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Domino Effect of Workplace Discrimination

discrimination-against-women-in-the-workplace-850x476smmm• Op -Ed by Maria Ficken

How comfortable would you feel working in a hostile environment? Would you feel more motivated to complete work tasks if you enjoyed and felt comfortable in your work environment? Although I’m taking a wild guess, I’m assuming that most individuals would answer the first question with “incredibly uncomfortable.” Furthermore, most individuals would probably answer the second question with a ‘“Yes!” Even though a vast majority of employees aren’t employed at their dream job, it makes a tremendous difference to work in a safe and positive environment.
Large organizations have human resource departments that can help employees who are experiencing some sort of workplace discrimination. On the other hand what happens to those individuals employed by smaller entities, where their boss is the culprit of discriminatory actions? Any individual who believes they are a victim of workplace discrimination can file a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Their website provides a magnitude of insightful information about employment equality laws and regulations.
Generally, discrimination occurs in a variety of forms that can often be overlooked by an outsider. However, employees that work within the organization can feel the tension start to impact various aspects of their daily routines. One of the most commonly recognized forms of discrimination is in association to race or ethnic background. Nonetheless, there are numerous forms of workplace discrimination. Some additional targets of discrimination include: age, disability, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disability and genetic information among others. It’s astonishing to realize how many forms of workplace discrimination still take place within our society. Educating ourselves is the most powerful and proactive step to take in order to bring awareness to others of these recurring affairs.
Often times, workplace discrimination can be subtle, such as paying differently based on the gender of the employee. It seems that although the pay gap between genders has been closing in over the years, it still isn’t equal across the board. Another example is failure to hire or promote an individual based on their gender, age, sexual orientation, genetic information or religious beliefs even though they are qualified for the position. These types of discriminatory behaviors can often be overlooked or go unnoticed for lengthy periods of time until the affected individual brings awareness to the issue. Unfortunately, as a result of fear, many cases may go unnoticed.
Genetic information discrimination occurs when an individual is discriminated against based on genetic information such as health conditions or diseases an individual or their family members may have. By law a current or future employer cannot request disclosure of this type of sensitive information from an employee or potential job candidate. However, sometimes workplace discussions or interview questions can allow an individual to share more personal information than they anticipated. Revealing this type of information can possibly inhibit an individual from being hired or promoted because an employer might associate the genetic information with constant absences or high medical bills if the company provides benefits. This type of discrimination may occur more often than supposed because it may not be as obvious.
Victims of direct workplace discrimination aren’t the only ones who are affected; workplace discrimination diminishes overall employee morale which can also cause a decline in productivity. Most individuals work more effectively and efficiently when they are in a positive work environment. Employees want their hard work to be recognized, the act of acknowledging excellent work allows employees to feel appreciated. Active and constant acknowledgement can help boost employees’ confidence, which can be achieved through adequate management techniques.
Once discriminatory actions are carried out by those in management, it sets the tone for an organization and encourages other employees to act in a similar manner towards co-workers. When the overall level of respect within an organization and among employees is squandered, it creates an adverse environment that can make it difficult to concentrate and complete tasks. Positive organizational culture is imperative for the life of a successful business. If employees aren’t motivated, the organization can suffer tremendously. Unsatisfactory organizational culture can potentially affect customers as well because employees may start to provide poor customer service. Lack of adequate customer service can impact an organization’s bottom line. Clients want to feel comfortable and welcomed when making purchases at any business entity. Lastly, workplace discrimination can also lead to fraudulent behavior by those employees being mistreated. Fraud is most often committed because it can be rationalized as acceptable behavior, employees might feel more willing to steal inventory or misappropriate funds because they feel as though they are getting even with the organization for how they are being mistreated.
Consistent discrimination can potentially cause an employee to call in sick or take time off more frequently. Some employees might not want to willingly quit, but they might instead try to get fired in order to collect unemployment funds. Situations such as these will cost an organization a pretty penny. Not only will they have to address the firing of a current employee, but they will also have to find a replacement employee. Instances where employee turnover is high can become substantially costly to an organization due to recruitment and training costs.
In order to avoid these repercussions in your organization, make sure to properly train management and recruiters. It’s also useful to provide seminars throughout the year that focus on workplace discrimination and establish a zero tolerance policy. Employees will feel secure knowing that their place of employment is actively trying to abolish workplace discrimination. Additionally, make a conscious effort to create a strong organizational culture which will also boost employee morale and productivity. Lastly, encourage communication throughout the organization as this will help bring awareness throughout the entity. Promoting awareness is the first step to eliminate discrimination.

Maria Ficken Bio:
Graduated from William Floyd HS 2009
Bachelor of Science from St. Joseph’s College May 2014
MBA in Accounting May 2016

Filed in: News

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