A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that approximately 70% of American adults have experienced some form of discrimination in their lifetime – and it is stressing them out. In fact, according to the study, stress levels in the USA are on the rise, and there is an undeniable link between acts of discrimination and stress.
In the workplace, employees are protected from overt acts of racial discrimination on the part of management – in other words, it is illegal to treat employees differently based on race. But the way employees interact with each other is not always addressed by the law. Whether it’s a joke or a sly glance, employees should not experience racism from their colleagues.
As an employer, it is up to you to monitor and minimize any racism that takes place in your workplace. And by doing so, you will reduce stress in the workplace.
What can you do?
- Acknowledge the issue. When reading about the APA study, you might think, “Those are interesting statistics but they certainly don’t apply to my company.” You might be right – but you also might be wrong. It’s important to take an honest look at your employees, the inter-staff relationships, and if necessary, go through HR files, to get an honest picture of whether racial discrimination occurs in your workplace.
- Make your policy clear and known. Monthly meetings and workshops are good ways to inform your employees about the company’s tolerance of racial discrimination – which should be a zero tolerance policy. And once your policy is known – enforce it.
- Keep the doors to HR open. If racism in your office is an issue – even a subtle one – make sure that employees know they can approach human resources. HR should have its own internal policy about how to handle such complaints.
Addressing racism in your office will not only help your employees, and hopefully reduce some of their stress, but it will also protect the company. In some cases, if an employee experiences racial discrimination and the company does not do anything to stop it, the company can be liable. So protect your company and your employees by making clear-cut policies to eliminate racial discrimination in your workplace.
If you have any questions about how to implement such policies or about any laws regarding racial discrimination in the workplace, don’t hesitate to contact us.