March 9, 2009

Sample Research Proposal on How Does Employment Equity Apply to Women in Management?

From the initial review of existing literatures, it was found out that workplace discrimination in Greece prevails albeit the scantiness of materials regarding women in management. Glass ceiling practices in the country are driven by diverse reasons. There are various companies in the country that embraces the concept of employment equity. Take for example, Colgate-Palmolive Hellas. Colgate-Palmolive Hellas SAIC won as the Best Workplace in Europe in 2006 (ALBA Graduate Business School, 2006). Colgate-Palmolive Hellas is just one of the few companies which recognize the role of women. But, the question would be: How seriously does the Colgate-Palmolive Hellas comply with the concept employment equity? Why?     


1.0  Background


Many factors contribute to workplace discrimination. Such factors differ based on culture and types of industry and sector among others. Several advocates demanded government in local, national and international levels to acknowledge the problem and propose immediate action plans to which one is employment equity and affirmative action measures. Different laws pointed out that those employers must have employment equity plans that demonstrate objectives, affirmative action measures, timetables, duration, procedures and the responsibilities of the employers (   


Employment equity generally refers to the elimination of barriers towards equality for women in the workplace. Employment equity integrates policy and practices implementation which aims in access to employment opportunities and in terms and conditions of employment including pay. The contributing factors to employment inequity include the position of women in the workforce, the valuing of jobs and the relationship between the construct of paid work and women's job choices and development (   


The core principles of employment equity apply to major categories as minorities, disabled and women. The focus is on integration of human capital with development, productivity and improved service delivery, cost effectiveness, communication and participation, relative disadvantage transparency and reasonable accommodation. In particular, employment equity aimed on increasing the percentage of Black people and women in the management level (  


As Laura Portnoi puts it, employment equity measures purport contextual application; on the basis of history of employment discrimination and on the constitutional provisions intended for equity legislation in each country. Essentially, employment equity regulates public and government-funded employers though many countries extend the coverage to private sector employers (2005).           


Employment equity and affirmative action are used interchangeably. However, several proponents regard the two as a positive measure that could empower people who have discriminated against in the past especially in the workplace. For opponents, consider such to be discrimination in reverse. Portnoi claims that as affirmative action is "a positive, corrective tool intended to assist people who have been discriminated against" and as employment equity is "a desired goal for employers wherein discrimination is minimised" then, the two are distinct but related constructs. Affirmative action serves as a strategy that is geared toward achieving employment equity (p. 352).   


In Greece, women traditionally occupy those jobs in low-level positions though there had been an increase in the number of women employed. According to the survey of the General Secretariat for Equality which was conducted in 2000, women comprised 99.5% of key-punching staff and only 10% are computer engineers and scientists. A more comprehensive survey was conducted by the National Statistical Service of Greece revealed that women constituted 7.7% unclassified works and 57.8% office works (other details are shown in Table 1).


Despite the significant number of women taking up business studies, relatively fewer practitioners end up in acquiring managerial positions; hence, many graduates accept jobs below their qualifications. Majority of those who succeed in getting managerial positions typically enter and stay at the lower to middle ranks. Though there are few that succeed in breaking the glass ceiling and reaching the top of the ladder (Davidson and Burke, 2004).


Inadequacy in details concerning women's role in management in the country is the main concern. Informations only demonstrate that those few who penetrated the higher-level managerial positions are often associated with ownership of the firm. As such, women are hindered by prejudices and traditional attitudes. Examples of these are gender roles, unequal division of domestic responsibilities and formal and informal power structures (Ibid). 


Glass ceiling, as mentioned, refers to different conditions whereby the advancement of the qualified person in the entire hierarchy of the organization is subject to haltering at a particular level due to some forms of discrimination. The rule of thumb is: "the higher up an organizations hierarchy, the fewer the women" (p. 13). The continuum of low workplace participation of women in management jobs reflects that some employers still have difficulties in accepting policies that promotes women in the workplace as a sound business practice. Thus, the philosophy of valuing both male and female employees had increasingly permeated the workplace (ILO, 2004).          


The dilemma is mainly attributed to vertical and horizontal segregation of occupations. These are fueled by different myths and attitudes regarding women's ability to perform at par with their male counterparts and their presumed lack of commitment in paid works. Another factor is sex stereotyping. Women are often regarded as timid and passive; making them vulnerable of the extremities yet to-be experienced in the workplace compared to men who are as often regarded as aggressive, competitive, decisive and forceful (Ibid).


Colgate Greece, as a subsidiary, commits at accomplishing and living the parent company's legacy which is to upheld workplace human rights. This dissertation proposes to investigate how the case study company implements employment equity on terms of women's involvement in management level. The study intends at exploring what internal policies and different affirmative action measures apply in order to eliminate workplace discrimination and what contributes to such conditions. Since there are no specified benchmark practices for employment equity, as the preliminary study suggest, this study will attempt at establishing the best employment equity practices within the case study company which is the Colgate-Palmolive Hellas.


Better known as Colgate Greece, the company is one of the most respected consumer products internationally. Colgate Greece achieved such objective through honing worldwide professionals. Employees undergo personal and professional development within a work environment that is full of challenges. While also, employees participate in dedicated and innovative groups with significant salary and recognition (Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2008).


Currently, the company employed 271 workers. The company is guided by a chairman, managing directors and a governing council. At least 15 female workers occupied a slot in the executive management team. However, the first four highest ranks – President and Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President – are being occupied by male. There is a drive then to investigate the possibility of women occupying the four positions identified, what could probably obstruct such action and what are the necessary requirements in obtaining the position. How and why?  


2.0  Research Objectives


The study will seek to conduct the following:


  • To review the concept of women in management in Greece realistically and theoretically
  • To demonstrate the importance of employment equity in the workforce 
  • To conduct an empirical investigation on Colgate-Palmolive Hellas
  • To conduct a meta-analysis on the existing literature
  • To conduct an in-dept interview of the 15 female executives of Colgate-Palmolive Hellas  
  • To analyze and conclude employment equity practices concerning women in management in the case study company
  • To recommend benchmark practices in implementing employment equity for women in managerial levels


The following are the specific objectives of the study:


  • To establish the practices of Colgate-Palmolive Hellas in lieu with complying to employment equity laws and overcoming glass ceiling
  • To distinguish employment equity policies and affirmative action measures within Colgate-Palmolive Hellas
  • To identify the factors that contribute to the discriminatory (or non-discriminatory) conditions within the case study company
  • To determine the indicators of workplace discrimination in the case study company, if any


3.0  Annotated Bibliography


The annotated bibliographies is consists of a synopsis of a book and a synthesis of one related journal article. Annotated bibliographies demonstrate the start of the literature review. It is mainly consists of two to four related materials.  


According to Gottfried and Reese, Greece, along with Italy and Spain, has the lowest women's overall workforce involvement in the European Union (EU) causing doubling that of men's unemployment rate. Based on gender differences, women's share of higher job positions, gender wage gap, proportion of women with low incomes and male-female gap in unpaid time spent on children and other persons caring, Greece scores the lowest on composite index that measures women's equal employment opportunities of all EU states in 2001 (2004).


In an in-depth survey concluded by Petraki Kottis, among 107 of the top-performing firms, 94% and 96% of them the president and the general director, respectively, was a man. There was no woman positioned as a board of director in 43% and in 36% there was only one woman. At the managerial level, 89% were men and there are no women in 31% that holds managerial positions. In 28% there is a single women staff and in 12% there were only two (1996).  


4.0  Approach


This research attempts at concluding prevailing employment equity practices within the Colgate-Palmolive Hellas especially on aspects of women's inclusion in the managerial level. Acquiring knowledge on the role, functions and responsibilities of women within the case study company is the main purpose of this research. Apart from this, the research also aims at establishing benchmark employment equity practices and at establishing what would deter women in finding a slot in the higher hierarchy positions. The rationale of this study is basically to recommend accepted practices on eliminating barriers, specifically glass ceiling, towards total abolishment of organizational expropriation.  


The study will utilize both primary and secondary research. In primary research, the study will survey all the female employees in the executive management team of the case study company. In-depth interviews will be conducted. Conversational is the main characteristic of this technique. The researcher will use open-ended questions in a semi-structured format in order to seek deeper understanding and interpretation. Through in-depth interviews, there would be the possibility of recording responses by means of own choice of instruments, recording observations as they occur and recording reflections immediately after the interview.


The responses gathered will be subjected to descriptive statistics analysis through percentage and weighted mean. The formulae the researcher is going to use:


1.       Percentage – to determine the magnitude of the responses to the questionnaire.


% = -------- x 100        ;           n – number of responses

            N                                 N – total number of respondents


2.       Weighted Mean

            f1x1 + f2x2  + f3x3 + f4x4  + f5x5

x = ---------------------------------------------  ;


where:             f – weight given to each response

                        x – number of responses

                        xt – total number of responses


Secondary data will be collated using various published and unpublished articles and reading materials. These will be consists of business, management and human resource books, journals, magazines and newspapers, theses and related studies and the Internet. The details collated will be subjected to thorough secondary data analysis. The purpose of analyzing the informations is to extract substantial concepts that will contribute to the breadth and depth of the study. The informations will be synthesize and then integrate to one another.


Case study technique is chosen because it involves an empirical investigation of a specific contemporary phenomenon within the real-life context. Saunders et al (2003) maintain that cases studies are flexible enough to include either or both qualitative and quantitative research. Further, case studies are effective for generalizing. This technique will enable the researcher to draw conclusions on the diverse issues of women in management in Colgate-Palmolive Hellas and on how they can move one level-up to the hierarchy.

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