Workplace discrimination continues to hog the news both on TV and newspapers every now and then. There is something inherently intriguing about reports on discrimination. Also, this news on workplace discrimination feeds the need to sensationalize and highlight what is negative in the workplace, especially when they involve big companies as well as those from the government. However, employers and employees alike can work together and become partners in reducing discrimination and continue building goodwill for the business (thus providing for its growth and long term profitability).
1) Make an audit of human resource policies and practices that impact on reducing discrimination at the workplace. This also includes current level of compliance of the organization to labor laws and regulations that pertain to all kinds of discrimination, including disability, gender, ethnic background, religious and political affiliation. It is also relevant to check on how the organization is recognizing and respecting all human rights relevant at the workplace for its employees.
2) Come up with a compliance document where all employees, including managers and supervisors, will read and sign to signify their willingness to work with Management in working on reducing all forms of discrimination at the workplace. This compliance document ideally will enumerate the overall set of expectations and prescribed ethical behaviors to everyone at the workplace. This compliance document will have to be updated periodically, especially when there are developments on laws and regulations on discrimination from the government.
3) Management needs to be vigilant and pro-active when it receives reports from any employee on being discriminated or who witnesses an instance of discrimination or even malicious actions from others at the workplace. Management has to be serious in relaying the message that it is a reliable and trustworthy partner when it comes to reducing discrimination in the workplace. For example, when a lady employee complains to her Manager that she feels she has been touched maliciously by another employee, the Manager needs to report this right away to Top Management. Failure to do so will give an impression that the employer tolerates this kind of behavior and supports such kind of environment at the workplace.
4) Depending on the size of the business, it is ideal to have a separate committee with representatives from the owners, Management and the rank and file. This committee will handle internal cases related to discrimination. It will also serve as the recommending body on decisions that will be approved by top Management and implemented by leaders at the workplace.
5) Management needs to exert extra efforts in announcing its policy on promoting non-discrimination on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, political orientation and other areas where hateful and prejudicial behaviors maybe identified. Management needs to see this as part of its total strategic approach in doing and growing its business as it deals with many people. Management may opt to post a statement related to this on the company’s website, on job advertisements plus its marketing and promotional materials.
In practice, it continues to be a huge challenge for businesses to remain free and unaffected from accusations of being discriminatory by certain individuals or groups. This is especially difficult when people become too sensitive, lose their sense of humor and fail to see the many sides to a budding story on discrimination. It even becomes ridiculous at the certain point as the business, through its Management, desires to be ‘politically correct.’ However, it is always the right thing to do to be pro-active and precautious whenever Management treads on issues on discrimination. It is best that Management takes action right away, rather be caught off-handed by outsiders and other stakeholders who may have malicious intentions against the business.