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How to reduce work discrimination?


What is discrimination in the first place?

The legal definition of discrimination is the distinction, exclusion, and unequal treatment of a person or group compared to others based on certain characteristics.

Discrimination can take the form of unfair treatment, harassment, denial of a reasonable job change, inappropriate questions, and even retaliation for complaining about or participating in an investigation or lawsuit alleging discrimination in the workplace.


How you can stop discrimination in the workplace

Now that you know what discrimination is, let's talk about steps your company can take to prevent it in the workplace.


Develop a written policy defining procedures and rules.

The anti-discrimination policies of companies can vary widely depending on their culture and nature, but it is important to emphasize the right of an employee to work in a professional environment where their skills, abilities, and knowledge are the most important factors for their success. Your company's work policy should include zero tolerance for any form of harassment. Encourage employees to speak up and participate in the investigation, ensuring that they maintain confidentiality (to a reasonable extent) and that people who file complaints are protected at all times. Establishing clear procedures and rules is also a way to communicate acceptable workplace behavior to managers and employees in your country. In the case of inappropriate behavior, it will be easier to point out the policy than to refer to a law that the employee may not have heard of.


Inform all your employees about discrimination.

Some state laws require employers to provide regular anti-discrimination training programs. It is important to ensure that all employees are aware of potential discrimination issues in the workplace, are aware of your policies and procedures, and know how to report a suspicion. It is recommended that separate training be given to supervisors and managers, as they are your first line of defense in preventing discrimination in the workplace. In addition, you should strive to educate employees about the potential consequences of discrimination, including potential legal action. There are many ways to keep everyone informed and keep everyone up to date on the issue, such as personal training, internal communication, or even using visual aids in common areas to promote anti-discrimination practices.


Establish a process to address discrimination issues.

Any employee who believes they have been discriminated against or treated negatively should report it to Human Resources, their line manager, manager, or director, and feel comfortable and safe doing so. In these cases, all companies must be consistent in resolving issues through a fair and reasonable investigation, even if their business is not legally at risk. This will show your company's expectations for equal and fair treatment of all employees. Addressing issues of discrimination in the workplace in a timely manner should be a priority; otherwise, credibility may be lost.


Consider multiple communication channels.

An important part of the grievance redress process is the provision of effective and transparent communication channels. Ideally, provide employees with multiple options for reporting discrimination, which ensures that the manager cannot hide concerns from HR and senior management. Formal communication channels such as the intranet, email, letters, or personal communication are critical for an employee to file a complaint, and some even allow anonymous reporting to initiate an investigation. You may also want to consider more informal communication, such as lunchtime conversations and ongoing collaboration between team members, where you can identify potential discriminatory activities that might otherwise go unnoticed.


Reduce bias in the hiring process.

Unconscious biases are stereotypes that we have inadvertently learned. They have the ability to influence our behavior and the perception of others. This is an issue that many companies may not have in mind, but a huge amount of research shows that the hiring process is biased and unfair. This can hinder diversity, recruiting, promotion, and employee retention. Awareness training is the first step to addressing unconscious bias in the workplace, as it allows employees to recognize that everyone has them and identify their own. It is also recommended to standardize the interview process by asking candidates the same set of specific questions that allow employers to focus on factors that have a direct impact on performance. Providing a mock test can also be a great tool against unconscious bias, as it causes recruiters to criticize the quality of a candidate's work rather than judging them based on appearance, gender, age, personality, or even disability. In addition to awareness training, inclusive training on disability, appearance, gender, age, and personality also helps reduce unconscious biases in the workplace.


Implement a retaliation protection program.

Retaliation is the most common allegation of discrimination in the workplace, and it is the easiest for an employee to bring charges and the hardest for a company to defend. It has become one of the trends in human resources. Usually, an initial charge of discrimination (other than retaliation) does not establish a violation of the law, but a subsequent charge of retaliation leads to the establishment of de facto discrimination. As such, you should provide all your management staff with retaliation prevention training to ensure they fully understand what it entails and how to avoid reactive behavior after an employee is involved in the complaint process. You must also keep careful records of the employment actions you take and the reasons for them. For example, if you are denying someone a promotion, you must have sufficient evidence of the selection process to show that you had good reasons for choosing a different candidate than that employee. If this person claims that your promotion was retaliatory, you will have this data to support you and avoid further problems.

In addition to these important practices, all companies should also have an affirmative action plan, not only because it is mandatory but also because it is a sure way to prevent any form of discrimination in the workplace.


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