August 16, 2021

5 Ways to Avoid Discrimination and Harassment In The Workplace

by Mike O'Neill

As a business owner, the number of daily responsibilities you have never seems to go away and never seems to get easier no matter how long you run your business. With so many responsibilities on your plate, the last thing you want to worry about is the inappropriate behavior of your employees. After all, it is easy to assume that we have hired employees who are an asset to their job and are good people. 

Preventing discrimination might seem like more of an afterthought or an “I’ll address it if it happens” scenario. However, this is something you do not want to ignore. Protecting your employees from discrimination should not be an afterthought. It’s the law. Many problems can be prevented before they escalate by having a strong set of rules and procedures defining workplace discrimination and harassment. 

By having clear established written rules, you are already taking the first crucial step toward preventing workplace discrimination. A set of rules is the easiest and most effective way to ensure that every employee follows the rules and avoids discrimination and harassment incidents. Every business should have an employee handbook, which explains everything an employee would need to know, from benefits to rules on what is not allowed in the workplace. 

By establishing set rules, you save time and prevent future conflicts that can quickly escalate. Clear rules clarify what is and is not appropriate workplace behavior.

If you do not know how to tackle this subject, here are five essential ways to avoid discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

5 Key Ways To Avoid Workplace Discrimination and Harassment

1. Provide Plenty of Specific Examples

When giving a list of possible acts of discrimination, make sure you cover a wide and varied range of examples.  These examples will ensure that no employees are unaware and no claims of ignorance of the rules. If your business is specialized, make sure that all potential scenarios are covered offering clear examples that apply to that particular workplace. Some examples include restaurants, hospitals, and warehouses. 

2. Provide a Safe Environment for Everyone

Create an environment where your employees feel safe around each other. However, this should never be to the point of being fearful of saying the wrong thing and facing repercussions. Employees should also think that they can safely report an incident with confidence and confidentiality without fear of ridicule or backlash.

3. Make Your Processes Easy to Understand

Make sure that your employees have a straightforward and easy-to-understand reporting process to report all incidents. Ensure that employees know exactly what to do, who to contact, how to file a report, and when to expect a follow-up should they be victims of discrimination or harassment. You can handle these incidents internally or even through a third party. A third party might be beneficial if the employee feels uncomfortable talking with their supervisor or manager.

4. Hold Regular Training Sessions 

Conducting Anti Discrimination and Harassment Training Sessions will be another essential step in ensuring that your employees understand what is acceptable and not acceptable.  A variety of sources are qualified for this training ranging from business coaches to law firms. Also, make sure that this is not a simple one-and-done training session, as it is vital to have regular sessions to ensure that the rules and consequences are always known and relevant. You should also continually review these policies at meetings and keep records of when you discuss them. With something as serious as discrimination and harassment, it is something that .you should always cover.

5. Keep Consistency for Everyone

Your actions should always be consistent when it comes to handling incidents.  There are no exceptions. There are no favorites. There are no biases when handling incidents. From the CEO to the janitor, you should treat all incidents the same way.  

A Positive Workplace Begins With You

Sadly, acts of discrimination and harassment are still prevalent in the workplace. As long as they remain a threat in the workplace, ensuring proper education and procedures are in place only goes so far. The rest of the responsibility falls on you. 

It is up to you, the business leader, and your senior staff to set and lead by example to show that you are committed to these procedures. If your employees see you committed to these principles, they will be less likely to violate them and engage in inappropriate behavior when they know the consequences are serious. 

By doing this, you can not only create a positive environment for your employees, but you can create a safe and trustworthy company culture that will benefit not only your employees but your business as a whole. 

If you find yourself experiencing difficulty creating a set of rules that keep your employees safe, consider contacting Bench Builders Business Coaching. We have decades of experience helping business owners just like you get unstuck and find solutions to problems. 

We work with you to find the best combination of tools and custom strategies to get the results you’re seeking.

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