Posted by: healingtheworkplace | February 21, 2009

Harassment & Discrimination in the Workplace

Happy Saturday!

This past week I’ve been doing some training on harassment and discrimination in the workplace and reading about DIVERSITY.

Given that the workplace is a reflection of our society it is no wonder that there is so much disrespect, harassment, bullying and violence at in the workplace. Of course it doesn’t have to be this way.

The first step an organization and its leaders need to take is to understand some of the issues facing organizations today.

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is the DIVERSITY of the workforce.

This diversity can take many forms, for instance:

  • age (think generations)
  • culture
  • gender
  • race
  • individual perspectives
  • marital status
  • sexual orientation
  • physical and mental disabilites
  • other

Having a diverse workforce can be challenging but it can also have many rewards. Life would be SO boring if we were all the same. AND organizations that understand this tend to be more successful, more productive, etc. etc.

So how do we learn to work together? I think it begins with the basic value of RESPECT.

Respect is the glue that holds us together. Respect makes it possible for us to live and work together despite our differences.

There is a continuum of behaviors beginning with respect at one end…moving to harassment…and if the harassment is because of someones color, gender, age, etc. it is considered discrimination.

As we all know discrimination is against the law. At least in the Western World.

So, how to prevent harassment and discrimination?

Start by having policies and procedures in place so that employees know what is expected of them. Then provide them with some education or training on how to use these policies.

In order to get along we need to focus on the following:

  • understand our OWN values
  • understand what we bring to the workplace
  • understand how we communicate
  • learn to share part of who we are…open up a little
  • learn to communicate respectfully
  • take responsibility for creating a respectful workplace

The buck stops with management!

If there are problems at work that involve harassment and discrimination the organization has the responsibility to do something to stop this behavior. This is serious business and some organizations have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for allowing harassment and discrimination to continue even after employees have complained.

This means that management has to step up to the plate.

Management/leadership is responsible for creating healthy and respectful workplace cultures.

BUT, WE ALL HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY IN CREATING HEALTHY, RESPECTUL, WORKPLACE COMMUNITIES!

Bye for now! Enjoy your weekend!

Lesley

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