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How Can Businesses Train Their Employees Against Workplace Discrimination?

Updated: Jan 10

Businesses have a long way to go when it comes to eliminating workplace discrimination, but you can start the work by educating employees at all levels. By Amanda Connor I December 23, 2021

Though there have already been many developments regarding the way we work, numerous businesses still fail to eradicate discrimination as a prominent workplace problem. In fact, the EEOC reported that over 137,000 charges have been filed regarding workplace discrimination in the past couple of years. Retaliation makes up half of the charges filed, followed by discrimination against disability, race, gender, age, nationality, color, religion, equal pay, and genetic information.

Businesses have a long way to go when it comes to eliminating workplace discrimination, but you can start the work by educating employees at all levels. Here’s how you can train your employees to put a stop to discrimination:

Reframe negative ideas to reduce discrimination against female leaders

Female managers still experience discrimination from their employees. The World Economic Forum even revealed that employees were likely to react negatively towards criticism made by female leaders due to gendered expectations of management styles. As such, businesses are carrying out research-based steps to eliminate discrimination against women in leadership, such as highlighting their credentials to the workforce. This is valuable in establishing their credibility since many more female professionals hold advanced degrees than men, such as those focused specifically on leadership training. Programs in management and leadership equip individuals with in-demand administrative knowledge, such as human resources management, organizational behavior, and business ethics. And these skills make for competent leadership — regardless of gender. By educating employees on leadership qualifications, they will better appreciate their manager's guidance and feedback.

Train leaders to spot and address discrimination in business processes

Recognizing that retaliation makes up the highest incidence rate in workplaces, businesses must prioritize training their managers in eliminating discrimination in business processes. On top of that, managers also have greater control over their current and prospective employees in a number of business processes, putting employees at a clear disadvantage. As such, one of our articles on workplace discrimination states that senior-level employees should learn how to spot the more subtle signs of discrimination. Some of the subtler signs include lack of promotions, intrusive interview questions, inappropriate use of language, unequal pay, and unequal role distribution. Once the senior management has spotted these signs of discrimination, they should establish and discuss new guidelines against discriminatory practices in the workplace.

Establish and discuss workplace policies about discrimination

After spotting gaps in existing workplace policies, senior managers need to discuss existing workplace policies about discrimination with the employees. This helps the workforce understand their rights in the workplace as well as their responsibilities in eliminating discrimination. You can train your employees against workplace discrimination by first establishing that any injustice regarding race, color, religion, sex, nationality, disability, age, or genetic information is illegal and should not be tolerated. Then, provide explanations and examples of these instances so employees can spot the signs and reflect on their actions as well. You should also have an in-depth discussion about the policies and procedures regarding discrimination. This includes teaching them your entire process in investigating and resolving discrimination as well as the consequences of violating these policies.

Teach employees how to spot and respond to discrimination from customers

Though many businesses like to proclaim that the customers are always right, there are numerous instances where these individuals can go overboard and end up discriminating against employees. As such, businesses should also extend their training on discrimination to the employees. Teach the workforce how to spot and respond to unjust customers. To illustrate, employers must teach their employees to report discriminatory instances, such as inappropriate jokes or racist remarks. Employers also need to train their employees and managers on how to respond to discriminating individuals in a professional yet firm manner. Finally, the entire workforce should be aware of who to call should a customer cross the line and the legal repercussions of doing so.

Discrimination can occur in different forms and throughout various business processes. Thus, business owners should educate employees of all levels on how they can address discrimination and eliminate it. This includes reframing negative biases against female leaders, training leaders to spot and address discrimination in business processes, discussing revised workplace policies, and training staff to respond to discriminatory customers.

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