Inthe following essay, there would be analyzed the news recently published by BBCnews on September 14, 2017, telling about Google, the technology giant, that payswomen less than men for comparable work. The article is about the lawsuitagainst Google filed by three women who are demanding to change their paying practicesand compensate each employer fairly.
The lawsuit says that Google discriminatesagainst female staff with lower pay, more limited, promotion, and feweradvancement opportunities compared to men with comparable qualifications. Inthe following news, there is mentioned the article published earlier in the NewYork Times, that reported a spreadsheet with the data, containing informationabout salary and bonuses of Google for the 2017 year. This information is concerningto 1200 Google’s employees in the United States. The New York Times publishedthe snapshot of women and men average salaries. From the data, it could be seenthat women are paid less comparing to men, especially at mid-level. Moreover, alsobonuses for men employees tend to be higher than for women. Google, in its turn,tried to make a justification, saying that the published data has presentedincomplete picture, as it is just 2 % of the company’s global workforce.
Therefore, Google stated that this data could not represent complete andreliable information. However, according to the lawsuit, the Department ofLabour found systematic pay disparities at the company during audit done in2015. Therefore, US Department of Labor currently investigates Google’s paypractices in depth. The major business ethics issueinvolved in the case, discussed above, is gender discrimination. Mainly theissue is about the unequal salaries and bonuses among men and women in Google. Thecase addresses the issue of violation of employee rights, primarily right tofreedom from discrimination. The theory of ethics of justice will be used toanalyze the following case.
A starting point for analysis would be the analysisof theory, however afterward there would be analyzed and evaluated the casewith the reference to business ethics theory- theory of justice. The theory of justice is concernedto how “fairly individuals are treated so that they get what they deserve”(Crane and Matten 2016, pp. 109).
According to this theory, individuals’ rightsshould be treated equally and fairly. There should be used the agreement toregulate the fair distribution of costs and benefits between two parties if theyenter into an economic transaction. Beauchamp and Bowie (1997) defined the theoryof justice and looked at fairness with regards to two ways: fair procedures andfair outcomes. “The first denotation defined fairness in terms of freedom thateveryone has to acquire rewards for their efforts. This is commonly referred toas procedural justice” (Crane and Matten 2016, pp. 109). Consequently, it meansthat the procedures should be fair to every individual, ensuring that everyonegets according to their commitment. According to Ferrellet al.
(2005), “procedural justice is based on the processes and activitiesthat produce the outcome and results”. Accordingly, if in the company there isnot performed and developed evaluation of performance on a continuous base,there would occur problems with procedural justice. If the employee will haveconcerns about the unfair compensation in the company, this employee will have theperception that there are unreliable processes in the company. The second denotation of fairness dealswith it in terms of whether the consequences (either positive or negative) aredistributed in a just manner. “This is commonly referredto as distributive justice”. (Crane and Matten 2016, pp. 109).
According to Ferrell et al. (2005), distributivejustice is grounded on assessment of results of a business relationship. Beauchampand Bowie (1997) denoted that distribute justice involved fair allocation ofrewards such as job and payment among all groups. Accordingly, employees wouldhave concerns about distributive justice in the workplace if some employees arepaid less comparing to other coworkers, who are doing the same work. In addition to Beauchamp and Bowie’s view (1997)of two types of justice, distributive and procedural, Ferrell et al.
(2005) outlinedthe third type- interactional justice. He used it for evaluation of fairness incommunication in appliance with the business relationship. John Rawls in his book “Theory of Justice” addressesto the issue of distributive justice’s role in the society and denotes theprinciple of “Justice as Fairness”. In this principle, the author put theessence that the principles of justice are settled to a preliminary situationthat is fair. The veil of ignorance is the base of this principle which ensuresthat none is privileged or underprivileged by the outcomes or contingency of socialcircumstances. “Veil of ignorance was referred to where individuals envisaged asituation in which they had no knowledge of who they were, the political statein which they were born, or their economic, physical, ethnic and gendercircumstances” (Lovell 2005, pp. 20). In the theory of justice, Rawls proposed two essentialprincipals of distributive justice.
First, is the principle of liberty thatdefines that “each person is to have an equal right to the most extensivescheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of libertiesfor others” (Rawls 1999, pp. 53). This principleincludes “civil and political rights, such as voting rights, freedom of speechand religion, and the right to equal protection under the law” (Follesdal 2015, pp. 314). Consequently, it looks at thefulfillment of general human rights, ensuring that “the basic freedoms arerealized to the same degree for everyone affected by a decision” (Crane andMatten 2016, pp. 111).
The second principle of distributivejustice deals with two circumstances of social and economic inequalities and isbased on assumption that these inequalities are inevitable in a free andcompetitive society. “Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged sothat they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage, and(b) attached to positions and offices open to all” (Rawls 1999, pp. 53). Rawlsrefers to these two assumptions as two completely various principles: the principleof equal opportunity and differenceprinciple. The principle of equal opportunity defined that the arrangement isjustifiable when even the one who profits least is still better off than theywould be without this arrangement. While the second principle, the differenceprinciple defines that social and economic inequalities are justifiable onlywhen they benefit the least advantaged member of society. According to Rawls’ difference principle,inequality can be in place till it is “to the greatest expected benefit ofthe least advantaged”.
Therefore, Rawls has been criticized for being moreegalitarian as he assumes equal rights to everyone. Further, he claims thatsocioeconomic inequalities can be permitted only if the state of fair equalityfor everyone is satisfied. The egalitarian approach tends to have problemsaccording to Crane and Matten (2016). It is ineffective as people vary a lot,while this approach rewards everyone equally. For instance, when an employeeworks hard, this person earns the same amount of salary as the person, whoworks less and thus, it tends to be the unfair distribution of salary. Furthermore,Rawls theory has been criticized for being not dealing sufficiently with builtinjustices and inequalities. Mainly it was supposed that Rawls dealt withexisting imbalances in authority and power insufficiently.
Rawls differenceprinciple was mostly criticized, blaming for allowing wide inequalities inwealth, authority, and power. Moreover, the difference principle was criticizedfor ignoring the clarifications of how people come to be more or lessprivileged groups. Underneath I would discuss the approach todiscrimination from the perspective of the theory of justice and evaluate thecase described in the news with the reference to ethics theory- theory ofjustice. According to Velasquez (1992),discrimination is an irrelevance in employment and he outlined thatdiscrimination is based on diversity of people based on race, gender,nationality, religion and so on. Smith and Johnson(1996) outlined that the degree to which discrimination is supposed to be injusticeis covered by an approach described in the theory of justice. As distributivejustice deals with the fair distribution of benefits among societies,consequently discrimination obviously breaches that principle. Consequently, inthe news concerning to Google’s paying practices, where the company is accused ofpaying salaries and bonuses to male employees more than to female, the issue ofdiscrimination is presented.
Based on this issue, it can be concluded thatGoogle breaks the main principle of the theory of justice in business ethics. MainlyGoogle violates the second principle of the Rawls’ theory of justice, thatstates “social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they areattached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equalityof opportunity”. (Rawls1971, p. 302). Thistheory deals with the equal treatment of individuals, while in the case aboutGoogle says that employees are not treated equally, they are discriminatedbased on gender. Therefore, it means that issue of the gender discrimination inGoogle breaks the principle of equality.
Based on thetheory of justice individuals should not be differentiated based on gender,race, religion or any other criteria. The same should not happen inorganizations. Organizations must not disregard the individuals based ongender, race, religion or any other criteria and thus should not exclude theindividuals from being involved fully in activities of an organization. If the organizationwill break the abovementioned, it will be considered to cover an act ofdiscrimination. Therefore, in the news where there is discussed the lawsuit madeby threewomen demanding to change their paying practices and compensate each employerfairly, it is seen that they have taken lawsuitagainst Google because they want to protect their rights of equality, i.
e.everyone should be treated equally nevertheless of gender or any othercriteria. Nowadays, many organizations haveemployees of different background, gender, religion, race, and nation,therefore handling diversity amongst employees has become very significant. Primarily,gender discrimination has become an up-to-date issue that got importance as mostlynowadays it occurs that female employees receive low salaries comparing tomales for the same type of job.
Gender inequalityin technology industry happens very commonly. Google, being one of the largestand the most powerful technology company in Silicon Valley, has also genderdisparity. According to data presented on their web page, 69 % are male, while31 % are female employees.
However, it is not surprising as mostly technologyindustry is dominated by male employees. Google claims that they have closedthe gender pay gap, however, in the news discussed above, there is publisheddata on employee’s average salaries. And it is seen that women are paid lesscomparing to men. Nevertheless, this published data can be criticized for beingpresented incomplete information as it represents just 2 percentage of theGoogle’s global workforce.
There should be analyzed the rest 98 % of theemployees on what gender do they represent and what paying practices they have. Thus, for now, despite the fact thataccording to lawsuit, the Department of Labour has found pay inequalitiesduring audit, done in 2015, taking one’s side or the another is irrelevant asinformation is not complete. Only after when US Department of Labor will makeinvestigation about Google’s pay practices in depth, and official data withregards to unequal payment practices would be published, then it can bepossible to make any conclusion if gender discrimination actually is presentedin Google. To sum up, the theory of justicedeals with the fair and equal treatment of individuals so that they receivewhat they deserve. However, discrimination disrupts this principle as it occurswhen individuals are treated unequally with regards to gender, race, background,nation or etc.
, while the theory of justice requires that individuals should betreated equally based on similarities. Therefore, arbitrarily discriminationgives some individuals less opportunity for competing for jobs, thus it isunjust. Consequently, in order to avoid discrimination issues, i.e unequaltreatment of individuals at the workplace, companies should be engaged in equalopportunity programs, stating that these companies are equal opportunityemployers. With the help of this programs, companies will be able to ensurethat all employees are dealt equally and fairly.