In our previous article, we discussed what workplace discrimination is. But what can leadership and management do to help prevent workplace discrimination from occurring in companies?
Establishing a plan to help prevent workplace discrimination from happening is vital to a company’s success to help facilitate a positive culture and employee morale.
Developing a clearly-written anti-discrimination policy is essential. This information is part of the employee handbook. Every employee handbook should have a clear policy about discrimination, and upon hire, employees should receive a copy and sign an acknowledgment form. The policy should be broad, covering a range of potential discrimination types, outlining how discrimination complaints are filed, submitted, handled and resolved.
The Discrimination policy should clearly state:
- Discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity or pregnancy) disability, age or genetic information is strictly illegal. There is a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination. Provide examples and definitions of prohibited conduct.
- Provide reasonable accommodations to employees or applicants that require religious or medical exemptions, as required by law.
- Clearly state how employees can report discrimination.
- The policy should say that employees will not be punished for reporting or participating in discrimination claims.
- Protect the identity of employees that report discrimination, to the extent possible.
- Provide employees with prompt, thorough and impartial complaint investigations.
- Describe the consequences for employees that violate the non-discrimination policy.
- Research all federal, state and local discrimination laws to ensure these are all covered in companies’ handbook policies.
Consistent Processes to Resolve Complaints
If complaints arise, it’s vital to resolve them quickly and effectively. Workplace discrimination can lead to legal issues and cause employees to lose trust in their employers. Consistently address and resolve issues, highlighting that the company expects everyone to receive fair and equal treatment. Establish a process that fits your company’s size, resources and overall structure to make sure that you can successfully resolve complaints.
Merely giving employees copies of a handbook and going through the onboarding process doesn’t constitute educating them about discrimination. In fact, some states require that companies regularly provide anti-discrimination training programs. Whether or not you’re required to do so by law, it’s best that companies are proactive in educating employees about discrimination. Employees need to be aware of the policies and procedures in place, how to report allegations and what falls into the zero-tolerance category for discrimination.
Companies should also conduct separate training for management and supervisory personnel to quickly identify potential discrimination claims and fight to address them immediately.
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