Discrimination occurs when companies treat protected classes of individuals differently within the organization. Employment discrimination can occur after an individual begins working for the company as an employee, or during the hiring process.
With the increase in attention to discriminatory actions, companies have begun adopting anti-discrimination policies. However, they should also focus on building a corporate culture that prevents discrimination.
Learn about discrimination and its associated laws
Not only should employers learn about employment discrimination, but they should learn about overt and covert discrimination. One inappropriate or offensive phrase or word can constitute overt discrimination, while subtly layering insults is more covert. Employers should also review and address common industry biases.
Companies can use this information to structure internal policies that combat discriminatory practices and actions, but they should also share their findings with their staff members.
Pursue a culture of accountability
When companies implement policies that identify and work to prevent discrimination, they should get buy-in from the entire company. However, if employees or managers participate in these actions, the company needs to hold them accountable based on the policy guidelines. For example, some organizations adopt no-tolerance policies while others offer training after the first offense and termination after successive instances.
Encourage open communication about discrimination
Employees should feel comfortable going to management when they experience or see discrimination. To gain this comfort, management needs to encourage them to come forward and speak out. You can even create a reporting system that makes the process easier and less intimidating. Back your employees with a policy that prevents retaliation.
When organizations understand the full range of employment discrimination that can occur, they can build corporate cultures that protect their employees.