For companies operating overseas, racial equality is the norm. Special departments for DEI (Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion) are set up, where every employee irrespective of caste, color, or creed, is given the freedom to opine about, complain about or improve company policies.
For any entrepreneur or company owner, it is important to understand the value of people. People work for you. They are employed by you, but also share your company goals and vision.
Many business owners in India aren’t aware of the covert and overt ways employees face discrimination in the workplace. This could either be during the recruitment process or even after.
The Government of India set up workplace guidelines in 2011 that dictated equal opportunities be meted to employees, irrespective of creed, caste, race, gender, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
Handling workplace discrimination
Non-discrimination in the workplace is far from reality. According to a 2018 statistics release, The India Responsible Business Index (RIBI) ranked the top 99 BSE-listed companies over five parameters.
One parameter was ‘non-discrimination’. Close to twenty-four companies did not disclose their commitment to non-discrimination during the recruitment process. This is about India.
Even if you run an agency or company in the US, Australia, South Africa, or Singapore, there are a few common steps you can take, in order to, handle workplace discrimination better.
Workplace discrimination solution #1 – Establish a culture
Instead of discussing things every employee should not be doing, promote activities that your organization wants to build its work culture on.
Strive for an inclusive work culture that is the hallmark of a respectful workplace. Taking stringent action towards perpetrators is important, but try not to be derailed by assumptions or stereotypes.
Workplace discrimination solution #2 – Bystander intervention
Encourage bystanders to step forward and report instances of discrimination. Put up posters or hoardings around encouraging equal work culture.
Nobody likes to see this at their business or company, but if it does happen, find witnesses who can help you or your management to make the right decision.
Set up easy channels of communication so that employees facing unfair treatment can come forward without fear. Set a model for bystander intervention so that everyone knows what role he/she can play.
Workplace discrimination solution #3 – Accountability is key
Wherever people work, there is a possibility of discrimination. The only way this can be stopped at workplaces is if the perpetrators are held accountable.
Also, it always cannot be a ‘people issue’. The system needs to be blamed as well if you don’t come up with enough guidelines or authority to tame discrimination.
The HR department is usually the first point of contact when it comes to addressing issues. Set up training sessions for your HR department with discrimination experts so that they know what to do in case of any discrimination reported at work.
Ask them to conduct periodic surveys to check on the employees. Culture audits and anti-discrimination policy meetings should be on their calendars every month at least.
Establish multiple outlets to report discrimination. A dedicated number/email address can work. Be respectful to complaints. Try to show empathy and avoid retaliation or denying any such thing that can occur at your workplace.
Workplace discrimination solution #4 – Respond collectively
When someone comes forward with an issue with regards to discrimination, promptly investigate their claim.
The person guilty could be anywhere on the organizational hierarchy, it is important to adhere to company policies.
As the co-founder, owner, or head of the organization, assesses and addresses a response culture. Conduct a good-faith, thorough, and confidential investigation.
The response could shake the foundations of your business, but what needs to be done, got to be done.
If you are a startup founder and need help in setting up a discrimination policy, we can help you set things in order.
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