As an employer, preventing discrimination and harassment in your workplace is a big priority, not only due to a moral obligation, but a legal obligation as an employer as well. Claims of either of these can cost your company thousands of dollars, drive away great employees, and damage your reputation. Here are some important things every employer should do to minimize the risk of harassment and discrimination:
Have a Policy in Place
Having a policy against discrimination and harassment is not only the best way to make sure it doesn’t happen, it’s required by law. Even if you are exempt from the federal discrimination laws, as companies with under 15 employees usually are, it is still a good idea to have a policy in place. Writing a policy and placing it in your employee handbook is not enough. Make sure your employees understand the policy and what actions they should take if they witness or experience discrimination or harassment. This can be done with an annual discrimination and harassment training program.
Certain things need to be included in a anti-harassment policy. The EEOC suggests having an outline of prohibited behavior, a promise to protect employees from retaliation who make complaints or help investigate complaints, a complaint process that provides a quick and impartial investigation, a description of the complaint process, assurance to protect anonymity, and a promise to take action when harassment has occurred. Helpside can assist clients with their harassment and discrimination policies and also offers a free online training course you can share with your employees.
Make Equality Part of Your Culture
Your company culture should reflect your focus on equality. Talk about equality often. Make it clear where your values are. When you start to behave in a way that reflects your culture and policy, others will follow. It will also make it extremely hard for employees to harass others and get away with it, if you have a company culture that is very against harassment.
Including diversity in your company culture can help move against discrimination. Go out of your way to include minority groups opinions in meetings. Create teams that are diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, background, and education. This will not only demonstrate the company’s commitment to diversity and stance against discrimination, but also creates the best opportunity for creative solutions.
Taking these steps will get your organization on track to limit the liability of harassment and discrimination.