Every one of us walks right into the office thinking it can’t happen to us. However, in reality, most of us have faced office discrimination and bullying.
A study released back in 2009 revealed that 75% of respondents were a target of workplace bullying. While this study involves USA respondents, the statistics in India are equally depressing. In 2012, another survey claimed that 44.3% of respondents experienced some type of bullying. In 2014, CareerBuilder.in said that 55% of people from Indian workforce are bullied at the workplace.
Many severe cases of bullying come to the limelight but there are many others who either just leave the job or never report the bullying incidents. If bullying is not stopped in the workplace, it ends up ruining culture and environment.
Let’s evaluate the situation in brief.
Discrimination is when an employee is less favoured in comparison to others or he/she faces bias at the workplace. Although laws of India clearly prohibit bias and discrimination at the workplace, it still happens.
Women are not offered equal salaries as their male counterparts or they are not preferred for a project just because of their chromosome combination.
However, we strongly believe discrimination happens in various forms and not just gender bias. Many people are less likely to accept a manager who is younger to them in age. Married or pregnant women are often accused of low productivity. In fact, bias happens based on ethnic origin and caste too.
For instance, the manager won’t even consider a 24-year old for promotion thinking that he may not have enough qualifications or experience.
Bullying is unreasonable behavior that affects an individual emotionally and mentally. It includes unnecessary yelling, using offensive language, or deliberately giving irrelevant tasks to employees.
Let’s say if your manager knowingly undermines your work for no apparent reason or shouts at you in front of everyone.
How to Stop Workplace Bias
1. Spread Awareness
Too often, people exhibiting bullying or discriminating behavior don’t realize that they are being biased. It is like an instinct instilled in them. Sheryl Sandberg explained this in her book, Lean in – how we unknowingly do not pick women for certain work. Hence, it is possible that the manager is not intentionally undermining you.
There is only one way of removing this bias and that is through constant awareness. HR managers can arrange training sessions, call out spokespersons to take a session on discrimination, and constantly point out bias.
Half of the issue will be solved as people will realise that they are unintentionally discriminating or becoming biased.
2. Promote Diversity
Ideally, to avoid discrimination and bias at the workplace, you can’t simply ask employees to stop it. Why? Jumping back to the above point, most people don’t even realise that they are being biased. So, even if HR managers simply convey that employees should not discriminate at the workplace, they’ll shrug off the idea.
Now, many people may ask, then how will training help?
This will help because people arranging the training sessions or spokespeople have been doing this for a while and they know how to convey the right things.
Coming back to the original point. If directly telling employees to stop will not help, then what will? It is promoting diversity and welcoming people from all religions, different beliefs, and background. When you have a culture that itself radiates diversity, everyone naturally becomes okay with the setting and just stop their biased nature.
In fact, if possible promote a culture where everyone is allowed to create new opportunities for everyone else. Your employees are allowed to take help from others and collaboratively work on every project. This will help everyone socialize and forget about the bias and discrimination.
3. Form a Policy
While there are less authoritative ways that HRs can use to reduce discrimination at the workplace, every business needs a policy. What if the worse happens and someone reports a severe case of bullying and discrimination? At such times, to make a calculative and unbiased decision, HR managers and company officials need a policy.
Employees too need a policy to refer to and know what is wrong, what they can report, and what is okay. Just to clear out the air, your workplace employees should have an access to this policy at all times.
We believe it would best to convey the policy once you hire the employee to avoid future confusion.
Taking a Step Forward: Stop Workplace Bullying
Of course, no one hires an employee thinking that he or she will create an environment of bias and discrimination. But, it happens. No matter how careful HR managers are at the time of hiring, you will never know how an employee will behave before they have actually joined the organization.
So, what could be done?
It is the above methods and policies that can help HR managers reduce workplace bias and discrimination. By following these methods, HRs can motivate their employees to harbour a culture of productivity and reduce negativity.