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Theories Relate to Company Culture and Climate: Analytical Essay

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Abstract:

In this essay, I will explore the “Me Too” movement and how it relates to Global Human Resources. Furthermore, I will delve into the consequences of this movement on multinational companies. I will bring in theoretical discussions from class, such as the importance of company climate and culture, and how these relate to the movement and HR as a whole.

Introduction:

My main sources are primary and secondary. They focus on stories from survivors of sexual harassment and abuse themselves, and human resource professionals. The main questions I hope to answer throughout this essay are:

  • Has the “Me Too” movement changed global human resources?
  • Does corporate culture play a role in the cycle of sexual harassment and assault?
  • How does company climate relate to this movement?
  • What steps can Human Resource departments take in changing the image of their respective companies?

From my conductive research, I can confidently express my thesis as such:

The “Me Too” movement has affected global Human Resource departments in tremendous ways. In their responsibility for managing employee relations and staffing, it is up to these professionals to ensure a safe workplace environment, especially for those who come forward with complaints of sexual harassment and assault. Company culture plays a significant role in the cycle of sexual abuse in the workplace. Furthermore, company climate is an important tool for Human Resource professionals to use to analyze how satisfied and safe their employees feel in their workplace environment.

Literature Review:

For this project, I’d like to explore the theories relate to company culture and climate and how they relate to global Human Resource departments. I’d like to research how these theories develop into practice. In essence, the “Me Too” movement centers around how theories have failed in practice. For decades, the cycle of sexual abuse persisted in the workplace. Many victims who reported their stories felt as though Human Resource professionals knew the severity of the issues but chose to turn a blind eye. Multinational companies failed to make their employees feel empowered, let alone safe. Before this movement, the victims that did come forward were met with backlash and retaliation. I’d like to delve into not only how these crimes happened, but how they happened for so long. Where did Human Resource departments around the globe go wrong? How can they do better?

Methodology:

For my approach to this research project, I have thoroughly researched primary and secondary sources related to the “Me Too” movement. I am a passionate intersectional feminist, so I have been following this movement from the beginning. I have been reading through the stories as they come out, but I have never devoted serious time to research. Now, however, I have read sources from sexual harassment and assault survivors that have come forward in the past few years about their experiences in the workplace. I have read sources from the founders of the “Me Too” movement such as Tarana Burke and Alyssa Milano. I have read sources from Human Resource professionals themselves and their strategies in overcoming this prevailing, ubiquitous issue. I have also used our textbook, the main source from our class, to help provide some background on how our theoretical discussions related to this topic.

Main Findings:

In a discussion about the “Me Too” movement, Gabrielle Union said, “This is the oldest crime since the dawn of time, and we’re just now lifting the veil of secrecy. I don’t know how many different people need to tell their stories before we realize these aren’t isolated incidents; there’s a culture that supports this. If we are not actively trying to dismantle these systems, we are complicit,” (“How #MeToo Is Actually Changing Hollywood”). Gabrielle Union, an American actress, is just one of hundreds of women in the United States who came forward about sexual assault and harassment in the past few years. The “Me Too” movement symbolizes a transition into gender equality for sexual assault survivors, especially in the workplace. An American social activist, Tarana Burke, began using the phrase “Me Too” as early as 2006. However, the movement did not spread virally until 2017 when American actress Alyssa Milano used the hashtag #MeToo in a tweet urging other sexual assault survivors to share their stories. Although the foundations of this movement include American women, they are not alone in their stories. The hashtag is now being used, in different types of slang, in at least 85 countries, such as India, Australia, Norway, and Japan (The #MeToo Shockwave). Since most stories on this issue center around the workplace, Human Resource Management is directly affected. The rise of multinational companies in the age of globalization combined with this global movement puts explicit emphasis on how Human Resource departments handle these issues. As discussed in class, cultural implications play a significant role in a multinational company’s success and reputation. The “Me Too” movement has affected company culture and climate due to the new exceptions of what will and won’t be tolerated. Similarly, as Gabrielle Union said, culture plays a role in keeping sexual assault survivors silent. The job of Human Resource departments globally is to reverse this type of culture to ensure that sexual harassment and assault will be taken seriously in their respective companies.

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As defined in our book, company climate refers to the overall present satisfaction of the workforce in an organization (Vance & Yongsun, page 25). Company climate can change rapidly depending on the feelings of employees towards management. Key contributors to company climate are workforce empowerment, effective communications and feedback, merit-based pay and promotion, and job meaningfulness and enrichment (Vance & Yongsun, page 25). Company climate can turn unfavorable drastically if these contributors are not valued. In terms of merit-based pay, women still earn on average only 82% of what men earn (“The #MeToo Movement Goes Global”). In terms of workforce empowerment, many victims of sexual harassment in the workforce feel undervalued because their reports go unnoticed: “Many survivors realistically judged reporting to be pointless or worse, producing retaliation. Complaints were routinely passed off with some version of ‘She isn’t credible,’ or ‘She wanted it,’ or ‘It was trivial,” (“Where #MeToo Came From, and Where It’s Going”). The Me Too movement has brought all of these offenses to light, bringing down nearly 201 men in different industries worldwide (“#MeToo Brought Down 201 Powerful Men. Nearly Half of Their Replacements Are Women”). Globally, Human Resource departments are making serious changes in the way they handle sexual assault and harassment reporting. These changes are crucial to a company’s reputation in this new age, and failure to change could result in brand disloyalty and lost profits. More importantly, Human Resource departments must make necessary changes to ensure favorable company climate. Without favorable company climate, businesses could see higher employee turnover rates. In the new age of intolerance for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, victims whose reports go unnoticed know their worth and potential. If their reports go unnoticed at their current jobs, survivors of sexual harassment and assault could easily find another job where their reports would be taken seriously. As discussed before, workforce empowerment is key to a favorable company climate. For a survivor of sexual harassment and assault, nothing screams empowerment more than their reports being valued and their perpetrators being fired. These changes are fairly easy for a Human Resource department to make: it simply involves valuing and believing in women in their respective workplaces.

As defined in our book, company culture refers to the overall prevailing set of assumptions, attitudes, beliefs, norms, priorities, and values within an organization (Vance & Yongsun, page 24). Unlike company climate, company culture is very difficult to change. It is unconscious in nature and can be communicated explicitly or implicitly. Most times, companies will communicate their culture in handbooks. However, company culture can also be communicated informally through grapevine (Vance & Yongsun, page 24). There can be a high degree of discrepancy between explicit and implicit company culture in terms of what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable. For example, a company can explicitly communicate in their handbook that sexual harassment and assault is unacceptable, but implicitly, they could ignore reports of it. It is the job of the Human Resource department to ensure the words of company culture are congruent with their actions. As discussed by a journalist on this topic, “The recent flood of high profile sexual assault and harassment allegations sweeping the globe highlights the need for a fundamental change in corporate culture, as well as the importance of training all employees on sexual harassment to ensure they do not inadvertently contribute to a corporate mindset that tolerates and supports sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace,” (“Does Your Corporate Culture Inadvertently Support Discrimination and Harassment?”). Human Resource professionals must attend training on how to handle these issues. Not only handling them once they occur in a report, but these professionals must take active steps in preventing sexual harassment as well. Proactivity is better than reactivity. Although company culture is defined explicitly by the corporate board such as the CEO and CFO, it is up to the Human Resource department to enforce that the standards of corporate culture are upheld given their responsibilities of regulating employee relations and staffing. There is a lot of distrust in about the internal processes of Human Resource departments in regards to reports and complaints. Human Resource departments have a lot of work to do globally to recover from the issues presented in this movement, “When a movement like this comes along, it is crucial to understand the exact steps to take to report what has happened and to follow protocol: ensure that the employee is not just heard–but listened to–assured that they are safe from retaliation, and have thorough documentation of the incident,” (“How Can HR Help the #MeToo Movement?”). For Human Resource professionals, ensuring a safe workplace guarantees advantages in a plethora of dimensions: heightened employee morale, higher efficiency, and better productivity.

As discussed in class, there is variation between practice and consequences. This variation in accordance to the “Me Too” movement was immense. As discussed in the introduction, this movement has spread to over 85 countries. The number of survivors who participated in this movement, whether it was sharing their own stories or using a hashtag, is said to be in the millions. Unfortunately, the reason this movement had so much success virally is due to how profound and widespread sexual abuse is inside the workplace. Survivors who shared their stories felt these tragedies on such a deep, personal level. In terms of the global spread, I’d like to focus on the movement in Japan, Australia, and India.

Given the conservative society of Japan, victims of sexual abuse find it more difficult to share their experiences. Japan has a very tight culture–people are expected to follow social norms strictly. There is a certain taboo to even use the word “rape”, so backlash is inevitable and extensive. When Shiori Ito came forward accusing a famous correspondent of rape, she did the unthinkable. She received hate mail and death threats, the resentment was profound. Despite the deep resentment, Ito made national news in Japan, broke taboos, and shocked the public of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse in the workplace: “Ito believed she had no other choice. She said #MeToo has provided an opening in the Japanese media to discuss sexual harassment and assault,” (The #MeToo Shockwave). Japanese Human Resource departments and Japanese media alike learned from the boldness of Shiori Ito’s actions–and other countries followed suit.

Similar to Japan, India has a very conservative, tight culture. India, besides the Congo, is one of the most dangerous places to be a woman. The spread of “Me Too” in India shows the true power of this movement. Dozens of men in very powerful sectors of business, such as Bollywood and the music industry, have been accused. This movement is shaking power structures in the most unlikely places. In response to Human Resource department’s management of sexual abuse reports, one survivor said, “We don’t trust our employers to give us a fair hearing. Due process is broken,” (“Government Official Resigns As #MeToo Movement Gathers Force In India”). This is an abhorrent review of HR departments and they must do better to make their employees feel valued, empowered, and safe. When this movement was developed in 2006 by Tarana Burke, the core of “Me Too” is to primarily help disadvantaged, impoverished, and discriminated survivors of sexual abuse. Human Resource professionals must do better in countries where women are in danger the most such as India. Survivors there deserve just as much respect and empowerment as survivors in the United States. In Australia, the “Me Too” movement has been slowed down due to defamation lawsuits. Despite this, these cases have been highly profiled with journalists and media organizations to verify the information. A common trend that Australians have pointed out in this entire movement is the use of social media as a platform for women to share their stories: “But they highlight a common theme emerging around the world–the way in which women are now using social media to network and share information and sexual harassment, usually under the radar, before coming forward as a united front against repeated offenders,” (The #MeToo Shockwave). This is what happened when journalist Tracey Spicer called out to Australian women who had experiences sexual abuse in the media. With the help of numerous women, they took down Australian television personality Don Burke and actor Craig McLachlan. Despite nationalities, whether these women are Japanese, American, Australian, or Indian, they all came together for a common goal: finding justice where there previously was none. I included the picture below in my proposal presentation, but I’d like to include it again because I think it shows the beauty of women coming together despite their differences.

Conclusion:

In the wake of the “Me Too” movement, Human Resource professionals have had to work overtime to transform processes, policies, and corporate reputations. Company climate, as described, relates to the overall satisfaction of the workforce. For a vast majority of companies, company climate is extremely poor in the aftermath of this movement. A lot of the blame has respectively been put on weak HR functions that helped enhance the cycle of sexual abuse in the workplace, creating a breeding ground for harassment and other toxic behaviors. Human Resource departments across the globe failed to adequately handle reports of sexual abuse, administer proper paperwork related to complaints, or take further action against perpetrators. In their failures, HR departments are enforcing a corporate culture that is not congruent to their handbooks. In ways to improve, HR professionals, as well as every employee in their respective companies, must endure extensive training on sexual abuse. They must be given the resources to administer proper paperwork in relation to reports of sexual assault. They must value their company climate to the utmost by administering monthly surveys of how safe their employees feel in their workplace. The company’s CEO and upper-level management are ultimately the deciders of what behavior is acceptable or not, however, HR can still make these necessary changes. In the rise of globalization, people are connected more than ever: “Globalization, connectivity, and the women’s rights movement have created the perfect storm,”(The #MeToo Shockwave). This movement has shown that these egregious crimes of sexual abuse, especially in the workplace, will not be kept silent. Silence is complicit. From the beginning of this course of Global Workforce Management, I instantly saw connections between the “Me Too” movement and the topics we discussed in class. I never understood the importance a Human Resource department serves to not only the company altogether, but to every individual employee. In reflection, I think this research project helped me see the importance of HR in a new light.

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Theories Relate to Company Culture and Climate: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/theories-relate-to-company-culture-and-climate-analytical-essay/
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Theories Relate to Company Culture and Climate: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/theories-relate-to-company-culture-and-climate-analytical-essay/> [Accessed 2 Feb. 2023].
Theories Relate to Company Culture and Climate: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/theories-relate-to-company-culture-and-climate-analytical-essay/
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