Workplace discrimination takes many forms; from reduced opportunities for members of certain groups to unequal salaries for workers performing the same jobs. While legislation and social development have turned the tides on the flow of workplace inequality, there are still instances when discrimination occurs within the workforce.
In addition to race-related discrimination cases, complaints are filed annually for age discrimination and sexual harassment – another form of inequality leading to an uneven playing field for women and men impacted by this workplace phenomenon.
The overall toll of discrimination is not only felt by victims; who bear the brunt of discriminatory practices, but by other staffers who suffer from lower productivity working in dysfunctional environments. So what can be done to end discrimination in the workplace?
Employers Hold Keys to Equal Treatment
Individuals may hold smoking guns when discrimination cases arise in the workplace, but employers are ultimately responsible for identifying and rectifying discriminatory practices within their organizations. Fostering a culture of equality is not only a prudent management approach; it is the law, which must be acknowledged by human resources departments and supervisory staff.
Essential equality laws put forth by the civil rights movement of the 1960’s protect citizens’ rights among the general population; but the same features furnish equal protection for workers on the job. Title VII of the watershed document prohibits any employer from discriminating against employees based on an individual’s race, color, sex, or national origin. The law also protects against age-based discrimination and extends anti-discrimination guarantees to workers’ terms of employment, compensation, and other conditions.
Ending workplace discrimination starts with knowing these laws, and establishing strict organizational policies ensuring they are followed to the letter.
Education and Training
It isn’t enough for upper-level human resources managers to master discrimination laws; knowledge must also be passed to department supervisors, and even to line-level employees interacting with one another on a daily basis.
In addition to sensitivity training for managers, clearly articulated policies should be distributed to every employee and reinforced during the hiring process and posted in accessible areas. Zero-tolerance is the only level of compliance, protecting every staffer as well as keeping organizations safe from litigation and enforcement proceedings. And it isn’t enough to lay down the law and walk away. Effectively eradicating workplace discrimination involves continued analysis and keeping managers in-touch with dynamics between employees. Shutting down potential problems before they occur, through counseling and coaching, sends a very strong message to employees, who know their interests are protected.
Show Commitment in Practice
Nothing shows an employer’s commitment to diversity and equal opportunity more than a workforce comprised of individuals of different races, sexes, ages and countries of origin. Hiring a diverse staff not only reinforces corporate tolerance, but it fosters a self-perpetuating culture of acceptance. Employees working with others of varied backgrounds learn to understand one another, despite their differences.
Distinct points of view also lead to innovative business ideas, attracting talented employees from all walks of life. Proactive programs can also be established, rewarding departments for successfully diversifying their staffs. And senior staffers; CFOs and CEOs should visibly support diversification initiatives; illustrating a top-down commitment to following through on anti-discrimination efforts.
While incidents of discrimination trace back to individual employees; it is up to each employer to foster equality in the workplace by establishing comprehensive policies and hiring diverse labor forces.
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org, a people finder site. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.