A diverse workplace adds value to your company and ensures a fresh mix of ideas, talent and energy. To recruit and retain employees from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, you need to implement workplace programs that help reduce racism, discrimination and unconscious bias before these behaviors lead to harsher forms of harassment.
Before you develop a program targeting discrimination, take a completely anonymous survey of your employees to determine the types of behavior to target. For example, a manager who subconsciously promotes men over women needs to learn how to eliminate bias, while a coworker who frequently shares off-color jokes needs to learn more about the actions that qualify as harassment under equal employment opportunity laws. After reviewing your survey answers, tailor the programs you implement to combat all forms of discrimination reported.
Equal Employment Opportunity Law Training
Workplaces that must abide by equal employment opportunity laws keep materials posted in community areas detailing protected classes, what constitutes discrimination and how to report problems. However, a poster doesn't take the place of a company meeting or dialogue about inappropriate behavior in the workplace. If your survey revealed that harassment of a protected class regularly occurs, make formal training about the employment laws mandatory. Institute a zero-tolerance workplace policy and enforce it the next time a worker engages in harassing behavior.
Affirmitative Action Programs
Affirmative action programs extend beyond the scope of equal employment opportunity laws and encourage workplace diversity from recruitment onward. Employers that must comply with affirmative action laws make efforts to find, hire and keep employees from protected classes by targeting specific areas with job listings as well as training and retention programs. Even if your business isn't required to follow affirmative action laws, you can implement certain best practices, such as identifying reasons particular groups are underrepresented.
Diversity programs attempt to teach workers how to fight unconscious bias and encourage respect for the cultures and beliefs of others. When implementing a diversity program, focus on teaching your workers to consider the contributions of an individual instead of physical factors. Host cultural awareness days that let employees share information about their culture so co-workers can understand more about each other.
- CDO Insights: Proven Strategies for Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Model EEO Programs Must Have An Effective Anti-Harassment Program
- San Antonio Business Journal: What Does Affirmative Action Mean to Your Business
- PACT Training: Designing Effective Workforce Diversity Training Programs
- Lean In: Creating a Level Playing Field
Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.