A workplace isn’t considered safe for workers when it discriminates against certain groups. According to the federal agency US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination means “to treat a person differently, or less favorably.”
Discrimination towards employees is committed when they’re being denied fair treatment because of their:
- National origin
- Genetic information
Workplace discrimination can either be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination happens when an employee is subjected to unfavorable treatment based on the characteristics mentioned above. Bullying falls into this category.
Meanwhile, indirect discrimination occurs when you implement policies that may place certain employees at a disadvantage. A typical example of indirect discrimination is when you require Sunday work since this may prevent some of your employees from fulfilling their religious obligations.
Even as industries advocate for safer working environments, dealing with employees is a different story. Thus, business owners have to be proactive in setting stringent measures to foster a discrimination-free workplace. Here are five core measures to take note of:
Implement specific and robust anti-workplace discrimination policies
Employers cannot establish a discrimination-free workplace without noting what specific behaviors are considered discriminatory. Thus, as the first step in setting anti-discriminatory policies, it is important to recognize the wide range of acts that are potentially discriminatory and determine their corresponding penalties based on the graveness of those acts.
Handbooks are essential to this measure. They inform employees on the company rules about discriminatory behavior, the procedure of how those behaviors are reported, and the appropriate action for violations. Such handbooks should also contain an acknowledgment receipt that the employees must sign to signify their acceptance of the company’s zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.
Hold sensitivity trainings for both managers and employees
Sensitivity trainings educate employees on how to be critical of their behavior towards others based on protected characteristics. Under the federal law, protected characteristics like race, gender, and so on cannot be the basis of employment decisions.
These types of trainings should be shared with everyone in the company so everyone understands the company’s policies regarding workplace discrimination. They should also demonstrate real-life work scenarios that are relevant to such policies.
Simultaneously, there should be separate trainings for managers on how to model desired behavior and qualities as they interact with their teams.
Training courses should likewise teach team leaders how to best respond to cases that may be considered discriminatory. With these trainings and forums, business owners lay the foundation on creating and maintaining a discrimination-free workplace. Stress the fact that each employee has a role to play in achieving this goal.
Have open communication with employees
Communication with employees is vital as you try to build trust with them. Thus, business owners should strive for open and consistent communication with employees by allowing their thoughts and opinions to be heard. Through this healthy exchange, areas for concern and improvement in the workplace can be identified and addressed immediately.
Every exchange with employees should be transparent and non-judgmental, regardless if they bring up concerns that fall under discrimination. Whenever possible, give helpful advice to employees on coping with workplace issues. This measure can build a sense of trust as employees feel that the company cares about their concerns.
Establish protocols for employees on reporting discriminatory behavior
Toxic working environments are guilty of condoning discriminatory behavior when they leave complaints unaddressed. This indifference may either be because of the absence of reporting protocols or biased supervisors. As a result, employees may feel intimidated, preventing others from reporting similar cases.
Thus, alongside setting anti-discrimination policies, business owners should establish a fixed protocol for employees on submitting a complaint. This way, it’s easier to decide on a course of action for the parties involved. Both managers and HR heads have to be properly educated on the system. Also, they should remain impartial on any cases of discriminatory behavior.
Intercede immediately when workplace discrimination is apparent
As soon as you notice any indication of discrimination or harassment, it would help if you stepped in immediately to resolve the case. Study the nature and details of the matter, and find adaptable measures that both parties can agree to.
Aside from being quick to respond to discrimination-related cases, business owners should be observant and proactive in preventing workplace discrimination from the get-go. Their promotion of anti-discriminatory policies should remain consistent for their employees. Through this, both employers and employees can work together in combating discrimination.
A Reminder for Employers and Employees
Business owners should pay equal importance to their employees’ best interest as they do for their clients. If and when discrimination arises, companies must hold the offender accountable and take immediate action against workplace discrimination.
And as companies continue to promote a culture of equality and diversity within the workplace, they’ll find that their workers feel happier and become more productive. Simultaneously, employees need to remember that they should cooperate in creating a nurturing work environment for everyone in the company.
Enjoyed reading the blog? Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter to receive marketing news and advice.
- 5 Guidelines for Employers to Prevent Workplace Discrimination - April 12, 2021