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1.   African American women face more barriers impacting their ability, likelihood and duration of breastfeeding than many other races (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).  This is specifically relevant when it comes to the workplace as there are a number of factors influencing a woman’s support to breastfeeding involving the workplace that are not obvious.  In order to contribute compelling research to this topic, Johnson, Kirk and Muzik conducted three qualitative focus groups and reported their findings (2015).  Their goal was to reiterate the need for work-related breastfeeding support and interventions among African American mothers.

            In general, African American women hold jobs with less flexible work hours, shorter maternity leave and less social support to breastfeed (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).  They are also overly represented in low-income, nonmanagerial positions with high stress and insufficient break times, according to Johnson, Kirk, and Muzik (2015).  These factors contribute to the reality of little support for breastfeeding and persistence in the workplace, a wide known issue for all new mothers, and specifically for African American mothers.  The authors concluded women felt interventions should include increased paid maternity leave, peer support groups, genuine support from breastfeeding professionals, and educating society (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).  The women in the focus groups expressed feeling a lack of professional assistance to encourage breastfeeding and next to no support from family or the workplace (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).

Spreading awareness on this issue continues to be solution proposed by many in the birthing community, new mothers and scholarly researchers alike.  Equally important is the competency of clinical professionals on breastfeeding skills, training, and support (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has limited protection and other breastfeeding laws are implemented at the state level which creates much room for progress and advancement in relation to breastfeeding rights of mothers in the workplace (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).  Education and advocacy must include culturally sensitive and community-based peer and professional support that campaigns for a shift in the ideology surrounding breastfeeding and African American mothers (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).

Education fosters awareness and understanding which then in turn fosters support.  This notion can be applied to many of the obstacles faced by African Americans in the workforce, but programs are not going to create themselves.  This does not rely solely on workplace organizations.  Based on the results of the focus groups, support needs to come from the medical community and women’s personal support systems too (Johnson, Kirk, & Muzik, 2015).  Already this quarter we are realizing diversity is multi-faceted and social and environmental factors impact various diversity groups differently.  It is essential we do not make assumptions or group individuals together as we assess complex issues.

by Kelesy Smith 

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2.

 Diversity and discrimination in the workplace is a reality organizations, leadership and employees continue to experience.  Over the past several decades, diversity has increased and discrimination has decreased due to the implementation of federal laws and effective diversity management in the workplace (Canas & Sondak, 2012).  Many organizations have paid a hefty price for violating laws and policies surrounding diversity protection (Canas & Sondak, 2012).  It is pivotal for those in leadership positions to navigate diversity from both a managerial and legal perspective.

            Managers need to be aware of and reflect on their own stance and self-identification with regard to diversity and how it impacts their ability to effectively manage (Coleman, 2012).  Our text also encourages organizations and management to develop a well-articulated and implemented policy based on Title VII legislation in order to adhere to the basic human rights of all employees (Canas & Sondak, 2012).  Encouragement of sporadic trainings and following these policies and procedures to employees is also highly encouraged (Canas & Sondak, 2012).  Policies have expanded overtime to accommodate the fluidity and progression of both diversity, how its defined and its existence in the workplace (Coleman, 2012).

            Diversity education and management must consider the legal implications within the larger framework of managing diversity or risk violating any number of policies that are currently in place.  There are too many other inter-linking components that can influence ineffective diversity management and also ineffective adherence to policies by employees (Coleman, 2012).  Diversity education and management should emphasize heavy introspection on the part of management and employees, constant conversation surrounding diversity and its complexities, and a review of historical cases to learn from previous organizational mistakes. By Kelsy smith

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