How to Stop Discrimination in the Workplace

In 2023, the workplace can look different for everyone – whether that may be in an office, on a job site, in a coffee shop, or even at home. These work spaces, no matter what the environment, need to feel safe for everyone regardless of their age, race, religion, gender, or sexual preference. A workplace should encourage all employees to work, learn, and grow as professionals, and learning how to stop discrimination in the workplace is a continuous project that is mutually beneficial for both the business and its employees. 

Discrimination in the workplace can have a profound and negative impact on employees, leading to decreased job satisfaction, decreased productivity, and a hostile work environment. It is crucial for employers to take proactive steps to prevent discrimination and create a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees. In this article, we will explore nine effective ways to stop discrimination in the workplace.

What Does Workplace Discrimination Look Like?

The first step to stopping discrimination is to recognize what discrimination can look like. No employee should ever receive any different treatment than another employee treating someone at work differently because of their race, gender, age, ethnicity, sex, as well as physical and mental disabilities. 

Discrimination can also be seen towards people with prior jail or prison time. Further, discrimination can be systemic in policies and the hiring process. Discrimination is often based on prejudices conscious or subconscious, which can be hard to recognize, and this is why it’s necessary to understand and rectify. 

Change can be uncomfortable, and some employees may prove resistant to change. Diversity brings new ideas, strategies, and innovations to companies. A successful leader in business must exemplify what it means to be non-discriminatory in all their actions and interpersonal work relationships. 

The IRCA (1968) prevents employers from not hiring someone based on their citizenship and origin, however, even with these laws in place there can still be a lack of diversity in the office space. 

9 Ways to End Discrimination in the Workplace

Implement Non-Discrimination Policies and Enforce Them Consistently

Policies are often set up for the benefit of the business as well as to create a successful and safe environment. Having clear policies that prohibit all forms of discrimination is crucial to ensuring a safe and inclusive workplace. 

These policies should be communicated to all employees and should include a clear process for reporting and addressing instances of discrimination. It’s important to enforce these policies consistently and fairly across all employees to communicate clearly that discrimination is unacceptable. This helps to prevent discrimination before it occurs and to address it quickly when it does.

An example of a discriminatory policy could be “English speaking only” causing many people who could provide value to the company to be overlooked. Creating new policies can also be a way of creating a higher standard and proving that the company is willing to go the extra mile to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion. Following through on what the companies standards are when workers are being uncivil to each other models exactly what employees expect and need.  

Provide Diversity and Inclusion Training to Employees

Diversity and inclusion training can help employees understand the impact of discrimination and how to work against it actively. The training should educate employees on the various forms of discrimination, how to identify it, and how to handle it appropriately. 

Training resources on diversity are practically endless these days. Leaders should be expected not only to train on preventing discrimination, but also on how to train their own employees to recognize the signs and report immediately. This can also help employees to recognize their own biases and work to overcome them.

Continuing education for both employees and employers should be a priority when looking to stop workplace discrimination. There are a multitude of benefits for both employees and employers in advancing DEI knowledge and eliminating prejudice and bias. 

Regular training can help create a more inclusive workplace culture and promote positive relationships among employees. Classes should be done often as both a refresher and a check-in. Be sure to build it into your yearly training calendar.

Work With HR on Ending Workplace Discrimination

When taking further steps toward stopping discrimination in the workplace, it is necessary to partner with Human Resources. The men and women in HR should be trained to follow specific protocol and policies to prevent discrimination in the hiring process. In addition, when problematic situations arise, HR should be involved with resolving the situation and preventing the next incident. 

In order to provide the best possible solution, an HR  manager needs to be adequately trained  on how to become non-discriminatory as well as anti-racist. High-ranking business leaders must give HR the tools and policies it needs in order to provide a safer and healthy work environment. These tools could include benefits, mental health days, and a safe place to communicate with other workers.

DEI Values in Hiring, Retention, and Promotion 

The EEOC expresses that systemic discrimination is found when looking to hire, retain, or promote employees. There are a few ways to stop this kind of systematic discrimination. 

For organizations looking to build diversity, equity, and inclusion, company data needs to be analyzed. Check the ages, gender, race, religion, and more to make sure it doesn’t fall under one category. 

Promoting diversity in hiring and promotion practices is a vital part of putting an end to discrimination in the workplace. This can include using diverse recruiting sources, having diverse interview panels, and ensuring that promotion criteria are equitable and non-discriminatory. These steps will help ensure that all employees have equal opportunities for advancement, regardless of their background.

Hiring employees that want to be a part of a diverse space will also prove beneficial when it comes to providing DEI training as they will be eager to learn. This in turn will promote a safe environment where workers feel welcome and accepted. 

Diversifying leadership is another key step to overcoming discrimination in the workpalce. Promotions are common areas in companies where discrimination can rear its ugly head. When moving up the ladder, who are the people promoted? Does the diversity stop at the lowest level of payment? Again, looking at data and analytics will help provide important details that can help strategize how to stop discrimination. 

Take Discrimination Complaints Seriously

While diversity training is beneficial, in order to see it through, there needs to be reliable follow-through on complaints. Encourage employees to report instances of discrimination and establish a process for addressing such reports. 

Encouraging employees to report cases of discrimination and having a clear process for addressing such reports is vital for addressing and preventing discrimination. This can include having a confidential reporting system, ensuring that employees feel comfortable reporting instances of discrimination, and ensuring that reports are investigated promptly and fairly. This helps to ensure that instances of discrimination are addressed quickly and effectively.

Encourage Open Communication 

Not only is taking discrimination complaints seriously important, but equally vital is creating an atmosphere where people are willing and feel safe to express concerns without fear of retaliation

Encouraging open communication and active listening to employees’ concerns can help create a safe and inclusive workplace. By creating an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their experiences, employers can better understand and address instances of discrimination. This can also help employees to feel valued and supported, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity.

Accountability for Discriminatory Actions

Hold individuals accountable for their actions, including disciplinary action for instances of discrimination. This is crucial for sending a clear message that discrimination is not tolerated. 

This includes taking disciplinary action for instances of discrimination, such as verbal or physical harassment, offensive comments or jokes, or any other behavior that creates a hostile work environment. This will also help prevent discrimination from continuing and reinforce the importance of maintaining a safe and inclusive workplace.

Create an Inclusive & Engaging Workplace

Foster a supportive work environment by promoting teamwork, mutual respect, and understanding among employees. Creating a supportive work environment can help to prevent discrimination by promoting positive relationships and creating a sense of belonging for all employees. 

Steps to do this can include promoting teamwork and collaboration, encouraging mutual respect and understanding, and creating opportunities for employees to get to know each other and build relationships. This helps create an inclusive workplace culture and can also increase employee engagement and retention.

Implement a Pattern of Assessment

Continuously assess and evaluate the workplace culture so that any discrimination issues can be identified and addressed. This can include conducting regular surveys, focus groups, or other forms of data collection. 

Re-evaluating whether or not a policy can be harmful towards specific people is another building block towards stopping workplace discrimination. Although this may seem simple, carefully analyzing policies can prove to be difficult and will take time. 

Gathering information on the workplace culture will help identify areas where improvement is still needed. This will also ensure that the workplace remains inclusive and free from discrimination and that any issues are promptly addressed.

A Comprehensive Approach to Stopping Discrimination in the Workplace

Ending workplace discrimination involves work from the inside out. The workplace should and can be a place where people feel comfortable, successful, and innovative.

By taking a comprehensive approach to creating a safe and inclusive workplace, employers can not only prevent discrimination, but also promote positive relationships, increase job satisfaction and productivity, and create a positive and supportive work environment for all employees. 

Diversity and civility are a business leader’s responsibility to all employees. Discrimination has no place in the workplace, and by taking proactive steps to prevent it, employers can create a positive and supportive work environment for all employees and improve the overall success and productivity of their organization.

For more help on creating a healthy, inclusive workplace and adding diverse talent to your organization, reach out to today.