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3 Ways to Tackle Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

Harassment and discrimination in the workplace not only grab the attention of the EEOC, but also the media, public and anyone else willing to listen.

Posted by Joe Gerard on December 21st, 2010


Harassment and discrimination in the workplace not only grab the attention of the EEOC, but also the media, public and anyone else willing to listen. Today’s employers must strive to be employers of choice if they wish to attract all-star talent and retain employees. Harassment and discrimination allegations paint a big red X over organizations with a reputation for hostile workplaces. To kick off the New Year on the right foot, make a commitment to preventing workplace harassment and discrimination from 2011 and onward. Here are 4 tips to help you get started:

1. Monitor

A hostile workplace ruins it for everyone. As a manager, supervisor or an employer, you need to recognize when harassment and discrimination are occurring. Nowadays, your search must go beyond the workplace and into the World Wide Web. When employees feel like they can’t turn to anyone in the company, they might turn to websites, blogs, social media pages and other outlets. For example, disgruntled employees from a number of companies have established websites where they post negative comments or “vent their frustrations”. Be on the lookout for these types of comments and sites and take action to make changes in the workplace. Don’t just sit back and let the comments roll in, perhaps you could even leave a comment yourself to find out what your employees think you could do to help.

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2. Culture

When an employer doesn’t do anything about discrimination and harassment in the workplace, it sends the message that those actions are acceptable. That’s not the corporate culture you want to develop is it? Didn’t think so. Corporate culture truly makes a difference in the way employees look at harassment and discrimination. When I spoke with Vicki Sweeney of KPMG back in September, she mentioned that she sends the following message to employees: “if you see something, say something.” Due to the culture that has been developed in her office, Vicki told me that employees have approached her and said that they almost made a discriminatory comment or retaliated against another employee, but they didn’t. They stopped what they were about to do because they remembered the training they had received, an email that was sent or a conversation they had with Vicki, communicating to them that those actions are unacceptable. Employees do remember and your words as an employer, manager or supervisor make a difference.

3. Involve Employees

Involving employees in the fight against harassment and discrimination is highly recommended by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The Commission believes that the following goals are accomplished when employees are involved in the process – as published in the “Anti-Harassment Policies for the Workplace: An Employer’s Guide“:

  • It is a good way to introduce the topic and to start educating people about what harassment is, why it is unacceptable, and what they can do about it.
  • It means that people may be less afraid to speak up if they find themselves in, or witnessing, a harassing situation.
  • It gives a strong, clear message that the employer supports the policy and will not tolerate harassment.
  • It gives employees a personal interest in the policy, making them more likely to understand and support it.
  • Employees will feel their contributions are valued, and it may increase their satisfaction with their workplace.

Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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