Sexual discrimination still happens in the workplace even if it has been outlawed many years ago through the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (The U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2002). While a firm may not be expressly vocal about it, certain cultures prevail that snobs sexual diversity. Conley and O’Barr put it that the pension funds and other financial services industries are among those that are generally intolerant to gays or lesbians.
This is the dilemma facing George Campbell, an executive at financial advisory firm Kirkham McDowell Securities. George has to make a decision concerning one of its employees’ decision to bring his partner to a major company social event. Adam Lawson, a 29-year old associate at Kirkham, has been with the firm for two years. During this period, Adam has proven his mettle by bringing in lucrative businesses for the company, a fact that is to be acknowledged in Kirkham’s silver anniversary banquet. Adam is gay and has been living with a lawyer for five years.
He told George that he intends to bring Robert to the banquet. George is fearful of how the firm’s clients would react to the action and how it would impact the business’ reputation and its bottom line. Problem Identification In this situation, George’s main problem lies with how certain groups of people would react to homosexuality. First, senior management may not approve of Adam announcing to the entire assembly that he is gay. Being traditional, these people may think that being gay is unacceptable and this could hurt Adam’s career.
Second, the company’s clients include those that are also conservative and traditional, and Adam’s bringing of his partner to the banquet could cause them to bring their business to another firm. Third, George is worried that Adam’s coming out would negatively impact Kirkham’s reputation in the industry. George’s fears are well founded. He knows the corporate culture as he has been with the company for many years. Even in other industries, openly supporting gay and lesbians could harm customer relationship.
As example, McDonald’s partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has been met with criticisms from traditional sectors (The Traditional Values Coalition, 2008). This is the kind of issue that George wants to avoid. Supporting Facts, Assumptions and Analysis Workplace diversity is becoming the trend in many industries (McInnes, 2000). Even a conservative one such as the banking sector recognizes the benefits and advantages of encouraging and nurturing a diverse workforce. Bank of America has a very good diversity program in place that serves the company well.
This is a fact that George Campbell should face with alacrity. This is an opportunity for the firm to be a catalyst of change in an industry that is discriminating to people because of their sexuality. By allowing Adam to bring Robert to the banquet, it would give Kirkham a reputation of being a fair employee. Treating its employees fairly translates to the company being fair in its other dealings, certainly a plus factor with any client. As Woods has said, choosing the ethical way would prove beneficial to the company in the long run.
While George assumes the worst, he should not discount his own reaction to Adam’s disclosure. He did not find it repulsive to be working with a gay person. Taking this as an example, it is highly probable that their clients and the senior management would also have the open-mindedness to accept the fact and respect Adam’s private issues. Being a responsible manager, George’s consideration of all issues is called for. He is weighing the issue from all angles. But as Adam puts it, the matter won’t be an issue if no one would make it so.
Adam’s talking with George about it implies that he trusts the manager to be a fair and open-minded person. It also implies that Adam knows his worth as an employee and wants to be recognized and valued for his work and not because of his private life. Best Possible Solution The obvious solution to this problem is for George to support Adam’s decision. It would affirm Adam’s trust in him and lift the worry from the associate’s shoulders. It is high time for Kirkham to adapt to the changing dynamics in the workplace.
Losey asserts that the best managers would take this action. Adam is a valuable asset to the company and Kirkham should not let his sexual orientation get in the way. Besides, Adam’s five-year partner is a respectable lawyer who could probably send clients their way. Also, if Adam won’t be allowed to bring Robert, he would feel the discrimination deeply and this could result to his resignation from the company. Since Adam had come to Kirkham at 27, it is likely that he left his previous employer because of sexual discrimination.
If this will be the ending, Adam could move to another company and bring with him his clients. Feasibility of Solution George is definitely taking a risk by openly supporting Adam’s sexuality. There are two probable results to the solution. The first one would make George’s fears come true. The firm’s most conservative clients would frown at the change and bring their business elsewhere. However, other firms could also be shifting their paradigms to embrace diversity, forcing the conservative clients to adapt. The second result would allay George’s fears.
The clients would not mind dealing with a company that chooses to be legally and ethically correct. Should this happen, Kirkham would be bringing change not only to its offices but to other companies as well. Between the two, the second is more likely to happen as managers and companies understand the need to empower the workforce. One way of doing this is to encourage diversity in whatever form. The traditional and conservative clients may not be a hundred percent sold to the idea but it would be willing to tolerate a firm that produces good results.