Unpacking Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination and harassment are issues that plague workplaces across all industries. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are things employers can do to ensure their employees feel safe, respected and protected. In this blog post, we’ll unpack some of the ways discrimination and harassment impact the workplace, as well as how employers can prevent these problems or reduce their effects. 

The Impact of Harassment and Discrimination on Victims

Harassment and discrimination can have a devastating impact on an employee’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. They can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, isolation—and in extreme cases, even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

When the work environment has a negative effect on an employee’s well-being, it can reduce morale and lower productivity levels. Additionally, victims of discrimination or harassment may be more likely to take sick days or find a new place to work. Either situation can cost employers money in the form of lost productivity, higher health care costs and/or costly recruitment fees. 

The Impact of Harassment and Discrimination on Coworkers

It’s important to remember that harassment and discrimination don’t just affect those targeted by inappropriate and potentially unlawful conduct. If observed by others in the workplace, it can make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 

This can lead to decreased productivity levels among the bystanders due to increased stress levels and/or lack of trust. Think about it: if you saw your boss denying your coworker a promotion because of their race, you might wonder when you’ll be the next victim of discriminatory treatment. In some cases, it might persuade you to find another place to work.

Creating a Safe Workplace Environment 

Employers should do everything they can to create a safe working environment for all employees. This might include looking into having training sessions about anti-discrimination policies and implementing anonymous complaint systems for employees who want to report an incident without fear of retribution. Not only is taking takes to create a safe working environment the right thing to do, but it can help avoid legal liability for the employer and improve its bottom line.

It’s also important for employers to make sure any complaints are addressed quickly and appropriately so that everyone feels comfortable speaking up. Finally, employers should regularly monitor their workplace policies and procedures to ensure they remain up-to-date with changing laws and regulations. 

Summing It Up

Discrimination and harassment are serious issues that can affect all workers, including the lowering of overall workplace productivity. Employers can take steps to ensure their workplaces remain safe and everyone feels respected and protected from harm. They can do this by:

  • Establishing strong anti-discrimination policies
  • Providing regular training sessions about those policies
  • Implementing appropriate complaint systems (that can protect the identity of the person making the complaint if necessary)
  • Addressing any complaints quickly and fairly
  • Staying current with changes in employment laws and regulations.

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