Discrimination is like poison to most businesses. It makes the workplace inhospitable for workers trying to make a living. It’s an unfair way to treat the people creating your products or services, and also a quick way to earn yourself a costly lawsuit. This is why employers and employees alike should work hard to stop discrimination in the workplace.
But that’s easier said than done. You need to know how to review your business’ discrimination laws and policies, how to monitor for breaches, and who to go to when you have a problem. Discrimination is prohibited in workplaces, and these are issues that can spiral out of control, quickly.
So join us, today, for our list of ten best practices to learn how to prevent discrimination in your office.
The first step in preventing discrimination in the workplace is to respect cultural and racial differences.
Easy, right? Well, it’s a little more complex than that. Respect isn’t a self-directed thing. Staff members, managers, and other members of your workplace must be encouraged to stand up for each other as well. This means transparent communications between managers and staffers. It also calls for frequent addresses during staff meetings.
Ultimately, a lack of respect develops in situations where people are left to govern their own ethics. Your staff members should be encouraged to keep each other in check, and your managers should lead by example.
Communicate More Than You Think You Need
It can be easy as the owner or manager of a business to think of discrimination talks as having a limit. Maybe you think they’re making people uncomfortable. Maybe they’re making you uncomfortable. The truth is, however, that these are conversations you need to have, even more than you already are.
Professional Conduct and Speech
Speaking to each other respectfully is simple, in theory, but there’s a lot to consider in a diverse workplace. Respectful conduct means understanding people’s preferred pronouns and naming conventions, for instance.
And there’s little-to-no room for misunderstandings, either, with these conventions growing in popularity. Addressing women, minority race members, and the LGBTQ community the correct way isn’t an option, in a progressive workplace. It’s required.
Management Setting An Example
When it comes to making a change in your office, one of the best things you can do is to lead by example. As we’ve mentioned, when introducing new policies, upper management cannot be seen going against their own rules. Much like being a parent, if you contradict yourself with your actions, you won’t have a leg to stand on when someone steps out of line.
Make sure to avoid any race-based or culturally insensitive humor. Triggering or isolating a staff member is never a healthy decision, so make sure never to engage when things get racy. If nothing else, you should work against this kind of “humor”.
Promoting Neutral Criteria
For some, it might feel disingenuous to try and reverse-engineer a racially neutral workflow. This can actually be very helpful, however, regardless of whether it’s perceived as being an organic decision or not.
When your criteria are neutral, you squash questions of whether you are discriminating against anybody. This cuts misunderstandings, saves time, and, prevents demographics from entering the conversation.
Reporting your own staff members for harassment or discrimination is awkward, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Report any and all incidents of inappropriate behavior to the EEOC or even your manager, as soon as you encounter them. This is an important part of creating a safe workspace, by establishing consequences for when people step out of line.
Discriminatory, harassing and abusive behavior are not to be tolerated. So be on the lookout, and speak up if you find someone transgressing your policies. You want to create a workplace where people feel safe. You can be directly responsible for that, but you have to be proactive.
Through close monitoring of your compensation and evaluation practices, you can prevent discrimination. Performance evaluations should always be based on actual, measurable job performance. Compensation should be consistent, with comparable job performances receiving comparable rates.
An Official Anti-Harassment Policy
Much like any other workplace policy, you should document your anti-harassment policy. It never pays to go half in on these things, so you’ll want a full-length anti-harassment policy drawn up at an early stage and passed out to all new employees.
Having an official policy document gives your staffers a “rulebook” to follow, and indemnifies you somewhat if they choose to go against it. Look online for inspiration, or consult a workplace lawyer, and aim to be as comprehensive as possible for better results.
But you can’t stop there…
Actually Become Familiar With Your Policies
It’s important to follow up, both with your staff members and general managers, on where they stand with your policies. Are they aware of how to refer to people of specific races? Do they know what actually constitutes sexual harassment?
There’s a misconception among some that we live in some sort of lawyer-crazed terrible future where men and women can’t interact at all. They’ll say, “What even is sexual harassment? This is just the way I’ve always spoken to women.”
To be frank, there are clear and defined ways in which sexual harassment takes place. The same applies to other forms of discrimination, from racial to gender, so everyone involved has to know exactly what your policy is. Test them. Test yourself. This is important information, and preventing discrimination in the workplace is worth the time you’ll put into it.
Of course, practicing at stopping discrimination in-house is only going to get you some of the way. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers official discrimination training. This boosts your anti-discrimination policies. Staffers learn about everything from their rights to their legal rights in the event of discrimination.
Click here to learn more about these legal rights.
Stop Discrimination By Taking The Right Steps
Learning how to stop discrimination in your workplace isn’t difficult, per se. There’s no complex math involved, no deep philosophical questions, and certainly no need to police your staff members. What there is is just a fair way to treat people, and the need to break a few bad habits. Hopefully, today’s list gives you the tools you need to learn how to prevent discrimination in the workplace.