To read the news lately, you’d think this is truly a golden age for American working men and women. The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest in almost half a century. Earnings for American corporate employers are growing at the highest rate in years. One of the nation’s leading retailers announced a new, higher minimum wage. Yes, all of this seems to look like good news for American workers. However …
For all the advancements in the life of working men and women since the days of sweatshops and child labor, there is still much to be done to promote justice in the workplace. Workers still must contend with discrimination, sexual harassment, and misconduct. Employers can begin exhibiting a deeper commitment to diversity and inclusion by taking these five steps to reflect a commitment to workplace justice:
1. Establish and enforce written policies and procedures against workplace harassment and abuse.
If employees don’t have access to written workplace policies and procedures, how will they know what the expectations are? Be direct and clear about the things your workplace expects and what it will not tolerate, as well as what will be done if something unacceptable does occur.
2. Prioritize a policy that encourages and rewards diversity and inclusion.
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Reward diversity and inclusion with representation, and give these representatives a meaningful voice in the workplace. Diversity isn’t always a racial issue – there are people of all shapes, sizes, abilities, orientations, and backgrounds whose needs should be addressed and concerns heard.
3. Conduct continual training on implicit bias.
Learned stereotypes are deeply ingrained in people, influencing behavior in ways many don’t even recognize. It’s essential that managers be aware of implicit bias, and there are many online resources that offer helpful training courses (one free example is on the Skillsoft website). Employers cannot drop the ball on implicit bias training, and these lessons should be integrated into daily work routines.
4. Have a hotline in place.
Create a telephone hotline that workers can use to report any unethical or questionable conduct they experience or witness. Hotlines are helpful for individuals who may be embarrassed or afraid to talk about what has happened to them. This can be a great first step in opening up lines of communication about workplace injustices.
5. Institute educational forums.
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Employers should conduct periodic educational forums to continue educating employees on the importance of tolerance. Open and honest discussions can establish a dialogue for individuals to air their concerns and/or grievances on such issues as sexual harassment, diversity, inclusion, and intolerance in general.
The workplace should be a safe place for all, not just some. The steps described above are just a beginning – but they are an important start to forming an office environment that is just and tolerant for all workers. See today (and every day) as an opportunity to instill these concepts into your workplace.