It’s important to provide a safe, accepting work culture for employees in any workplace. If discriminatory behavior is allowed or overlooked by employers, they could find themselves with a lawsuit on their hands. If you have employees working below you and you want to take an active role in preventing workplace discrimination, here are a few of the steps you need to take.
It’s important to take measures early on to prevent discrimination and to protect your company against these types of lawsuits. You should implement a strict policy against unacceptable behavior and this should be clearly outlined in the handbook each employee receives during their onboarding process. These guidelines should include your policy on what behavior is discriminatory, and suggest multiple methods for reporting workplace discrimination should an employee find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
You should also implement training for your staff during their onboarding process on what behaviors will be unacceptable in the workplace. Depending on the size of your company, you may want to have training sessions each month or each year for new employees and have the human resources department discuss what is appropriate behavior and where to get help should they find themselves in a sticky situation. This may also include looking into what legally required training is required. You should also be training your management teams on how to spot workplace discrimination early on and report it to HR, or how to handle employees who may come to them with complaints. It is the job of management or anyone in a supervisory role to create a culture where inappropriate behavior is not accepted.
Look at the employees you have on board. Are they primarily a particular race? Religion? Gender? When you’re hiring new employees, you should go with the best candidate – not necessarily the candidate who is the most “diverse.” However, you should make sure you are encouraging a diverse group of individuals to apply when you are hiring for a new position. This may recruiting through different channels, promoting diversity on your website to attract candidates to your company’s culture, or offering benefits that may attract a wider range of candidates, such as increased paid maternity or paternity leave or the option for a flexible schedule. You should also be training those in your company who will be involved in the hiring process about avoiding recruitment bias.
If you believe you may have a legal suit on your hands due to workplace discrimination, or you want to be proactive and make sure your policies protect your company from retaliation, speak with a lawyer or consultant to see how you should be handling the situation. If you’re worried about an employee who may take legal action due to sexual harassment in the workplace, speak to a lawyer who is versed on the subject. If you feel an employee may sue for lost wages because they were unjustly overlooked for a raise or promotion, turn to an economic damages expert. Even if you don’t foresee a lawsuit in your near future, you should still take an active role in making sure your company is protected and providing the best culture possible for employees.