Workplace discrimination is alarmingly common – 70% of employees surveyed reported having had experienced discriminatory or abusive behavior at work before. Beyond the ethical responsibilities as an employer to ensure employees feel psychologically safe, actions to prevent workplace discrimination must be taken in order to maintain productivity and engagement, as well as improve talent acquisition and retention. Here are five ways to avoid discrimination in the workplace:
1. Establish a Firm Antidiscrimination Policy
It is essential to communicate in clear detail that your company explicitly prohibits any form of harassment or discrimination. State that any discriminatory behavior based on race, gender, age, religion, or other protected class, will not be tolerated. Provide concise examples of discriminatory behaviors, such as inappropriate jokes, invasive questions, or excluding employees based on being a member of a protected class. Also, outline your company’s process for employees to report incidents of discrimination.
2. Commit to Ongoing Training
From federal regulations to best practices for inclusivity, there is a lot of information to learn to develop and maintain a workplace free of discrimination. Commit to ongoing training for your workplace, especially for those in supervisory positions. Not only will it provide the actionable steps necessary for managers to recognize and effectively handle unacceptable behavior, it sends a clear message that avoiding discrimination is a core value of your organization.
3. Take Action on All Complaints
Stating a commitment to preventing workplace discrimination is not enough if employees don’t feel that your organization truly takes it seriously. Take action on all complaints of harassment or discrimination with an immediate, in-depth investigation. This will demonstrate that you care about ensuring all employees are treated respectfully and will not be retaliated against for having reported.
4. Analyze Your Hiring Practices
Workplace discrimination, even inadvertently, often starts in the hiring process. If your organization lacks diversity in its staff, it could be an indicator that bias, either implicit or unconscious, is occurring during the selection process. Analyze your hiring practices to eliminate any opportunities for bias, such as standardizing the interview process and using objective criteria for decision-making rather than subjective judgment calls.
5. Build Inclusivity Into Company Culture
Avoiding discrimination in the workplace is about more than policies and training – it is an everyday, group effort. Build inclusivity into your company culture to support and encourage your employees (and to make it clear to any intolerant employees that they would not fit in). Be a champion for your employees’ differences – provide any accommodations to make them feel more comfortable, whether that’s time off for religious practices or gender-neutral restrooms, and regularly ask for feedback and let employees know they are always welcome to come to you with any issues or concerns.
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