Learning Objectives Covered
LO 05.01 – Explain the concept of political freedom and discuss five ways that it impacts American personal and professional life today
LO 06.02 – Define and explain the importance of equality of opportunity in American society
LO 06.03 – Compare the concepts of equity and equality and identify five ways each impacts American workplace culture today
Political freedom is one of the most important things in a democratic society. On a personal and professional level, it improves our quality of life and gives us freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom to hold marches and/or meetings. When a group does not feel like they are treated equally, they have the political freedom to exercise their right to express those concerns. In the workplace and in our homes that is essential. Equal opportunity in the workplace must be given with no regard to race, gender, disability, or any other discriminatory practices. This is important and means that everyone is given an equal chance to succeed and be who they want to be. Those in leadership must be particularly careful to treat each worker with the same level of respect and fairness they expect to receive themselves. To make a fair and equal workplace, everyone should follow the Golden Rule of treating others how they would like to be treated themselves.
The online Free Dictionary by Farlex (2018) defines political liberty as “one’s freedom to exercise one’s rights as guaranteed under the laws of the country”. While the Article 9 of the Human Rights Act provides protection for freedom of thought, belief and religion, so people could exercise their political freedom without being decriminalized (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018).
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Freedom is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the freedom of the person in going and coming, equality before the courts, security of private property, freedom of opinion and its expression, and freedom of conscience subject to the rights of others and of the public” (Political Freedom, n.d.). There are many ways that the concept of personal freedom affects Americans in their personal and professional lives today. Here are just a few:
freedom from oppression;
the absence of disabling conditions for an individual;
the absence of life conditions of compulsion, e.g., economic compulsion, in a society;
freedom from “internal” constraints on political action or speech (e.g., social conformity);
sometimes seen as a negative, freedom from governmental regulation.
Political freedom, in general, is promoted as one of the basic foundations on which America is founded, and one of the freedoms enjoyed by Americans which might not be offered in other countries. Americans are provided the opportunity to participate in elections with the freedom to vote for the candidate of their choice without fear of retribution. On the other hand, they are not required to vote in an election, which also represents freedom of choice. In addition, freedom from oppression guarantees personal liberties such as freedom of religious choice, freedom of speech, and freedoms of self-expression. America today places very few constraints on the American public, especially in regard to self-expression and freedom of speech. Political rallies and meetings may be held with no fear of governmental intervention, unless violence becomes an issue, at which point a government entity such as law enforcement may intervene. Freedom from any governmental regulation at all could result in a break in societal interaction; thus, a fine line must be walked by the government to lead and govern without being oppressive.
Equality of opportunity is defined by The Free Dictionary (2016) as, absence of discrimination, as in the workplace, based on race, color, age, gender, national origin, religion, or mental or physical disability. In essence, equality of opportunity is taken to mean that all things are or should be available to the American people, regardless of their personal circumstances. According to John Goodman (2015), what America promises is only opportunity, not actual equality. Mr. Goodman (2015) cites a CBS News Poll indicating only 4% of Americans consider income disparities as the most important problem facing the country. Can this be taken to mean that Americans consider only income as an equalizing factor? Current racial discord would indicate this is not the case, as racial discrimination continues to exist, even though great strides have been made in this country to eliminate this type of discrimination. While America is touted as the Land of Opportunity, do those opportunities assume that every person is on an equal level, i.e., equal societal standing, equal education, equal income? Equal opportunity to succeed should be available to each person with no regard to race, creed, religious affiliation, or mental or physical disability; however, each person must make the most of the opportunity afforded him/her.
While equity and equality in the workplace are sometimes used interchangeably, there is, in fact, a difference in their meaning. In the area of work rewards, for instance, equity would mean team members were awarded proportionally based on their contribution, while equality would involve rewarding each team member equally, no matter their contribution to the project. There are numerous situations in the workplace involving equity and/or equality. Some of these situations include:
Gender equality in the workplace does not mean women and men will be treated the same, but that the opportunities available within the workplace will not depend upon whether the applicant is male or female. Gender equity refers to the fairness of treatment, whether male or female, In the same way, equality in regard to disabled workers would mean they are treated the same as employees with no disability, while treating the disabled workers in an equitable manner would require making changes in order to allow fair treatment; i.e. installation of wheelchair ramps or purchasing specific equipment in order to facilitate job performance. While great strides have been made in the American workplace to overcome any type of bias, efforts should be continued in order to phase out any and all discrimination.
Political freedom. (n.d.). In Merriam-Websters collegiate dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/political%20freedom (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
The Free Dictionary by Farlex. (2018). Political Freedom. Retrieved form https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Freedom+(political) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Equality and Human Rights Commission. (2018). Article 9:Freedom of though, believe and Religion. Retrieved from https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-9-freedom-thought-belief-and-religion (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Equality of opportunity. (2016). The Free Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Equality+of+opportunity (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.