4 Ways You Can Empower Your Workers To Call Out Discrimination At Work

posted on August 15, 2020

July 28, 2020

By Heidi Lynne Kurter, Forbes

Cancel culture has become a new and trending global phenomenon in which people are exposing companies for turning a blind eye to discrimination. This act of social justice damages a company’s reputation, causes consumers to boycott them and forces them to change their ways. While employers fear being a victim of cancel culture, confronting discrimination and wrongdoing can be a difficult conversation. However, creating an inclusive workplace culture means having those difficult and uncomfortable conversations and being aware of the discrimination marginalized individuals face.

According to Farzana Nayani, diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and strategist, “underrepresented groups including women and minorities systematically face discrimination due to unconscious bias and policies that prevent their full leadership potential from being recognized and fully realized.” As a result, many are conditioned not to speak up for fear of retaliation or not being taken seriously.

Pir Fahad Momin, digital marketing expert at Slyecom, said “speaking up can be risky, but history shows that it’s also vitally important.” To many, it’s easier to bring mistreatment to HR’s attention instead of addressing it in the moment. While HR is committed to eradicating workplace discrimination and mistreatment, they rely on their workers to be their eyes and ears. Therefore, it’s better to try to address comments or behaviors immediately. The widening gap between the offensive behavior or comment and the time it’s confronted reduces the effectiveness of the feedback given.

Here are four ways you can empower your employees to call out discrimination in the workplace.

Use Storytelling To Educate

The reality is, many employees don’t come forward about discrimination because they’re not always knowledgable of what it looks or sounds like. To remedy this, employers can create open communication to share their own stories with discrimination and invite employees to do the same. Storytelling is a powerful way to help others understand how detrimental discrimination is to ones mental health. Furthermore, it provides clear examples of how it occurs.

In 2018, Starbucks had all of its stores for a one-day racial bias training. The training included a video titled “The Story of Access” that featured accounts from minority individuals on their daily experiences with racism and how it impacted their emotional and psychological health. The training educated employees on how to build healthy relationships, foster empathy and better understand their own unconscious bias. To have the greatest impact, companies should make sure all underrepresented groups (BIPOC, women and LGBTQ) are included in their training and discussions.

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