Corporate Governance can be defined as the manner in which power is shared in the corporation. Furthermore, it can be defined as the way in which corporations meet the legal requirements in the process of making money. Public dimensions of corporate governance involve making rules at the organizational level aiming at reforming the organization and streamlining the internal linings.
This aims at achieving self-governance of the corporation. From the above analysis, corporate governance seeks to make public enterprises more responsible and accountable. On the other hand, this would force them to disclose more of their managerial tactics to shareholders and other stakeholders (Andrei, & Vishny, 1997).
Because of the unique environment in terms of ownership and operation of the Canadian public corporations, their corporate governance tends to be different from those of Multinational Corporations. Public corporations must conform to domestic policies and national agendas.
In Canada, corporate governance can be viewed as the system or as a mechanism by which public corporations are run, controlled and directed. The constitution spells out how public enterprises should be run, as well as the existing relationships between various stakeholders and managers.
In this sense, corporate governance would determine the way duties, rights and obligations of public enterprises are allocated and carried out. This paper will therefore look at the position of women in public corporations, as well as what will should be done to increase their participation. It is established that women are treated separately in public enterprises.
The Issue of Gender
Gender as a topic has become very popular over the recent past in many public corporations. The global society has witnessed many changes in social construction of gender. According to World Health Organization, gender is a socially constructed trait, conduct, position, and action that a given society considers suitable for men and women. Hurst (2007) defines gender as a given range of characteristics that distinguishes a male from a female.
Gender refers to those attributes that would make an individual be identified as either male or female. As can be seen from the above definitions, gender is more of a social than a physical attribute. We look at gender from a societal point of view. Wood (2005) defines social construction as an institutionalized characteristic that is largely acceptable in a given society because of the social system.
Social construction, in a narrower term, refers to the general behavioral patterns of a certain society shaped by beliefs and values. A socially constructed characteristic therefore varies from one organization to another. Different societies have different beliefs and cultural practices that help define them. Therefore, a social construction of one society would be different from another society.
There are many issues existing in public corporations in the Canadian society. The main issue pertains to women, who claim that their positions in corporations are undermined by among other things, male patriarchy, culture, societal structure and male dominated policies. It is established that the issue is not going to be solved any soon because the society is reluctant in appreciating the efforts of women, especially in socio-economic and political fronts.
Many policies have been passed in order to boost the morale of women but they suffer from poor implementation strategies. Feminist pressure groups have been created in many organizations to champion for the rights of women, although such movements suffer from shortages including financial constraints and lack of unity (Nenova, 2003).
It is observed that affirmative action must be reached at in order to solve the issue of inequality based on gender in the public sector. Without affirmative action, there would be no sustainable economic development.
In the Canadian public sector, various problems face the government and the entire society concerning appointments. The rights of women can be traced back to 19th century when they fought for the right to universal suffrage. The rights were granted but no effective measure was put in place to follow up on the policies.
Women have found themselves in complex situations in organizations following the recent debate that has rocked the public sector. Following this development, feminist organizations have been formed to suppress the effects of male patriarchy and cultural discrimination.
The movements have gone through various stages to be what they are currently. Feminism is a cluster of movements aiming at defining, instituting and defending egalitarianism, economic impartiality, socio-cultural rights and similar chances for women in public corporations and in society. A theory, referred to as feminist theory, has been formulated to construe the nature of sexual inequality by defining women’s responsibilities and experiences in life.
In Canada, feminism suffers from inadequate unity, which is essential to any movement. Scholars associate feminism to white women because only their concerns are explained within the precincts of inequality. Feminists insist on the rights of women in public corporations, for instance the rights to voting in trade unions and the right to own and inherit property. The issues of integrity, sovereignty and reproductive rights are also matters of concern to women in the public sector.
Gender Disparity in Public Corporations
Scholars underscore the fact that it is imperative to consider time, culture and country when understanding the activities of feminist organizations in the public sector. Some scholars assert that all efforts made by women to achieve their goals and objectives are termed as feminism. Competing schools of thoughts argue that only modern activities should be termed as feminism. The activities of women can be categorized into three waves or classes.
Understanding feminism as a universal concept would be suicidal to policy makers in public corporations. The first wave consisted of women’s suffrage that was championed in the 19th century. It was concerned about voting rights of women in trade unions. The second phase was closely related to women’s liberation movement, which started after 1960. It argued that women had to be guaranteed job securities and had to be protected legally in corporations.
This means that the state had to come up with policies aimed at protecting women from social injustices at work place. It could involve empowering women through education and civil awareness (Ferris, Murali, & Pritchard, 2003). The third wave is more radical because it attempts to evaluate the achievements and failures of the second wave. The third wave category of feminism is a continuous process that keeps on changing in shape and nature.
Gender Disparity Solutions in Public Corporations
Although women have managed to do away with problems affecting them in public corporations, there are still some issues to be dealt with. The first one is related to the labor market, which favors men in many ways. Public corporations should come up with policies that aim at empowering women economically in organizations. Since the Winnipeg strike of 1919, women are still incorporated in the financial system as underdogs.
Wealth lies in the hands of men implying that women are likened to the proletariat who produce goods that they do not consume. In most corporations, men are known to control political and economic affairs, which are more important in an individual’s life. At work places, women are forced to work and produce goods and services just like men.
Women are further required to take care of homes. This is unfair because both partners must share domestic roles in case they both work. Public corporations should therefore look for ways to eliminate this problem because it affects the productivity of women in organizations.
It is factual that the public enterprises have many male CEOs and managing directors (Eliezer, & Shivdasani, 2005). This is because public corporations do not have clear policies that empower women to rise to the positions of influence in companies. In this case, women should be funded by public corporations during union elections in order to realize gender balance. Scholars concede that women should be empowered through management.
In this case, bosses should aim at assisting women employees to realize their goals in corporations. Public corporations should ensure that each department conforms to the provision of the constitution, which states that each person should be allowed to exercise his or her democratic right without interference from anybody. Empowerment of women is inevitable in case millennium development goals are to be realized in the country (Raghuram, & Zingales, 2003).
Poverty cannot be eradicated in case women are left behind in development In the Canadian public sector one way of empowering women would be through granting land rights. This is important because it gives women an opportunity to tackle gender inequalities. Allowing women to own land grants them a bargaining power in a male dominated sector.
Public corporations should strive at empowering women through sharing important information with them and designing policies that give them autonomy. Formulating empowerment programs encourage female employees to increase efficiency and allow them to gain a viable advantage in the chaotic modern-day environment.
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Eliezer, F., & Shivdasani, A. (2005). Are busy boards effective monitors? Journal of Finance, 3(2).
Ferris, S., Murali, J., & Pritchard, C. (2003). Too busy to mind the business? Monitoring by directors with board appointments. Journal of Finance, 63(1), 1087-1111.
Hurst, C. (2007). Social Inequality (6th ed). Boston: Pearson Education.
Nenova, T. (2003). The value of corporate voting rights and control: A cross-country analysis. Journal of Financial Economics, 68(3), 325-351.
Raghuram, R., & Zingales, L. (2003). The great reversals: the politics of financial development in the twentieth century. Journal of Finance Economics, 2(2).
Wood, J. (2005). Gendered Lives (6th ed). Belmont: Thomson Learning.