“Workplace equality” is a catchall phrase that deals with how people are treated at work. The assumption is that people are treated differently based on the group they belong to, rather than their performance on the job. Advocates of “workplace equality” programs claim that, since discrimination based on nonperformance-related variables such as gender, laws should be in place to protect those groups.
Pros: Mutual Respect
If the main goal of workplace equality is to create and maintain respect and fairness among different groups in the workplace, then there is no debate. Such respect means the smooth functioning of any office or factory, and therefore is in the interest of any firm. It is questionable whether any laws are necessary to enforce what is already in the firm's financial interest. Since disrespect leads to conflict and division in the office, such conflicts, if left untreated, can tear an otherwise profitable company apart from within.
Pros: Family-Friendly Policies
Sociologists such as Michael Kimmel write that in order to make the workplace easier for women, family-friendly policies should be in place. This is meant to support women with young children on the job an equal opportunity at employment by having childcare on site, which would greatly facilitate connections between mothers and children right on the job. In addition, Kimmel recommends liberal family leave laws for both husband and wife. This would not only make family life easier for working couples but also better integrate them into their companies.
Cons: The State
Regardless of who you read on this topic, workplace equality requires more laws and state oversight into nearly all aspects of the firm. Although workplace equality laws were passed in large numbers in the 1960s and 1970s, this apparently is not enough. The legal morass of equality legislation is so massive as to render nearly all pervasive government intrusion into the personal behavior of any citizen legitimate, meaning the government could conceivably intrude in the working lives of citizens as much as it wants all in the name of workplace equality.
Cons: Personal Behavior
The recommendations for workplace equality, over and above all the legislation that has been passed, by feminist writers such as Kimmel and Cynthia Edlund, sound extreme. There is no area of personal behavior that would not be covered by their recommendations. Edlund, for example, complains that the workplace harassment laws are too lenient because the harassment must be “severe and pervasive.” Harassment is harassment, she argues, and even lesser forms of irritation should be cause for legal action. Under such schemes, nearly all communications could be parsed for some harassing subtext that would freeze all office relations. Fear, rather than respect, would be the rule of the workplace, and anyone with a peeve against another employee could accuse them of harassment under these very broad recommendations.