5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do To Prevent Discrimination

Illustration by Julia Hanke via Dribbble

At present, society views workplaces as having equal employment opportunities for employees of different backgrounds. HR-related issues such as inclusivity jumpstarted the idea of equality by creating an environment that promotes a culture of equality and diversity.

By preventing discrimination from the time one joins a company, the workplace becomes a healthy place, with diverse people working together towards one goal. But sometimes, no matter how inclusive company policies are, discrimination can still happen among workmates and clients. Despite the government’s efforts against discrimination, this flaw remains, and everyone is affected in one way or another.

Different Kinds of Discrimination in the Workplace

When you look at it closely, it all comes down to personal differences. And the thing is, they mostly happen due to circumstances that are out of our control. Here are some of the types of discrimination that occur and might be happening at your workplace.

 icon-angle-right Age Discrimination

Age Discrimination mostly happens during the hiring or giving of benefits to employees. Make sure that the age limit of your recruitment does not discriminate against anybody. However, if your business has something to do with substances that are mainly age-restricted, this is where you must consider accepting only those of legal age.

The retirement age of 65 must be kept in mind. Thus, you must not limit the age group of your hiring, whether it’s favorable to only the young ones or you prefer more senior and experienced workers. After all, your employees’ abilities are what truly matters when it comes to performing tasks.

 icon-angle-right Gender Discrimination

People must not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or if they have undergone gender reassignment. It does not make them any different from other employees, so they must be treated like their co-workers. Gender discrimination can happen anywhere. Your company should be a safe space where they are allowed to express their gender orientation.

 icon-angle-right Race Discrimination

Direct discrimination against race, nationality, ethnicity, or place of origin when recruiting employees is unlawful for any business. An employee’s ability to work does not come with their race. This is one of the most pressing issues present in society that must be eliminated to achieve peace and ensure everyone’s safety.

 icon-angle-right Discrimination on Religion or Belief

An employer must not take religion or belief into account when accepting employees or giving them benefits. As long as their faith does not interfere with the integrity of their work, it shouldn’t be an issue and, therefore, should not be used against them.

 icon-angle-right Discrimination on Disability

Employees with disabilities may have a physical or mental impairment that affects their daily activities for an extended period. Some businesses are strict when it comes to differently-abled people. However, as long as the disability does not impair the quality of work, there should not be any problem hiring them.

Companies need to make reasonable adjustments to enable people with disabilities to continue working without much disadvantage compared to their abled co-workers. Employers must not take away the opportunity for them to work but instead help them do their jobs efficiently by adjusting their workload or other manners that would benefit both.

 icon-angle-right Discrimination on Marital Status

You must give equal opportunities to single (with or without children) and married employees in your company. Marital status does not affect the quality of work they can do.

It is also vital to give similar benefits to married employees and those with civil partnerships, such as healthcare benefits. However, do not extend those benefits to those who are not in these kinds of relationships.

 icon-angle-right Sex, Maternity, and Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnant women should be given the same treatment as other employees as long as their pregnancy does not directly affect their work. Also, if they ask for maternity leave, you should not dismiss them as it is their right.

In terms of sex, you can explicitly state the sex of the preferred applicant as a job requirement if the work is recommended for a particular gender or sexuality.

Sexual harassment or harassment related to sex must not be the norm in your workplace. This includes sexual jokes, the display of offensive materials, sexual gestures or comments, and asking for sexual favors in exchange for a benefit.

What Employers Can Do to Foster Equality and Diversity

Promoting diversity in the workplace is a way to foster equality. Having a diverse workforce can also benefit the company as ideas that can help productivity and efficiency in meeting the goals, including business growth, can also be diversified.

Inclusivity boosts the team’s morale. Employees will feel accepted and involved in the company, encouraging a better working relationship between you as their employer and them, as well as among their fellow employees.

However, it does not guarantee that discrimination won’t happen. Employees are the priority in a company, so here are some ways to protect your employees from discrimination:

#1. Understand Legal Requirements

Study your requirements and obligations for making an inclusive workspace for you and your employees. Discrimination against race, gender, ethnicity, religion, family status, disability, and sexual orientation is prohibited by federal and state human rights legislation.

Other regions also require workplace policies against discrimination. However, even without the mandatory requirement, it is a convenient concept to put in to protect your employees and make your company friendlier for people of all walks of life.

The policy should consist of acts considered discriminating against others, an outline on how to file for complaint, and how it will be investigated and documented by the company. Lastly, the corresponding measures to be taken once proven must be included so that employees can feel more at ease.

#2. Eliminate Hiring Biases

Hiring biases can often happen, whether it is intentional or not. A résumé from a known family or graduating from a top university look more appealing than those with unfamiliar names and information. However, you must not let these sway you into letting go of an excellent candidate just because they do not have outstanding credentials or names.

You can conduct blind recruitment where the names and other information about the applicants will be hidden in the meantime. It is also better to put up a panel to evaluate the candidates than just a single person.

This can significantly reduce biases in choosing new employees, and you will be able to give a bigger opportunity to those who do not have excellent credentials but seem like a promising asset for the company.

#3. Encourage Your Employees to Report Malicious Behavior

The continuous reminder of the anti-discrimination policies can help encourage employees to report malicious behavior. However, sometimes it may not be enough, as they may be afraid of reporting what they know. Set up various activities or projects that can help them understand that those policies are not there for nothing.

For example, why not incorporate a similar concept of guidance counselors in schools in your company? You should know their story to keep track of how your employees are faring. Encourage them as much as you can and make them feel safe in the workplace because they are your priority.

#4. Provide Sensitivity Training

Setting up sensitivity training can help your employees look at their actions to know if they are affecting others negatively or not. Sometimes, other people don’t immediately realize the weight of their actions or words. With sensitivity training, the biases and prejudice that are happening can be pointed out, and employees can fix these issues easily.

They will be able to address their offensive deeds once they know how they affected others. Also, this kind of training will open the employees to different perspectives regarding various matters that can help them widen their views and opinions.

#5. Take Action when Discrimination Happens

If discrimination takes place, take action immediately. The longer you neglect it, the bigger it can get and the bigger the damage to the affected person, too. Also, it is only righteous and lawful not to turn a blind eye when misdeed happens in your company.

Taking action does not only help the victim and educate the offender but also shows that the company will not tolerate such offense. This can breed fairness in your workplace as it will be apparent to the employees that the policy is there for a reason.

Keep Your Workplace Friendly for Everyone

Since companies are more open to working with various people nowadays, internal conflict among co-workers, especially those who are different in specific ways, can arise. No matter how normal it may sound, it should not be tolerated, especially if it crosses the line to become unlawful.

A workplace must be comfortable for everyone and not a breeding zone for offenders and discrimination. Employees must be well aware of what they should not do against their co-workers. That is why an anti-discrimination policy must be made.

The company must also work hard to eradicate all forms of discrimination by preventing it from happening and taking action if it does occur. However, companies must first consider creating a diverse and inclusive workplace to promote inclusivity.

About the Author!

Viridiana Valdes. Experienced Marketing Specialist at Shegerian & Associates with a demonstrated history of working in the law practice industry. Skilled in Business Process, Negotiation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Management, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Strong marketing professional with a Strategic Marketing focused in Marketing from Panamerican Consulting Group and Universidad Rafael Landivar.

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