HRTech Tips
7 Min

5 Ways to Prevent Workplace Discrimination

November 11, 2021

Workplace discrimination and employment discrimination; Two serious concerns that can pose a significant threat to the progress of work and the availability of specialized personnel. Discrimination is a destructive behavior in all areas of life, which becomes even more important in professional life. Workplace discrimination can occur without our awareness, and we'll only notice it when it has a detrimental effect on our employees' work and performance. But how can we prevent this from happening? If you are reading this article now, this is most likely your question too! It's great if you want to take a positive and legal step towards the well-being of both your employees and the workplace by preventing discrimination from the source "recruitment system".

Workplace Discrimination And Its Impacts On Employees

Discrimination is the state of the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, sex, or disability.

  • Gender 
  • National origin
  • Ethnicity
  • Religious affiliations
  • Skin color

Which one between discrimination among workplace and within the recruitment process is more dangerous? Well to me, both are dangerous and may even lead to failure in our work. Consider how you might pay two employees in the same position with equal abilities different salaries or how you might make hiring decisions based on factors like gender or nationality when reviewing candidate profiles. I believe learning how to prevent factors that cause discrimination could be a must for everyone from the founders and C-Levels to employees and candidates.

Results of NIH Studies on the Outcomes of Discrimination in the Workplace

It is critical to understand that workplace discrimination and harassment have adverse mental and even physical effects on employees, leading to a workplace disaster over time. I believe these are undoubtedly things you do not want to experience at work, and you certainly do not want to hire people based on their gender, culture, nationality, or skin color.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) research results, employees exposed to discrimination in the workplace have higher levels of psychological distress and health-related problems than those who do not. I reflect a few of them here:

  • Racial discrimination can lead to smoking;
  • Workplace bullying and sexual harassment can lead to binge drinking;
  • Aches and pains;
  • Cardiovascular illness;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Obesity;
  • Breast cancer;
  • Developing anxiety disorders;
  • Depression; 
  • And sometimes suicide.

These physical and psychological problems are rooted in the stress that employees experience in the workplace due to discrimination. And all of this leads to the following in workplace:

  • Increase in absenteeism;
  • losing team collaboration and dynamics;
  • Defame your brand and hiring system;
  • failure to recruit highly qualified people;
  • losing innovation and proactivity;
  • Finally, create a poor work culture.

You're probably looking for measures to avoid discrimination in the workplace and among employees as a leader or someone attempting to hire the right talents. But how? I'll go over five effective and efficient ways to avoid workplace discrimination in the remainder of this article.

5 Ways To Prevent Workplace Discrimination

You play an important role in fostering a work environment that promotes awareness and the value of a diverse workplace. In other words, you will determine the fate of your company and business, so consider the importance of these factors:

1- Learn about anti-discrimination laws

Each country, city, state and the federal state has its legislation to combat workplace discrimination. It is advisable to become acquainted with all of the rules before establishing an anti-discrimination policy for an organization. You may ask how? Let me explain. You might need to be familiar with the concept in your geographical area and understand which categories are the most perceived types: race, gender, nationality, or skin color. Therefore, I recommend that you review all the rules applicable to your company records with the HR and leadership team to understand the full scope of anti-discrimination laws. You might find it constructive to consult an employment lawyer if you want to establish an up-to-date policy according to the new anti-discrimination laws.

2- Set an anti-discrimination policy

It is crucial to set anti-discrimination policies to protect the future of workplace. I suggest bring it transparently up and make it public to let candidates. Communicate your company's viewpoint and objectives regarding workplace discrimination. Now that you are aware of anti-discrimination principles, consider the following when writing a policy:

  • Precise definitions of discrimination and harassment;
  • A thorough list of all protected classes in all operational regions;
  • Beyond the physical workplace, a full expression of the anti-discrimination movement;
  • Implement an accessible communication channel for employees to report discrimination in the workplace;
  • Determine all disciplinary actions for employees who engage in discriminatory behavior;
  • Establish a mandatory sign off system on the policy form to ensure that all employees have read and agree to these rules.

Send an anti-discrimination policy to new or existing employees by email or any other modes of communication once it has been created and prepared. This may appear to be a tedious and time-consuming process at first, but you will reap the rewards in the long term as your business and company expand. Design the required process, monitoring system and a whistle blow box, email address or a landing page to the reports.

3- Implement training programs

Implementation of mandatory anti-discrimination training is essential to ensure that employees know and comply with anti-discrimination laws. It is better to have training sessions periodically in different levels to remind lesson learnt. Employees should sign acknowledgments confirming their engagement and understanding of the activity and policy. You can organize this anti-discrimination program in different ways, but in my opinion, the best way is to combine micro-learning with face-to-face learning. When employees can gather around a table and talk about their experiences of discrimination in the workplace, you will get a remarkable result. As a result, don't forget to hold these sessions.

4- Investigate discrimination complaints

When you can investigate and respond to complaints about discrimination in the workplace or even during the hiring process, your employment system's credibility and the face of your anti-discrimination work environment will improve. As a result, I predict that applicants will be enthusiastic about your job offer, and you will be able to hire a qualified team. But what steps do you need to take to investigate these complaints properly?

  • Once you have received the complaint, start the investigation and do not delay it even for a day;
  • Choose the right ones for the mission;
  • Examine the evidence of discrimination and interview with the employee who filed the complaint;
  • Protect the employee from any retaliation; otherwise, the work environment will be disturbed;
  • Document the investigation and take appropriate action.

5- Prevent unintentional discrimination

Sometimes discrimination in the workplace or among employees is unintentional and based on unconscious bias or impartial decision making. You may be unaware that some seemingly fair hiring practices can be discriminatory for a specific class of workers. A standardized reading test, for example, can be used to discriminate against job candidates with learning disabilities. While this discrimination is completely unconscious and based on the neutral decisions, you have made. This can harm the thoughts of candidates and even employees. What should we do?

As recruiters and leaders, we must always be up to date and know all the discriminatory platforms and systems. Statistical analysis and validation tests can help you determine whether alternative processes and policies are required. If you can do your job with such awareness, the path to success will become much smoother for you.

The Takeaway

As a founder, CEO, CHRO or recruiter, we can achieve significant success if we consider implementing a non-discriminatory system from the start. In addition to the five workplace discrimination prevention strategies listed above, you should consider and implement the following:

  • Examine the risks of discrimination, including sexual harassment, retaliation (punishment), and other barriers to individuals' rights and facilities;
  • Prohibition of discrimination based on sexual identity;
  • Creating a transparent and fair wage distribution;
  • Prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation;
  • Allocation of special facilities for pregnant women;
  • Providing family leave.

Employers must carry out these actions in the following five areas in four steps (review, analysis, action, and follow-up):

  • Work relationships;
  • Ordinary decisions and procedures of salaries and other employment conditions;
  • Education and enhance other abilities;
  • Recruitment and promotion;
  • Ability to integrate work

Finally, I hope this article has been helpful to you and that you can take the first steps to prevent workplace discrimination.

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