How to Confront Discrimination at Work

by Sarah Niderost, 3 minutes read
HOME blog how to confront discrimination at work

In 2020, anti-racist movements across the globe began in the U.S. after George Floyd's death. Protests occurred in effort to raise awareness of the disparities Black and African American Communities face every day.

The same year, hate crimes against Asian Americans were at an alarming level because of rhetoric often linked to claims that Asian people were responsible for the spread of COVID-19.

Hourly employees risked their health, and navigated difficult situations with customers while adapting to safety mandates brought on by the pandemic. Many shift workers are still facing discrimination in many ways, but there are ways to ensure your team feels safe and comfortable at work. Read on to learn how to handle discrimination with your staff and your stakeholders.

Stay informed

While discrimination is no stranger to the workplace, it is also multifaceted. Look beyond and dive deeper into what types of discrimination employees can face at work.

They include:

  • Race and National Origin

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Religion

  • Disability

Racial discrimination claims are the most commonly filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and have the lowest rate of success with only 15% of them receiving some form of relief or compensation.

Many people assume discrimination comes from customers and vendors visiting the workplace. But discrimination can also occur when, because of someone’s race, religion, etc., they receive worse assignments, lower pay, and they are overlooked for promotions or rewards. Discrimination can even occur in hiring processes.

Use your plan of action

If you have any official policies in your employee handbook, follow them. Make sure you’re aligned with company discrimination procedures. When navigating serious situations, it’s important that you act according to what admin and HR have documented.

Some policies can seem outdated, or not match up to your employee’s concerns. Talk with HR about updating procedures so you can support your staff as much as possible.

Communication is key

Talk with your team members. Communicating when you’re approached with their concerns will help you find ways to support them. Create safe spaces where your staff feels like they speak openly and feel heard.

Use a communication platform as a space where all of your employees can connect with you, and each other. If it has a newsfeed feature, you can also post any messages, videos, or surveys that will allow your team to feel more comfortable engaging with you. If any of your employees feel uncomfortable posting to public channels, allow them to message each other privately and schedule any time to speak with you individually.

When an employee is facing discrimination at work, make sure you’re listening and taking what they’re saying into consideration too. If anyone else on the premises was witness to the discrimination, interview any others involved.

Organize weekly or monthly meetings with your staff about any issues in the workplace. These meetings can also act as an additional safe space where everyone can be free to talk about their experience at your workplace.

Remember, the more you empower your team, the more they will be motivated to engage with you.

Focus on company culture

Shaping the way you and your team collaborate in the workplace will allow you to focus on what your team’s needs are. When employees can relate to their organizational values, they are more likely to engage.

When you and your team are working together in a thriving environment, you’ll be able to locate more ways to help them feel supported.

Continue to learn

Recent events taught employers to be more mindful about their company culture. But it has also taught them to continue to learn how they can support their teams.

Keep up-to-date with legislation involving discrimination and harassment. It will help you stay on track with your responsibilities as an employer, and allow you to focus on how those responsibilities can support your team.

Continue to listen

As time continues, be aware of any frustrations that may arise. Stay in tune with current events that may affect your team members, and be sure to let your team know that you’re on their side.

Learn more about how you can support your team by downloading the 2021 Job Search and Hiring guide.

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