Take positive steps against discrimination in the workplace

As featured in the June 2016 edition of Northern Insight magazine.

A workplace should be a safe and happy working environment filled with employees who work as part of a team and respect each other.  An environment like this has been proven to increase productivity amongst employees which in turn increases your company’s profits.

However discrimination in the workplace can create a negative and hurtful atmosphere whether it’s one individual being targeted or a group of people.  And like people, discrimination can come in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Therefore, it’s important for employers to spot the signs at the earliest stage possible.

Sometimes what may seem like harmless office jokes may actually be bullying or belittling.  Tensions between colleagues may be one of the first signs bullying is taking place.  A member of staff may keep their head down and avoid certain members of staff out of fear.

The BBC found that there were 14,000 claims of gender discrimination in employment tribunal cases in 2013/2014.  This was followed by 5,000 claims for disability, 3,000 claims for race and 2,000 claims for age.

The Equality Act, which was introduced in 2010, established “protected characteristics” making it illegal to discriminate anyone because of their age, being transsexual, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or having a child, having a disability, their race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin), their religious views, beliefs or lack of, their sex or their sexual orientation.

It’s important for employers to reinforce this Act and regularly hold mandatory seminars about discrimination in the workplace to ensure all employees understand inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated.  Establish an open door or after hours policy where those who are being targeted have the opportunity to speak with an employer in private.

If an employer suspects discrimination or bullying is taking place, they must take serious action and investigate any complaints.  Employers must be impartial in these situations which may mean hiring someone from the outside to investigate the situation thoroughly.

So if you need more information about preventing discrimination in the workplace, get in touch with Howe Consultancy on 07921 256 981 or email us at info@howeconsultancy.co.uk.

Until next time,

Joanne