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Workplace Discrimination – More than a myth

Have you ever felt that somehow you are just not being listened to? Or someone is deliberately keeping you on Silent Mode as if you’re a cell-phone and you’d eventually just stop ringing?

Discrimination can come in many forms and sizes. It can be as little as age discrimination or as painful as gender discrimination – Or even worse, Class differentiation. At times we think that it’s merely our delusion and it is not the case. But what if, we are not being delusional and we really are being discriminated?

A phenomenon which hardly anybody has looked into is ‘workplace discrimination’. Surprisingly, many people are even unaware that such a phenomenon exists or it is just a myth and such a thing doesn’t exist in the modern times. But No, that is not the case. Workplace discrimination, as Wikipedia defines it, is when two equally qualified individuals are treated differently whether based on their age, race, caste, disability, religion, class or gender. This, unfortunately, is not applicable to employees in Pakistan only and it affects every individual in the labor force globally.

You may be subjected to follow certain rules and regulations or ‘policies’, while you can see the other person violating it without even flinching. You see people enjoying all sorts of ‘rights’ and ‘unasked for privileges’ while you are stuck following the regulations because one wrong move and… The boss gets you! This is also one sort of discrimination where rules are not the same for everyone and only a few people have to follow them while others exercise freedom.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s there was a phenomena called Glass Ceiling where women were deliberately held back. It was an unspoken and unseen barrier. Sadly, we haven’t quite come out of it. This is also a kind of discrimination where females are not given equally opportunities as men and are not treated seriously despite being completely committed to their work.

A new kind of discrimination is based on Language. People who speak Urdu are looked at as if they have just committed a huge crime. And when you make a mistake while speaking English, people look at you as if to say, “Tsk! Poor lad/lady, can’t even speak proper English” Or “She speaks Urdu! How tacky and old-fashioned” I understand that speaking English in today’s world is a necessity. But isn’t knowing your native language equally important?

Based on my observation, a very (sorry for the choice of words but…) pathetic kind of discrimination is when you make people realize that they aren’t from your ‘circle of people’. Yes, this is where class discrimination comes in. Your work doesn’t speak for you, your income and background does. I understand that this is important that you’re qualified but since when does your ‘income’ or whether you’re from a middle class family or a low income class family, or you don’t live in a posh area like Clifton or Defense, matters more than what you are actually doing? Since when does whether you come in a van or by your own personal car, matters more than how well you are completing the task?

Sadly, these kinds of situations do happen. In such situations, employees completely lose their motivation and zeal to work. They feel suffocated and blame themselves for their class, as if it’s really their fault! And worse, they want to quit their work just because they cannot take it anymore.

Even when you are doing your best, completing all your tasks and follow all the rules, you are told, directly or indirectly, that YOU ARE DIFFERENT AND YOU DO NOT BELONG. Why NOT? Just because I am not as rich as you are? I don’t have an Iphone or I don’t wear Asim Jofa lawn? That’s because? Really?

Employers should understand that everybody, irrespective of their cast, color, creed, race, gender, have self-respect and it is their right to be treated with respect. Everybody is different and diversity needs to be celebrated, not cursed. There should be a mix of people as everybody has their own flavor which they bring to the table. Everybody is important and deserves to be treated equally. I can speak all the English that I want and yet be simply unproductive. I can dress all pretty and be as useless as a piece of furniture in the office. Let the employee’s work speak for them, not the brand which they are wearing or the car which they come to work to. Let their attitude towards other employees be more important than which phone they carry or what accent they speak English in. Most importantly, let how obedient they are to the organization’s policies and rules, be what you judge them on, rather than which class of the society they belong to.

AND!!! If you feel you are being discriminated against, speak up. If you don’t, it’ll soon take over you and you’ll realize that you’ve lost your zeal to work or worse… your self-confidence.

Remember, you’re unique and have potential to do best. Don’t let someone tell you otherwise!

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