STOP Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace NOW!

STOP Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace NOW!

Companies need senior management and HR to lead the way to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment. Discrimination quickly breeds a hostile work environment. Productivity dramatically drops, and employees make a mass exodus. Companies could take years to rebuild their reputation and recoup the monetary losses.

It is the responsibility of HR professionals and business leaders to be role models. They also must create a safe, supportive, and productive work environment. They set the tone. They’re responsible for getting the message out loud and clear: The organization will not tolerate harassment of any type. Besides, it’s against federal and state laws.

It is paramount that all employees know how to recognize discrimination and harassment. Employees need to understand the victim’s rights and how to handle incidents of discrimination. As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports approximately 73,000 discrimination issues and 11,000 sexual harassment complaints every year. More cases occur within corporate America and get addressed internally. The EEOC believes that 94% of employees don’t report workplace discrimination. Each case creates a hostile workplace, resulting in loss of productivity and employee retention. And not to mention damages the organization’s reputation.

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination is the unfair treatment of an employee based upon their protected class or category rather than individual merit. Protected classes and categories include:

Discrimination can be verbal, non-verbal, physical, deliberate, or unintended. It can take place as a one-time occurrence or as an ongoing treatment.

Several workplace discrimination laws the EEOC enforces include:

What are the Types of Workplace Discrimination?

Discrimination can take many different forms, and all of them are illegal in the workplace. Employers must avoid implementing policies and practices that unfairly harm individuals based on their protected status. This includes:

It’s against the law to make any employment decisions based on these protected classes or categories. Some employment discrimination examples include:

What is Harassment?

It is also considered discrimination to require employees to endure harassment on the job. The EEOC defines harassment as unwelcome conduct based on a person’s protected status and alters the victim’s employment conditions. It can range from unwelcome comments to physical assault. Whether the victim submits to or rejects the conduct, it is still considered harassment.

Harassment isn’t allowed whether it comes from supervisors, co-workers, or even non-employees. Even if the harassment comes from a customer or vendor, the employer has a duty to protect their employees from it.

It doesn’t matter if the offensive conduct is intentional or not. If the person on the receiving end feels harassed, it’s harassment. Employees who witness offensive behavior can also be victims.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment includes a range of behaviors from: unwelcome flirtation to forced sexual activity. Harassment doesn’t have to be of a sexual nature. It can include offensive generalizations, comments, or jokes about a person’s sex or gender.

What are the Different Types of Harassment?

There are three basic types of harassment:

Quid Pro Quo: This is a Latin term meaning “something for something.” It occurs when people in power demand favors for employment, promotion, or pay increases. Quid pro quo claims usually only require one event to be considered sexual harassment. Quid pro quo is unlawful discrimination even if the employee consents to the request.

Hostile work environment: Unlike quid pro quo, anyone can create a hostile work environment, including customers, management, or employees. This type of harassment is pattern based. It doesn’t matter if the person creating the uncomfortable environment didn’t intend to be offensive. If a reasonable person among the victim’s onlookers would feel harassed, it’s harassment.

Online Harassment: This type of harassment follows the same pattern as hostile work environment harassment. Regardless of the medium, unwelcome sexually oriented messages are considered sexual harassment.

How to Say NO to Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination can occur at any time or anywhere in an organization. Harassers can be at any pay grade or at any level on the organizational chart. Sadly, harassment happens far more often than what gets reported to HR and management.

For each harassed employee, employers stand to lose an estimated $22,500 in productivity, on top of the costs of employee turnover, legal fees, and reputational harm.

It’s a given that companies have compliance training in place. But it can be utilized as a tool for so much more. Proper anti-harassment training can create a more inclusive, safe, and productive workplace.

Internal harassment issues and lawsuits will harm the workplace and the organization’s reputation outside the company. Training can make all the difference between a healthy corporate culture where all employees feel free to be their authentic selves or a toxic one where they’ll feel afraid, alone, and don’t know what’s coming next from their harasser.

With proper training along with firm policies in place, a corporate culture of respect and civility makes workplace harassment nonexistent. Here are several ways how to say NO to workplace discrimination:

Share corporate anti-harassment policies. Company leaders and HR professionals must not only act as role models but make policies fully known throughout the organization. Companies should have an employee handbook or code of conduct. Leaders must communicate the policies to the staff clearly and concisely. Incorporating this communication into other compliance training is preferable to just distributing a written manual. Topics should be updated regularly to reflect how to report incidents of discrimination, new laws, and practices. For example, a company should be clear on its stance on things like changes in marijuana laws and LGBTQ discrimination.

Promote company core values. A core value of integrity can motivate compliant employee behavior. If leadership lives this value and has strong moral principles, employees are more likely to follow suit. They’ll see the value in compliance and anti-harassment training aligning with creating a safe and supportive work environment and company culture.

Encourage an atmosphere of civility. Training employees in workplace civility is a valuable tool in building a corporate culture of respect. Behaviors, both good and bad, trickle down through an organization. Company leaders and HR professionals must set an example by modeling civil behavior. When upper management shows respect to everyone of all backgrounds and lived experiences, actively listens, and refrains from playing favorites, it goes a long way in telling employees, “This is how we do things here.” Training in civility in the workplace can help managers and employees learn better ways to show common courtesy through their speech and behavior.

Remove stigma. Talk about harassment openly before and after training. Reference items in the news that make it relevant.

Understand unconscious bias. A great deal of harassment behavior stems from unconscious bias. Being aware of how unconscious bias about things like gender, skin color, or age influences actions. Awareness can be the first step toward a more harmonious workplace. Training helps employees understand and confront those unconscious biases. This type of training can also help with prevention of hiring biases.

Explain organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. For some, working on unconscious biases is enough. But some employees might not understand why or how an organization benefits from people of different racial, religious, or ethnic backgrounds. Management needs to explain the value and demonstrate commitment in their actions. Offering training courses on diversity can help illustrate the company’s dedication to diversity.

Encourage workplace empathy. Social awareness through workplace empathy builds trust and establishes respect amongst employees at all levels. It can ward off disrespectful conduct and harassment. Soft skill training in empathy is beneficial.

Be aware. Human resources professionals and managers must be observant. And so must employees. If employees know the behavioral cues to watch out for, they can stop the harassment before it becomes an even bigger issue. Training all employees on the warning signs, along with bystander training, can make a difference. Also, having anonymous reporting hotlines available to employees will help.

Provide ongoing reinforcement training. To foster compliance year-round, employees need to pay attention to their behavior and their actions. Training reinforcement can help support compliance. Offer self-directed learning so employees can revisit training courses as needed. Email quizzes to reinforce learning points.

Evaluate workplace culture regularly. Companies should develop metrics to assess the effectiveness of their anti-harassment efforts. Policies may need to be adjusted sometimes, for example, factoring in remote employees.

HSI Can Help!

Ready to create a harassment-free workplace? HSI offers an in-depth, all-encompassing online compliance and an anti-harassment employee training program for all audiences. The training bundle pairs learnings on key workplace regulations, such as FMLA, FLSA, and ADA, with comprehensive anti-harassment prevention training. Whether for an HR professional ensuring policies are within compliance, a business leader concerned about potential litigation, or an employee who believes their rights have been violated, this bundle has what everyone needs.

Compliance training for managers often looks different from that needed by employees on the front line. Both will have their own roles and responsibilities regarding compliance topics, so course material is different.

We recommend not only teaching about anti-harassment but learning the “why” behind it. When employees understand why harassment happens and how to identify it, organizations have a higher chance of preventing it. Offer courses on understanding offenders, targets, warning signs, bystander training, and ways to build a healthy culture.

Here’s just some of the wide variety of HSI’s online up-to-date compliance and anti-harassment training courses:

Many clients want to go beyond the bare minimum and the “check the box” approach. They want employees to be safe. Safe from harassment and discrimination. Safe from workplace bullying and violence. They want employees to feel safe so they can be creative and innovative. Our clients go beyond compliance to a well-rounded employee development program. They open up the entire library so employees can access training any time. They can rewatch required courses and search for the topics they are personally interested in.

Our HSI LMS is mobile-first learner-first. Employees can access it any time and at their own pace. HR professionals can build a workplace culture of trust and continuous learning, access and track training, and protect your company’s brand and reputation. Consistent anti-harassment training can have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.

For more information on the best way HSI can help, request a free trial of our LMS.


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