Workplace Issues Mediation and Negotiation Essay

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Workplace Conflict and Injustice: Mediation Options



It’s difficult to discuss an employee dispute or issue of recent times without thinking of the #timesup and #metoo movements. While these movements have been most visible in Hollywood, they definitely impact women in every industry and workplace scenario. More and more women are refusing to be silent when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment and related toxic behaviors in the workplace—and they shouldn’t have to be. This paper will examine an instance of employee conflict that occurred not within the entertainment world, but within an adjacent industry—the lifestyle and sports apparel industry, concerning one of the giants in the field—Nike.



The problems at Nike involved inappropriate behavior in the workplace, sexual harassment, and even sexual assault. Women within the company detailed workplace violations such as, “ There were the staff outings that started at restaurants and ended at strip clubs. A supervisor who bragged about the condoms he carried in his backpack. A boss who tried to forcibly kiss a female subordinate, and another who referenced a staff member’s breasts in an email to her. Then there were blunted career paths. Women were made to feel marginalized in meetings and were passed over for promotions” (Creswell, et al., 2018). To make matters worse, in some divisions within Nike, women weren’t represented at all, and when they made complaints to areas like human resources, there were no changes implemented (Creswell, et al., 2018). The female members of staff at Nike engaged in an organized revolt via anonymous survey, inquiring whether each had ever been victimized by sexual harassment or gender discrimination. The results of this anonymous survey ended up creating an overall coup within the executive ranks of earth’s biggest sportswear and apparel firm. In the first week of March 2018, the packet of anonymous surveys ended up on the desk of Mark Parker, Nike’s chief executive. The results were as follows: many of the men who were in positions of power who engaged in this toxic behavior ended up leaving the company or announcing their resignation (Creswell et al., 2018). This group of men included Trevor Edwards, the head of the Nike brand who was largely viewed as the main person to replace Mark Parker once he retired, and Jayme Martin, the right hand man to Trevor Edwards (Creswell et al., 2018). In the case of Nike, it is wonderful that so many of the men who abused their power ended up leaving their jobs; however, upon reflection, one wonders if there could have been another way that the female employees could have reaped a greater benefit in light of all the abuse that they suffered for so long. While the anonymous surveys were beneficial and protected retaliation against women at the company, it would have been better if this packet of surveys had been delivered by an attorney or mediator representing the women.

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The representative needs to be someone outside the company who can engage in a one on one approach with Mark Parker, the head of Nike, and ultimately negotiate on behalf of all these collective women. The ultimate objective for workplace mediation is for all the parties to resolve the issue themselves, without anyone filing a lawsuit, and so that a nuanced decision is reached that ultimately pleases everyone, and that everyone finds to be just (Dickinson, 2016). In the rare case that the mediation does not end in a resolution, the parties should get a more in-depth understanding of the concerns and perspectives of the other side, and the origins of the conflict (Dickinson, 2016). In this case, because workplace abuse occurred repeatedly and was protected in this environment, the issue is a bit more one-sided. The women represented by this mediator need to understand that a toxic work environment has been created and sustained right under his nose, and it is up to him to fix it immediately and make retributions to the women in the most just manner.



The advantages of this one-on-one approach are clear: first of all it is more practical than attempting to have the hundred or more women who were made to suffer abuses at Nike have time to discuss their experiences and perspectives with Parker. The mediator or attorney can act as their representative and succinctly outline all the many ways that women were harassed or otherwise marginalized in this poisonous work environment. While mediation works best when issues are nipped in the bud, mediation allows for a clear exchange of communication to occur so that the female employees of the company can heal. Other benefits of mediation are as follows: “it’s confidential and private and can be done within a relatively short timeframe; participants [in this case via the mediator/attorney] have a voice and a safe forum to vent, clear the air and express their perspectives” (Dickinson, 2018). Rather than just dropping a set of anonymous surveys on the desk of the company president, the women involved might have considered going through a more empowering process where they could have negotiated for new terms at the company that might have made up for pass transgressions and incidences. Many women had their careers blunted by the foul, repressive environment that was allowed to fester in this sick corporate culture. There needs to be some sort of retribution, and mediation can ensure that this is exactly what happens. Another….....

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References

Benton, T. (2015, October 15). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/advantages-disadvantages-mediation-terri-benton

Creswell, J., Draper, K., & Abrams, R. (2018, April 28). At Nike, Revolt Led by Women Leads to Exodus of Male Executives. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/28/business/nike-women.html

Dickinson, L. (2017, February 1). When mediation is the right approach to resolving workplace conflict - Worklogic. Retrieved from http://www.worklogic.com.au/workplace-mediations/mediation-right-approach-resolving-workplace-conflict/

Heathfield, S. M. (2004, July 10). Steps in Mediating Workplace Conflict Resolution. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/workplace-conflict-resolution-1918675

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