Many workplaces have become increasingly diverse due to rapid globalisation. As a result, many companies have multicultural workforces composed of individuals with differing beliefs, values, traditions, and the like. Hence, the ideal business leader should know how to practise equal opportunity and workplace diversity. A large chunk of this process is learning how to identify, prevent, and address cultural discrimination in the workplace.
Cultural Discrimination and Why It Matters
Discrimination comes in many forms, but broadly it can be defined as the unjust treatment of a particular person or group based on personal circumstances or characteristics. Discrimination across many different factors: a person’s age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, or physical impairments can arise. Cultural discriminating refers more specifically to unjust treatment based on cultural background. It could include a person’s race, language, accent, cultural beliefs, and social behaviours.
Left unaddressed, cultural discrimination in the workplace can lead to misunderstandings and conflict between employees. It hinders the development of camaraderie, which could prevent team members from collaborating effectively. Additionally, companies that fail to prevent or address cases of cultural discrimination may face lawsuits, experience lower retention rates, and tarnish their reputations. Fortunately, effective measures can easily be put in place to prevent these problems from arising.
To learn more, below are four simple ways to avoid and address cultural discrimination in the workplace:
Create a Clear and Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Policy
Every company should have an employee handbook detailing the rules and regulations of their organisation. This way, employees understand their rights and responsibilities from the moment they begin working at the company. Your handbook should include a section outlining your company’s policies and protocols on workplace discrimination. This policy should be clear and concise so employees can easily understand its contents. It should also be comprehensive in its scope to ensure that all bases are covered.
A well-written policy explicitly states that your company will not tolerate any form of discrimination. It includes a list of circumstances where the company’s policy protections are to be applied, such as off-site and company-sponsored occasions. Your policy should highlight the employee’s right to report discriminatory acts without fear of reprisal and retaliation. It should also walk employees through the process of filing a complaint and the company’s investigation procedures. Lastly, it should state any disciplinary actions—such as sanctions or termination—that the company will take depending on the severity of a discrimination case.
Be sure to disseminate your policy once finalised. New employees should receive it during onboarding, while existing employees should be informed of it as necessary. It is best to have everyone sign a written acknowledgement that they understand the policy. It will help ensure that they read it carefully, that it is understood and taken seriously. Be sure to regularly review and modify your policies as needed, especially when changes to anti-discrimination laws.
Educate Employees through Anti-Discrimination Training Programs
All employees should put in effort to prevent cultural discrimination in their workplace. Be sure to frequently educate them to identify, respond to, and avoid unjust treatment. Whether or not your local laws require it, you should hold regular anti-discrimination training programs led by a knowledgeable HR professional or employment counsel.
Training should be mandatory for all employees, regardless of their position in the company. It’s particularly important to set up special training for managers and supervisors, as they’re usually the first to receive complaints from their direct reports.
Ensure That Company Processes Are Free of Potential Biases
Certain company processes—such as the hiring, promotion, and termination of employees—are highly susceptible to being biased or discriminatory. For example, candidate screenings could have criteria that exclude people whose primary language isn’t English. Another example is a Jewish employee losing their job for not being able to work on Saturdays, which are Sabbath days for them. Hence, leaders should exercise due diligence by regularly reviewing their company processes in order to eliminate any unjust practices.
Address Discrimination Cases Quickly, Fairly, and Consistently
Of course, even if you set the proper preventative measures, cultural discrimination can still occur within the workplace. Hence, it’s crucial that your company implements an efficient, thorough, and fair investigation process for all cases of unjust treatment.
Even if your organisation isn’t under the threat of a potential lawsuit, you should immediately address any problems that arise. Failing to do so may negatively impact the relationship between your company and its employees, as they’re likely to feel neglected and betrayed. Be sure to treat each reported case with the same level of professionalism and empathy so employees know they can trust the organisation and its processes.
Remember, people work best in an environment founded on trust, inclusivity, and mutual respect. As a company leader, you have the power to ensure that no one is unfairly treated for being who they are. By following the tips above, you can create a safe space that encourages productivity and teamwork.
To know more about championing and advocating cultural diversity in the workplace, Reach out to Carrie Benedet here.