Business Politics

Keep It PC

Political correctness is referred to as a term used to describe language, policies, behavior or ideas that are said to curtail offenses to particular social identity groups that are defined in terms of race, culture, sex, religion, and others. In order to achieve a politically correct culture, there has to be awareness and a continual monitoring and eradication of offensive, discriminating, or reproachful words and phrases, replacing them with innocuous language even if it means sacrificing a degree of intelligibility and logic.

Today, political correctness has become an issue almost everywhere and has been creating a buzz in workplaces. Calling someone names or telling somebody a joke, a comment, or even a compliment that he or she might find offensive can be grounds against you, which can most likely get you sued or terminated. As a consequence, everybody is going to be scared of saying or doing anything for fear of causing offense to his colleague and eventually losing his job. Although political correctness may carry some advantages, it may still tend to obstruct the growth of constructive and positive relationships at work, as everyone will be walking on tiptoes each time they interact with one another. In workplaces that uphold political correctness, people may experience the feeling of being judged and going to work afraid of being blamed everyday. People cannot escape from worrying about how their colleagues see them as representatives of their social identity groups, those being categorized as homosexuals, non-whites, women, the stupid, the homely, the overweight, or the crippled. Political correctness may curtail these people in expressing their ideas and emotions, causing resentments to accumulate and relationships being marred thereby affecting the overall productivity of the company.

Political correctness can be traced back from the time when Karl Marx was speculating what conditions would make a revolution happen. He then realized that such conditions had actually been existing, as workers were experiencing poor working situations, poor nutrition, poor pay, and long hours. It was indeed the best time to revolt but the insurgency did not happen since the people were very loyal, family-oriented, and law-abiding citizens amidst all the hardships experienced. Decades after, Antonio Gramsci, a political theorist and founding member and leader of the Italian Communist Party, closely analyzed such concept. He soon realized that in order to bring change, the existing culture must be broken, and in this light he devised the concept called “cultural hegemony,” which maintains that a single group or class can effectively dominate a diverse culture and that shared convictions provide a basis on which systems of domination can be built on. Cultural Hegemony was then further developed, giving rise to the Frankfurt School, an institution of neo-Marxism, which soon took the title of The Institute for Marxism. However, as to not make it so obvious, they assumed the title of Institute for Social Research. Its aim was to weaken the domination of the Western Culture from within its diverse hubs until the culture was totally destroyed for a hegemony to rule in its wake.

In the 1970s and the 1980s the term “Political Correctness” was first used by believers of Marxism as a satirical self-criticism for its followers to wary about their own orthodoxy in their efforts to be the catalysts for social change. In political correctness, all history is defined by power that certain social identity groups have over other groups. For them, certain groups and social norms should be upheld even more such as the feminists, the blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, etc. These people are designated as “victims” of inequality and enjoy leeway regardless of whatever they do — all this for an ideal that challenges discrimination and disparity.

As a result, certain laws now protect conventionally underrepresented groups from deliberate discrimination including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The American government has eliminated most free speech protection in the workplace. Languages are changed so as not to offend specific groups. Actions in admissions and hiring are directed to the affirmative since a recruiter may be misinterpreted for not hiring an applicant because he is Hispanic, while in fact he was just not technically competent for the job. The scope of classical texts is broadened to incorporate those written by minority authors and women.

Although political correctness has retuned the standards for civility and respect in the daily relations of people, it has also brought some restraints to particular actions that previously were perceived as normal.