3 Old Problems in the Workplace That Should Be Solved By Now

Some people are surprised to see how factors like gender, age, sexual preference, and race can still impact a person’s career. One would think these factors would be irrelevant, and that all organizations would only focus on each worker’s skills, abilities, and how much of an asset they are. But, it’s only 2014, and it was not that long ago when workplace inequality was not only present, but abundant.

This film entitled: The Trouble With Women was made in 1959 — only 55 short years ago. It is about a male team leader who expresses his disgruntlement about having female workers on staff. When you watch the film, you can certainly observe a difference between then and now.

Although things may not be as bad today as they were back then, some of the workplace issues that we’d think would have been eradicated from a long time ago are still going on. We’ve created a list of things that should be out of today’s workplace, but are still present.

1. Wage inequality

There are still wage gaps between various demographic groups of workers in the U.S. The gap between genders is the most prevailing. As most people have already heard, on average, a typical woman is only paid 78% of what a man is paid for the same position. (Some studies say the statistic is closer to 84% and some say it’s 77%, but whatever the real number is, the fact remains that there is a large gap.)

In her report for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Catherine Hill, Ph.D evaluated the 78% statistic, finding that in some states, the wage gap between men and women is even wider. Louisiana is the worst state for gender pay equality, where women earn only 66% of what men earn. But, on the other hand in Washington D.C., the gap is much narrower, with women earning 91% of what men earn.

Factors like race and age impact the wage gap between genders. Asian American women have a narrower pay gap — at 90% of white men’s wages — and Hispanic American women have the largest gap, at 54%. “White men are used as a benchmark because they make up the largest demographic group in the labor force,” says the AAUW report. While certain races have smaller pay gaps, so do certain age groups. Women under the age of 35 typically earn 90% of what men earn, but after that, they earn around 75% to 80% of what men earn. Although it’s 2014, a time when we can talk to another person across the world on a smartphone, search for facts and information in seconds on Google, and even fly drones, we still don’t have wage equality.

Data From EEOC Charge Statistics

Data From EEOC Charge Statistics

2. Discrimination

Although it’s becoming more and more uncommon, discrimination is still alive in today’s workplace. During fiscal year (FY) 2013, which runs from October 1st to September 30th, there were 93,727 charges filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was nearly a 6% decrease from FY 2012. The largest number of charges were related to race and retaliation. Nearly 28,000 charges were filed in relation to sex discrimination, and close to 26,000 disability charges were filed.

The EEOC reports:

In fiscal year 2013, the EEOC filed 131 merits lawsuits alleging discrimination. Lawsuits filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were the most numerous (78), followed by lawsuits filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (51). During the fiscal year, the Commission resolved 209 merits lawsuits, resulting in $39 million in monetary benefits to victims of unlawful discrimination.

3. Occupational hazards

Workers of past generations were exposed to all sorts of hazards, ranging from high doses of radiation to dangerous amounts of asbestos. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was established in 1971, and since then, the number of workers killed on the job has reduced by around one-third (from approximately 14,000 in 1970 to 4,340 in 2009).

With all that we have learned over past generations, on-the-job safety procedures and safety technologies have certainly improved, but certain occupations — like roofers and logging workers — still face high risk.

Check out this infographic, which reminds us of just how far the workplace has come in the past 200 years:

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