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Tips for preventing workplace discrimination and harassment

Most small business owners understand the importance of creating a workplace where employees feel secure and appreciated. Too often, though, even well-meaning owners fail to create an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. In fact, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that its agency handled more than 67,000 charges of workplace discrimination in 2020.

As a business owner, you can take preemptive steps to promote a fair, safe workplace. Consider these best practices as you work to prevent discriminatory behavior and harassment in the office.

Establish clear policies

Your first priority should be to adopt policies, in writing, that clearly state your expectations concerning discrimination. In addition to addressing everyday interactions, these policies should spell out how your company will maintain fair practices related to hiring and firing procedures, promotions and compensation.

You should also provide instructions on how to report problems and inform your employees what to expect from the disciplinary process.

Provide training and education

Training is an important part of ensuring that all employees understand what constitutes discrimination and harassment and how to avoid such behaviors in the office. Your managers and supervisors may need additional education to help them identify and deal with problems among their subordinates.

Respond to problems immediately

Even with proactive measures, harassment and discrimination can still occur. When an issue arises, you need to take action right away and follow the procedures outlined in your established policies. You should always address negative behavior immediately, doing everything possible to prevent reoccurrence.

Employees often take cues from leadership. As the boss, you should make sure to set an example by treating all people with respect and fairness.

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