There are plenty of pitfalls anyone involved in any business should avoid. Discrimination in the workplace is one such pitfall. Certain characteristics such as race, sex (and related matters such as orientation, identity, and pregnancy), age, religion, disability, and color are illegal to discriminate against. Even the appearance of discrimination can be enough to cause trouble. How can you avoid it?
Create Clear Policies
Everyone should be on the same page regarding avoiding workplace discrimination. One of the best ways to do that is to create clear policies that define rules and procedures surrounding workplace discrimination.
Employees must clearly understand that harassment and discriminatory behavior is completely unacceptable. Written policies are the best way to communicate that to employees since they aren’t as likely to be familiar with workplace antidiscrimination laws.
Be Careful What You Ask Employees
Concerns about discrimination can start even before your employees are working for you. From the time you begin an interview until whenever they leave your company, you must be careful about what you ask your employees. Asking about sexual orientation or marital status may be seen as discriminatory.
The same can be said for questions about age, children, and race. As a general rule, it’s best to keep conversations professional and stay away from personal matters when talking to employees so you can avoid even the appearance of discrimination.
Avoid Playing Favorites
It’s perfectly normal to have people on your team that you prefer to work with over others. That said, avoid playing favorites if you want to avoid the appearance of discrimination in the workplace. Make an effort to treat all your employees equally. Set up a system that allows you to track how you divide responsibilities amongst your team to keep things as even as possible. The same goes for any reward system you implement. Ideally, rewards should be merit-based, which may mean that some employees are rewarded more than others. That said, you can still build equality into your reward system by showing each employee appreciation for the work they do.
When it comes to workplace discrimination, it’s often better to be safe than sorry. Even the appearance of discrimination in the workplace should be avoided as much as possible by anyone in any sort of business leadership position. Remember, you can always consult with your business’s HR department for guidance to ensure that your behavior is beyond reproach regarding the appearance of discrimination in the workplace.
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