Employment discrimination is defined as treating a person differently based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, age or any other genetic information. Employment discrimination also involves unfair treatment and harassment, as well as retaliation in the workplace and failure to provide accommodations to workers who need them.
Discrimination in the workplace is a serious offense, and any discrimination claim that is brought to Human Resources or workplace leaders should be handled with respect, care, and urgency. Unfortunately, many supervisors and leaders do not take the time to listen to concerns and discrimination allegations from their employees.
When leaders actually take the time to sit down with their employees about their concerns, they may not be truly listening with empathy and compassion. Many leaders become defensive and place the blame on the victims rather than the perpetrators. This is the reason employees do not raise concerns, they fear it will create larger problems. Corporate leaders need to prioritize their workers’ concerns.
Discrimination Claims in the Workplace
In recent months, corporate leaders and executives have released an influx of statements regarding their commitment to listening to their employees’ discrimination concerns. This comes after a new survey of approximately 6,000 American employees from Leadership IQ who stated that that they did not believe their leaders were listening to any of their concerns. Here are more results from the survey:
- The majority of employees felt that management did not listen to workplace discrimination claims without getting defensive.
- Most corporate executives believed that management listened to concerns from employees without getting defensive.
- Most women felt that management did not listen to their concerns.
- Only one in 10 African American employees felt that management listened to their concerns about discrimination.
- Four out of 10 Caucasian men felt that management always listened to concerns.
- Medium sized companies scored the lowest on how likely management listened to their concerns.
- A majority of workers felt that they could not express concerns without causing problems for themselves.
- Only 28 percent of employees stated that if they reported concerns about discrimination, top leaders would not have taken corrective actions.
What are Unconscious Biases?
Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that others form outside their own conscious awareness. These biases play a significant role in workplace discrimination and correlate to financial performance across workplaces worldwide.
Companies with ethnically diverse executive teams are more profitable and have less discrimination charges. It can be hard to let go of unconscious biases, but once that happens, a workplace will function in a more respectful and successful manner.
What Should Employers Do When Employees Express Concerns?
When an employee expresses discrimination concerns, it is important for leaders to listen to them and fully express recognition of their issues. Listening also means that leaders need to put themselves in the shoes of their employees and understand how the incident may have impacted them emotionally and physically.
Once an employee feels as though their boss is understanding their concerns, they will feel more comfortable talking to them about discrimination issues. A leader should never dismiss or rationalize a discrimination claim from an employee and should take every claim seriously.
How Can Management Become Better Leaders?
Leaders and those in management positions may not realize that they are not creating comfortable environments for their employees to express discrimination concerns. All leaders have things they need to work on, and there is always room for improvement. Here are some ways to become a better leader:
- Employers should thank employees for sharing their concerns, especially regarding workplace discrimination. It takes courage for an employee to come forward with a concern, and a leader should be grateful that an employee came to them with a problem.
- Employers should think of concerns as data that will only make their workplaces better. Encourage employees to come forward with any issues they have, both small and large.
- Work to create a more inclusive environment for all employees. This will produce important conversations and ensure that employees feel comfortable talking about their concerns.
- Employers should ask employees on how they can better their workspaces and discrimination policies. This will ensure that their concerns are valid and that they are being treated the same way that leadership would want to be treated.
- It is important to update anti-discrimination policies frequently to represent new laws and regulations. There are new laws that come out almost monthly, and it is important that all employees are represented and feel protected by the policies.
- Provide discrimination training to employees and ensure that they are aware that the workplace is a place of acceptance. Make sure that new and old employees know that there will be consequences for all harassment allegations.
- Document all complaints, no matter how minor to ensure that the company does not let the small things slide.
- Hire an employment attorney to help establish the best practices that a workplace should take and how to properly comply with the law. Educating employees on workplace harassment policies will ensure that complaints will be handled properly.
How Should Employers Address Discrimination Concerns and Improve Diversity?
To improve diversity and appropriately discuss discrimination claims, corporate needs to make changes and address ongoing problems. Here are some ways managers and leaders can make their companies better:
Start on the Corporate Level: Executive teams need to accept that they have problems and dedicate themselves to creating better work environments. Diversity and respect of others should be a priority and should be properly invested in. To help this process, management can devote financial resources to programs that help start conversations on discrimination. Talking about discrimination daily will help make conversations with employees more comfortable.
Track All Progress: Employers should make sure to measure progress and make strives to continue working hard on improving the workplace. An employer should create an action plan and stay on track.
Gather Feedback: To ensure that a company’s work environment is diverse and without biases, employers should talk to employees about company progress and how they are handling discrimination cases. This is a good opportunity to gather insights on how employees are doing and to have private and productive conversations. This will show that leadership is doing their best to improve the way that discrimination cases are handled and that they care about their employees’ concerns. It is important to tell employees how much they appreciate their time. This will validate that their opinions matter to the executives and leaders.
Why is it Important to Efficiently Handle Discrimination Claims?
There are many problems that still need to be overcome in the workplace, including the gender wage gap, lack of female representation in corporate leadership and discrimination.
Strides are being made to overcome these problems, but there is still a long way to go. Creating more diverse workforces will benefit employees and leaders and create successful workplaces. Discrimination in the workplace is a serious offense and should be handled efficiently and respectfully. Providing a safe environment for workers helps companies be more productive and allows employees to feel secure.
Bucks County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate on the Behalf of Discriminated Workers
Unfortunately, many workplace leaders do not take discrimination claims seriously. If you have been discriminated against, one of our Bucks County employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. will work hard to get you the justice you deserve. Our legal team understands how devastating a harassment situation can be, and we will do everything we can to get you proper compensation. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.