Capitalism works best when money, meaningful effort, and recognition/opportunities are equally dispersed within a society. Capitalism is what motivates people and steers them in the direction of success. It is what drives individuals to contribute meaningfully in the workplace. However, if employers want employees to contribute meaningfully, they also must show appreciation and recognize the hard work of their employees. As Jeffery Pfeffer states, in the article ‘Human Resources from an Organization Behavior Perspective” that ‘the norm of reciprocity is one of the most fundamental rules governing human behavior, having been found in every human culture studied and even among baboons”. He goes on to explain how reciprocity is the core foundation of the relationship between employers and employees and without it, there can be some serious consequences.
It can be inferred that in the workplace between employers and employees is a two-way street. That being said, things take a 90-degree turn when race, gender, and power come to play. As said earlier, capitalism is successful if and only if many factors such as money, meaningful effort, and recognition are equally given to employees; but when there is a difference in race, gender and power, those factors tend to become unbalanced when dispersed among employees. If money, meaningful effort, and recognition are unequally distributed, then capitalism no longer exists. In the American workforce, we have a vast variety of races, gender and power due to differences in culture, values, beliefs, and hierarchy. Therefore, capitalist society isn’t a very sustainable one because it is impossible for equality to exist, which in turn causes reciprocity do not exist either.
The imbalance of money, meaningful effort and recognition/opportunities is what corrupts capitalism. Individualism is a major component of the American workplace and the foundation of America itself. Individual’s in America strive to be self-reliant and are motivated by their desires. Capitalism is the starting point from where motivation evolves, even if those individuals are not self-reliant. Individuals of all races, gender and power are motivated by some element. Workers need to feel compensated, given opportunities to grow and/or recognized for their work in order to contribute meaningfully. That being said, individuals receive motivation through capitalism can be established as individuals but at the end of the day each individual is different; each individual of different in a color, nature, status, gender, and skills.
Inequality is constantly on the rise. In a capitalist society, people are likely to earn differential amounts of money, contribute differential amounts of work, and receive differential amounts of praise. In the article, “Race, Gender, and Workplace Power, the authors James Elliot and Ryan Smith discover that differences within the workplace are due to “homosocial reproduction”. The article goes into depth explaining the barriers to money, meaningful effort and recognition in which degrees of race, gender and praise have an effect on individuals. It further explains how “homosocial reproduction” affects women and many racial minorities, which can cause barriers for those individuals that fall under those categories to “attain modest degrees of workplace power”. And due to this many individuals’ in the workplace cannot contribute meaningfully to the workplace because they lack such opportunities.
The lack of recognition and opportunities is what demotivates individuals. Capitalism is what serves as the motivating purpose. Therefore, much of the wage gaps, power, and opportunity disparities between men and women can be found deep within the foundation of racial and gender differences. Inequality is what shapes individuals’ lives. Inequality is what shapes people and their differences. In turn, inequality is what shapes an individual’s thoughts and behavior towards one another. If equality existed everybody and everyone would treat everybody and everyone the same. The reciprocity of giving would be as equal as receiving for all individuals.
However, the world is at a constant battle with inequality and has a ladder of inequality continuously growing because the further one-steps onto the ladder, the differences between individuals grows larger. Those differences between individuals cause reciprocity to disseminate rapidly. For example, someone at the lower end of the hierarchy is less likely to reciprocate anything towards someone who is at the high end of the hierarchy. This difference in position causes a barrier for which reciprocity cannot gain entrance. Therefore it can be said that because inequality does exist, these differences between individuals are so vast and enormous that reciprocity cannot exist in a capitalist workforce.
Overall, inequality fails to recognize the needs and importance of others. David Zweig, in his book Invisibles, highlights the importance of helping others. He further explains that, “our culture tells us that it brings us many things we’ve been programmed to desire – attention, money, power”. This in fact, proves that inequality steers individuals away from the reciprocity towards competitiveness and striving for individual desires and, not recognizing the other’s needs. Hence, if we cannot recognize the value of others because of disparities (money, meaningful work and recognition/opportunities), then we cannot show reciprocation because a capitalist workplace isn’t capable of functioning without equality.