Organizations and businesses recognize the value of having a culture of equality and diversity in the workplace, as the benefits go beyond just the legal obligations.
Having a diverse workforce and inclusive culture allows organizations to offer a wider range of ideas, skills, and experience. As such, promoting equality and diversity in the workplace is one of the top goals of any employer, recruitment consultant, or HR professional.
A lot of times, people aren’t even aware when their comments or actions can already be considered discriminatory. Most employers would even claim that they practice a culture of equality and inclusivity in their company. So, it’s important to look at all the vital aspects of equality to ensure that proper measures are taken to prevent discrimination.
What Does Workplace Equality and Diversity Mean?
Equality in the workplace means that all employees have access to equal opportunities and peripherals regardless of age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or class.
Diversity means that business and companies welcome people from various backgrounds. It’s about how an organization reflects these attitudes in their workplace policies and hiring process.
It’s a Conscious and Continuous Effort for All Involved
Promoting a culture of diversity and equality is a conscious effort for employers. We all know that each person has his or her own set of subjective biases based on the norms, culture, and traditions they experienced while growing up. As a result, there’s a tendency for people to make quick judgments about others whether subconsciously or unconsciously.
According to a study, it takes a few seconds to judge people based on appearance alone. Along with that, verbal and non-verbal cues are filtered through one’s existing values and belief system.
These expectations, belief systems, and values have enormous implications in terms of personal and societal growth, especially for employers, managers, and HR professionals.
Regardless of how aware you think you are of the principles behind equality and diversity, you need to periodically examine your company policies and culture to be sure that you’re on the right track.
To date, workplace equality and diversity issues remain sensitive topics. Yes, they are being addressed. But, as a recruitment consultant, HR professional, manager, or supervisor, you need to make a constant and conscious effort to ensure that your organization promotes a culture of equality and diversity.
Sex and Gender Discrimination
Sex and gender discrimination refers to the unfair or unjust treatment of a person in the workplace just because of their sex, gender, or sexual orientation. A person is either passed off for a promotion, get fired, not hired, or not receive the same benefits as others due to their sex or gender preference.
While some countries or cities have laws protecting employees from sex and gender discrimination, it remains one of the most common issues in the workplace. Over the past several decades, women have made significant progress in terms of labor force participation, but they still represent less than 50% of leaders in various industries.
Meanwhile, 25% of LGBT employees report having experienced discrimination at work in the last five years because of their gender preference or sexual orientation. Discrimination is still rampant for LGBT employees that more than 75% of transgender employees consciously take steps to avoid mistreatment.
To promote sex and gender equality in your organization, establish policies that ensure male, female, and LGBT employees are guaranteed equal compensation for performing the same work. Policies should also be in place to prevent and forbid any form of sexual harassment.
Reevaluate policies in recruitment, hiring, training, and promotions to ensure that all employees have equal opportunities regardless of their sex or gender identity.
There are 195 countries in the world, but only 24% of these have laws that specifically prohibit discrimination or guarantee equal treatment by disability and only 18% constitutionally protect the right to work of persons with disabilities. The United States of America is one of these countries.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), disability discrimination occurs when an employer or organization treats a qualified individual with a disability unfavorably because he or she has a disability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act “forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, and any other term or condition of employment.
Despite the laws protecting persons with disabilities, there were over 28,000 disability discrimination charges filed with the EOCC in 2016. These claims cost companies millions in dollars in legal fees and settlement payments, which is why it must be avoided at all costs.
Businesses and organizations need to create and improve on their reasonable accommodation policies for employees with disabilities. Proper training and guidance should also be provided for HR professionals and managers so that they can recognize a valid request for accommodation.
Racial and Religious Discrimination
Racial discrimination is when a person is treated differently because of their actual or perceived race, skin color, native language, ethnic or national origin, and nationality. Meanwhile, religious discrimination is when individuals are treated differently because of their religious beliefs and practices.
Many teachers, for instance, find themselves discriminated against simply because they’re non-native English speakers. Having a mother tongue other than English doesn’t mean that they aren’t exceptionally fluent in English. In fact, some non-native English speakers are even more qualified to teach English than native speakers, simply because they were better educated and they have a more solid grasp of the language.
In the UK, the Equality Act of 2010 protects employees from racial and religious discrimination including direct and indirect discrimination, victimization, harassment, discrimination by association, failure to accommodate, and more. Despite this, a recent study reveals that more than half of UK employees have witnessed racial discrimination, and only one in five of them reported it to HR for fear of possible consequences.
Promoting an open and inclusive culture in the workplace is necessary for organizations to have a diverse workforce. Implement policies that ensure the protection of employees who witness and report incidences of racial and religious discrimination.
Help employees maintain anonymity to feel more confident about reporting such instances. Educate ALL your employees about equality and diversity in the workplace so that they understand how important it is for the growth of the organization.
We may have come a long way in spreading awareness about the various issues in workplace discrimination. But clearly, there’s still a long road ahead when it comes to promoting equality and diversity in the workplace. Always keep in mind that accomplishments have no sex, gender, color, race, or religion.