How to start to eliminate discrimination and bias in the workplace
Today’s employees expect their leaders to know how to overcome discrimination in the workplace. If your company can’t offer clear actions toward reducing bias and discrimination, you’ll likely lose your best employees to competitors that do.
Is your company trying to take steps toward a more inclusive and diverse workplace? If not, it’s important to start by immediately identifying implicit biases and understanding how to address discrimination in the workplace.
Targeted, intentional leadership and employee training not only helps foster an inclusive, safe work environment, but it also ensures retention of top candidates and existing talent.
In this article, we’ll look at how to start to fix discrimination in the workplace and the steps companies must take today to ensure they create the workforce of tomorrow. With the right approach, teams can learn:
- How to start to overcome discrimination in the workplace
- How to address discrimination at work
- Strategies to eliminate discrimination in the workplace
We’ll also share with you how two companies, Unboxed Training & Technology and The Nova Collective, have partnered to deliver world-class DE&I training content—so you can put the tips in this article into practice!
Disclaimer: Throughout the article we’ll use the words “fix”, “overcome”, and “eliminate” when talking about workplace discrimination and bias. However, we want to acknowledge that completely fixing, overcoming, and eliminating discrimination and bias is a tall order, even with all the right tools. When we say “fix discrimination” or “eliminate discrimination”, we’re describing a future aspirational state in which we’d all like to work and live—and will hopefully become a reality one day.
What is workplace discrimination?
Are you trying to figure out how to overcome discrimination in the workplace?
Before you can learn how to reduce discrimination in the workplace, it's essential to understand what it means.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines workplace discrimination as any unfair treatment based on:
● Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
● National Origin
● Age (age 40 or older)
● Genetic Information
If someone in your organization mistreats another person because of one of these factors, it’s considered discrimination.
Examples of workplace discrimination
Discrimination and bias in the workplace can manifest in many forms. And in order to address discrimination at work, you must spot it to rectify it immediately.
Here are some examples of workplace discrimination:
- Refusing to hire an applicant because they belong to a specific race or national origin
- Overlooking employees who are pregnant or older for promotions or other internal opportunities
- Allowing inappropriate comments about those with disabilities to go unchecked
- Implementing more difficult work requirements or not allowing reasonable accommodations for those employees of specific religions
Knowing what to look for, and being honest about its existence, is key to tackling discrimination in your organization. If you want to create a positive environment that treats employees fairly, you must be transparent.
Addressing workplace discrimination can be an uncomfortable process, but it’s necessary for the future of your workforce.
Now that we know what workpalce discrimination is, let’s dive into the steps to prevent discrimination in the first place.
How to start to overcome discrimination in the workplace
Once you’ve defined discrimination and bias in the workplace, the next step is to implement strategies to emliniate discrimination in the workplace.
Here are six tips on how to start to fix discrimination in the workplace.
1. Conduct a diversity audit
You can't fix problems you aren't aware exist. So, one of the first steps to prevent discrimination in the workplace involves conducting a diversity audit.
A diversity audit involves examining all of your company's policies, procedures, and practices that affect employees. Look for implicit or explicit bias and discrimination in areas such as:
● Hiring processes
● Promotion methods
● Performance reviews
● Decision-making procedures
● Salary decisions
It can be helpful to involve all stakeholders (internal and external) in the audit process. Involvement allows everyone to be part of the solution from the beginning.
2. Build a diverse workforce
Hiring intentionally is key to building a diverse, effective workforce. It’s not only about recruiting for diversity; it’s about creating a culture of inclusivity, where all employees feel free to be their true selves.
Without a culture of inclusivity , opportunity gaps in collaboration and efficiency will widen.
Your company should consider these ways to start to eliminate discrimination practically:
● Create an inclusive, welcoming culture
● Promote from within
● Foster relationships between employees
● Encourage growth opportunities and training
● Offer equal benefits
Once you have your hiring strategy in place, you can focus on your onboarding strategies.
3. Welcome new employees with enhanced onboarding and training
Many companies fail to address diversity and inclusion issues because they neglect to include them in their onboarding and training processes.
All new employees should be made aware of the company's values, inclusive work environment, and anti-discrimination policies. They should also be made responsible for adhering to them.
New hires should receive training on successfully integrating into the company and feel comfortable speaking up if they experience discrimination or bias.
4. Educate employees on inclusive behavior
Are you eager to teach your employees how to reduce discrimination in the workplace? Then educate them!
Ongoing education and training opportunities can effectively start to eliminate discrimination and bias in the workplace. Ensure everyone knows how to behave in the workplace and create a safe environment with intentional learning paths for all employees.
There are a few ways you can educate your team members:
● Host panel discussions led by experts
● Conduct webinars and in-house training
● Encourage employees to book training sessions for their departments
● Utilize workshops and lunch-and-learns
● Invest in custom-tailored learning content for your specific workforce
However, you can’t just talk the talk. Beyond training and education, corporate policies must reflect the organizational goals of being a diverse, inclusive company.
5. Ensure policies and procedures are inclusive
Many companies unintentionally make the mistake of adopting policies and procedures that discriminate. Performance reviews are a great example of this. Sometimes, reviews include questions crafted in ways that favor certain outcomes for specific genders, ethnicities, or age groups. Leadership potential questions, which can be pretty subjective, may be unintentionally evaluated in a discriminatory way.
The best way to avoid this is to conduct reviews and create policies that use clear language, and evaluate performance based on facts.
6. Lead by example
One of the final but most important steps to prevent discrimination is to lead by example. The only person who can ensure that your company is free of discrimination and bias is you.
As a leader, you have to drive cultural change from the top down. When your employees see that diversity and inclusion are important to you, it shows them that they should also be committed to these issues.
Creating core values for your company that include these initiatives means nothing if you don’t actually implement them. The only way to truly eliminate discrimination and bias in the workplace is to follow through on all the efforts and inclusivity initiatives you work hard to build out.
These six tips are the core steps to ensuring your company aligns strategically on all the ways to eliminate discrimination within your corporate culture. Now, here’s how to take action.
How to reduce discrimination in the workplace: diveristy and inclusion training
Ensuring that your organization takes the necessary steps to prevent discrimination and bias is no easy task.
However, by implementing clear solutions to stop discrimination, you can create an environment where current and future employees feel heard and respected. This includes:
● Completing a full diversity audit to determine where your company stands
● Taking steps to hire and retain a diverse workforce across departments
● Welcoming new hires with enhanced onboarding and training
● Ensuring that all company practices are inclusive
● Leading by example, even when it isn't convenient or might cost you money
Organizations that fail to address diversity and inclusion issues risk losing qualified employees, customers, and partners.
Still unsure how to start to overcome discrimination in the workplace?
The Nova Collective created an in-depth employee training program for companies looking to take steps to prevent discrimination. However, they didn’t have a great way to get into your hands. Until now!
By combining Nova’s program with Unboxed’s powerful learning platform, Spoke®, companies can invest in a diversity program that gets results. Spoke® enables managers and employees to engage in educational communication and learning through continuous development and data-driven reporting. If you’ve been wondering how to start to overcome discrimination in the workplace, this is your answer.
Want to learn more about how to reduce discrimination in the workplace through a diversity and inclusion training program? Schedule a demo of Spoke to discover how you can work to remove bias and discriminatory practices in your workforce.
Request a demo of Spoke learning platform to see how you can deliver powerful training to your employees.