Just because no one in your business complains about discrimination, that does not mean that your workplace is free from it. As an employer, you might take people’s silence as a sign that all is well. Yet, it could mean you need to do more to help victims and witnesses speak up.
Why don’t people report discrimination?
Step out of the workplace situation for a moment. Think about the friends you have had over the years. Did any of them ever feel mistreated by someone but fail to say anything? Perhaps you saw children bullied at school. Did they always tell the teacher? Did you? Why not?
There are many reasons that people do not speak up:
- They do not classify the actions they see as wrong.
- They do not realize those actions are against the law.
- They do not believe they will be listened to.
- They are waiting for someone else to say something.
- They are afraid of retaliation.
- They are embarrassed.
What responsibility does an employer have to stop discrimination?
As an employer, you need to provide a safe working environment, free of discrimination or harassment of any type, on any grounds. It is not an easy task, as humans can be cruel to each other, and many have deep-seated prejudices. However, if it is found you knew about or should have known about incidents in your workplace, you could find yourself at the wrong end of a lawsuit due to an employee’s behavior.
Creating proper reporting channels is vital to ensuring that people feel free to let you know if they or anyone else is being discriminated against or harassed. Talking about your policies ensures that everyone knows you take it seriously. It could save you a lawsuit and make for a better working environment for you and your staff.