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Can accountability end discrimination the federal workplace?

Workplaces across California are good at making it known when they do well in the areas of reducing discrimination and promoting equality. Large employers especially often sing their own praises when the number of women or people of color in high-level positions reaches a new high. While it is important to recognize the accomplishments that help make a workplace more equal, it is important that we not let those achievements overshadow the plights of people who continue to face discrimination as employees.

The federal government employs millions of people across the country, including many in California. Although the government has shown clear signs of improvement in the way of equality, there is still room to grow. But how? What is the best approach to ensuring the workplace is safe for all employees?

A recent article in The Washington Post considers exactly these questions, and the answer may lie with accountability, reinforcement and quick action.

First, although most large employers are required to have a harassment policy in place, it is important that the policy be clear and that all managers understand the rules and how to enforce them. New employees should also undergo harassment and discrimination training.

Next, creating an environment that encourages people who experience or witness harassment or discrimination to speak up is vital. If the behavior is not reported, it can be difficult to stop it. This means that managers must be vigilant about the environment in their workplace, always keeping an eye out for possible problems.

If a problem does arise, quick action to address it is imperative. It should be clear that harassment and discrimination are not tolerated. It may even be wise to hold a meeting to ensure staff members understand what constitutes harassment.

Sometimes, a situation does end with action by a manager or supervisor. If it becomes a bigger problem, the workplace should have a formal investigation process to follow and discipline handed down as necessary.

Of course, these ideas do not apply only to the federal government. Any workplace in California could create a better work environment by establishing clear rules and enforcing them. In fact, doing so could go a long way toward ensuring all employees feel safe at work.

Source: The Washington Post, "Dealing with discrimination in the federal workplace," Tom Fox, April 6, 2015

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