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Creating a Discrimination-Free Workplace

Creating a discrimination-free workplace means more than just avoiding harassment and wrongful termination lawsuits. Employees who feel valued and judged based on their contributions work more productively. Additionally, workers who feel that they have a safe and established way to communicate with superiors about problems with coworkers will help root out unethical or illegal behavior before it becomes part of an employer’s corporate culture or a legal liability.

Here are some tips for creating a happy, productive, discrimination-free work environment for all of your employees:

  • Work with the highest levels of management to draft and distribute a memorandum affirming your company’s commitment to non-discriminatory treatment of all employees, job applicants, customers, clients, vendors and suppliers.
  • Create a system for employees to air their grievances. Make it possible for employees having difficulty with a particular supervisor — whether as a consequence of the supervisor’s harassing behavior or of the employee’s poor workplace performance — to speak to a different manager without negative consequences.
  • Have a written workplace policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment. Include information about the system you developed for employees to voice their grievances. As a good example, here’s the policy used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Host anti-discrimination, pro-diversity trainings for your managers and supervisors as well as your employees. Managers and supervisors may benefit from separate training that pays additional attention to identifying instances of discrimination and harassment and intervening once discriminatory behavior has been identified.

Everyone benefits from a discrimination-free work environment, not just potential victims of harassment or discrimination. As an employer or manager, you will get higher-quality work, honest participation, and increased productivity from workers who feel safe and able to talk about problems without risk of retaliation.

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