Discrimination is a word that conjures up fear, anger, stress, and a whole host of negative emotions. And complaints of discrimination can severely damage businesses.
When faced with such a strongly negative situation, many managers’ first reaction is often avoidance or denial: “He couldn’t possibly have done that!” or “If we wait a few days, the whole incident will blow over.” Ironically, these reactions can make the situation even worse.
Whether the alleged discrimination has happened or not, whether you think the incident warrants a complaint or not, whether you think it was a one-time mistake, or whatever other “whethers” you can think of, when an incident is reported, it usually best to deal with it promptly.
Beyond the obvious moral objections to discrimination, many countries provide strong legal protection for employees who are discriminated against, and organizations ignoring or taking insufficient notice of this protection face severe sanctions.
Just as important, however, discrimination in the workplace creates an unfair and unpleasant working environment. By ignoring it, you risk undermining the effectiveness of your team and losing good team members: After all, who wants to work in an environment where arbitrary discrimination and unfairness are tolerated?
In order to deal effectively with workplace discrimination, it’s important to understand exactly what it means. Workplace discrimination is defined differently in each country and jurisdiction, but the main principles are similar:
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