Harassment & Discrimination are behavioral traits that are uncalled for, unwanted, unreasonable and offensive to the sufferer, which results in creation of hostile, humiliating and intimidating work environment for that person.
Harassment & Discrimination can be of varied types and could principally be based on:
- Gender/Sex orientation.
- Race, caste, creed, nationality or skin color.
- Disability, talent & Age etc.,
*The list is not exhaustive.
Prevention is always better than cure. It is important for every company to be committed to provide a work environment, which is devoid of discrimination and harassment, especially as such behavior by employees can have a devastating effect on the overall productivity as well as on the work environment. Needless to mention, discrimination and harassment towards anyone are acts against humanity and should be discouraged and combatted by one and all. For any organization to prohibit discrimination and harassment at work, they have to devise a policy that is strong enough to get the better of the hostile environment that might be created.
The U.S. Department of Labor is doing its bit to prohibit and prevent cases of discrimination and harassment at workplace by making it mandatory for employers to post labor law compliance posters at the workplace. States such as California have been proactive in following this rule, especially as the employers understand that these California employment posters include State as well as Federal mandatory posting requirements in one poster. Such steps by the department have managed to enlighten employees with their rights to a desirable extent.
Any Company’s policy against discrimination and harassment is as good as the way it is preached and practiced. The ground rule for any organization is to create awareness about the policy that is being followed to prevent/troubleshoot the discrimination and harassment at workplace. All staff of the company has a key responsibility in creating and maintaining a work environment that is free and fair. The managers or supervisors should be held directly responsible for the conduct of their sub-ordinates.
Any cases of discrimination or harassment will have to be investigated properly and stringent action must be taken wherever warranted. An effective system should be created where these incidents can be reported without any fear. Needless to mention that all the employees should be assured of job safety in the instance of reporting against superiors. The protection of interests of the whistle blowers is extremely critical to the continuous process of minimizing the instances of discrimination & harassment at work place.
All complaints of discrimination or harassment should be handled sensibly and must be kept confidential. The organization must take a serious view of the every offence (if proved) and should take stringent action against the person or group causing the hostile environment. The company must also prohibit any form of retaliation against the whistle blower for making a report or co-operating during the process of a probe.
In a nutshell, the organization must get the message across that – creating a harassment/discrimination free work environment is every employee’s responsibility.