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Preventing discrimination in the workplace

More than half of employers in the UK do not have a zero tolerance to discrimination within the workplace e.g. disciplining or dismissing managers that discriminate. This blog post will explore ways that businesses can reduce workplace discrimination to create a fair and equal environment for all.

What is discrimination?

There are many forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on:

· Age

· Disability

· Sexual Orientation

· Status as a Parent

· Religious Discrimination

· National Origin

· Pregnancy

· Sexual Harassment

· Race and Sex

· Employees who file complaints in the workplace

Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic, such as sex or race. For example, someone is not offered a promotion because they're a woman and the job goes to a less qualified man.

Indirect discrimination occurs when there are rules or arrangements that apply to a group of employees that do not apply to another set of employees – for example, if there are rules that are unfair to workers under 18 compared with those over 18.

What an employer can do to prevent discrimination

You can help prevent discrimination in the workplace by steps including:

1. Have written policies and sanctions on office discrimination

Companies should have their own specific sets of anti-discrimination policies included in the employee handbook. Guidelines should consist of information on protocols regarding where to file complaints and investigation procedures.

2. Educate employees on anti-discrimination policies

Employers should actively encourage anti-discrimination training sessions or online courses.

The training should enlighten employees about the specific examples of discrimination in the office because sometimes there can be a thin line between people’s definitions of discrimination. It should also educate them on how and where to file a complaint if they become victims of discrimination or harassment.

3. Maintain professionalism in the workplace

Keeping a professional work environment can help prevent inappropriate behaviour in the office. In a professional setting, employees maintain politeness, respect, maturity, and competency. Unprofessional conduct in the workplace can precursor various discrimination acts because of the lack of boundaries. Professionalism keeps the workplace in order, as well as the behaviour of employees towards each other.

4. Actively investigate and give sanctions on incidents of discrimination

When employees are aware of the consequences of any acts of discrimination, they will actively stop any untoward behaviour. To make employees see that the company is serious about its anti-discrimination advocacy, they should actively pursue investigations on complaints filed and apply appropriate penalties.

In line with this, the company should also have clear and strict guidelines regarding the investigation procedures and identify the implementing body. The company should conduct internal investigations fairly, complete with solid evidence to reach a fully informed decision about the case. Most importantly, the investigation should be done discreetly and with complete confidentiality.

This blog post has suggested steps that businesses can take to minimise discrimination. Taking these steps may help promote a fair workplace for all. This may result in improved employee performance and wellbeing, as well as increase the reputation of a company.

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