews revealed themes that explain the findings of the study. CONCLUSIONS The findings demonstrate the importance of developing a work culture of inclusion rather than assimilation in the organisations adhering to a caste-based quota system, where differences between the categories and gender are recognised, valued and engaged. Different voices are understood as being legitimate and as opening up new vistas; they are heard and integrated in decision-making and problem-solving processes. They have an active role in shaping culture and fostering creativity and innovation and eventually in adding value to the company's performance, allowing people with multiple backgrounds, mindsets and ways of thinking to work effectively together and to perform to their highest potential in order to achieve organisational objectives based on sound principles. In such an environment different voices are respected and heard, diverse viewpoints, perspectives and approaches are valued, and everyone is encouraged to make a unique and meaningful contribution.


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