Every office needs to focus on stopping discrimination from taking place. The steps after discriminating acts are crucial but, first, address the issue. Why should discrimination still be a concern, standing in 2022? It is essential to take a step to prevent every possible way of discrimination in the workplace. Every employee must feel secure, safe and most importantly, respected in their professional field. It is the duty of the employer and HR professionals.
The need for Non-discrimination policies – Every workplace needs to exhibit a strong and harsh stand against discriminatory actions. It entirely depends on the leaders and the HR policies. They are the ultimate agents that help create a healthy workspace environment, Of no force or effect: null of any discriminatory actions. However, having policies and strict rules against discrimination does not always restrict a person to victimize their colleagues. So, it is vital to keep the doors open so they can report and discuss the matter without any apprehension or judgement.
Understanding discrimination in a workspace
Discrimination means the act of distinguishing an individual and treating them unequally. Workplace discrimination can happen in numerous ways and may target different characteristics of an individual. Discrimination can be on the grounds of –
- Sexual orientation
- Mental and physical state
- Medical condition
- Body and physical attributes
- Religion, and many more.
Ways to help the employees – Workplace discrimination is a worrying concern for all organizations. It is disgraceful to the company and reduces employee retention rates. It also impacts service efficiency as employees cannot work dutifully and undergo psychological turmoil. Discrimination does not only restrict to gender or color-based distinguishing. There are other ways also that make a person feel secluded in their professional space. But who do they approach with the problems? The human resource department is the only option they have to fight for their workplace rights.
Clarify the rules and regulations for all employees
Educate employees about the legal actions and corporate punishments for workplace discrimination. Simultaneously inform everyone about the types of discrimination and stay alert of not promoting such acts. You must also guide them to revolt against anyone promoting discrimination and bring light on the matter by discussing it with the HR manager.
A proactive step from the managers and organization head can reduce numerous victimizing cases in the workplace. It can include preventive training sessions conducted by field professionals. They can guide the existing employee base about the sensitive topics and concerns that can trigger such discriminating acts in the workspace.
Workshop to prevent discrimination and educate employees
One effective way of preventing discrimination is by explaining with real-life examples or unnoticed incidents that had already taken place in the workspace. This way, everybody can understand what is right and wrong. Educational workshops and interactive sessions on workplace discrimination help the employees open up and discuss the matter without apprehension.
Explain resolving techniques and steps against workplace discrimination
Besides recognizing ways of preventing the act, inform employees of the correct methods of addressing discrimination in the workplace. Where should an employee go if they face discrimination in their professional space? Educate them about the company policies and punishments, so the victim can confidently approach the HR manager to discuss the matter.
Advise employees to come forward with complaints – Encourage employees to talk to the HR department and come forward with the complaint in the case of workspace discrimination. Assuring them of justice is the first sensible step you can take as an HR professional. Advise every employee to practice their rights if they face any misconduct or discrimination.
Communicate better and understand the scenario
Communicate with every employee to understand how they feel about office dynamics. Ask them if they have any suggestions to improve the existing anti-discrimination policies in the office premise. It will help you understand whether the employees are getting benefitted through the HR policies. It is impossible for an HR professional to know everything that is happening in the office all the time to prevent victimization acts within the premise. So, a routine session to communicate with every employee is vital.
Review the unconscious discrimination acts in a workspace
Review the workspace scenario and employee conduct by analyzing the one-to-one conversation you have with the employees. It will help you comprehend if there are any unconscious discrimination happening in the office culture. It can be anything from body shaming to making someone embarrassed of their physical attributes! It is vital to understand and warn employees about such actions.
Practical steps to take
As an HR professional, you should know the ways to help the employees if they face discrimination in the office. But what are the steps to take before any misconduct takes place? Here are some ways to prevent unwanted situations –
- Team building: Team building promotes a sense of equality and thus reduces the chances of discrimination. Everyone gets equal treatment and feels responsible. It is a wise way to prevent discrimination and increase productivity.
- Better interaction: Keeping a convenient communication channel is crucial in the office. An employee must be able to connect to the higher authority if they wish to. Ensure better interaction between the employees and authorities to avoid mismanagement and discrimination.
- Soft-skill training to team managers: By providing soft-skill training to the team managers, the cases can be resolved even before escalating the matter to the HR department. A team manager has a better rapport with the team members and thus can talk to resolve the matter. At times, it can also prevent the possibility of workplace harassment and victimization. These are proactive steps that help in managing practical situations at work.
- Committee creation: Committee creation is the foremost step to take for resolving discrimination cases. The victim can approach the committee and disclose the matter with the hope of getting a swift and justified solution. Companies can also create online forums where there can be meaningful content on workplace practices to educate the employees conveniently and prevent unwanted incidents.
Ensure a swift resolving technique
Set an example of swift processing with discrimination actions. Delayed action from HR or a biased judgment is the worst thing to happen inside an office. Ensure that employees do not have to face such issues while coming forward with a discrimination complaint.
Make the workplace safe for female employees by creating a committee that handles the incidents that fall under the POSH Act, 2013. It is crucial to create a systematic setup through which the victim can approach the management and get swift treatment. Set up a grievance redressal committee or internal committee that specifically manages such unwanted cases in the office premise.
Maintain confidentiality in the entire process
Keeping the names of the employees confidential if they wish to is a vital step by HR. Structure a The legal document issued to the policyholder that outlines the conditions and terms of the insurance; also called the ‘policy that allows the victim to fight for their rights without taking names or making their name public in the matter. This way, everyone in the office can step forward without fearing the consequences or deal with the trauma. It helps the employees to grow psychologically strong and immediately report such unwanted incidents without fear.
Ending note – Promote a healthy working environment for all.
Ensure that the company’s work ethics are not violated, and equality prevails at every instance. The best way to promote a healthy workplace environment is by practicing what you preach. Calling out if there is discrimination happening in your presence is vital. As an HR, you do not have to always wait for the employees to come forward if you encounter a discriminating action. Be consistent with the HR actions. Set a powerful example so the employees can approach without concerns.