As a business owner or employer, you have a long list of priorities when it comes to how to run your workplace. Somewhere at the top of that list should be workplace etiquette, more specifically sexual harassment, discrimination, and gender bias. In today’s society, more and more attention is being paid to biased hiring, treatment, and payment. Not only is it your legal obligation as an employer to protect your employees from harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (more information can be found at https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm), but as a savvy employer you know that the price to pay for low morale, low productivity and lawsuits due to harassment is steep. There are some basic and easy steps that you can take to protect yourself and business from potential lawsuits and your employees or coworkers from biased treatment and harassment. Even as an employee, it is extremely important for you to know your rights and what you are guaranteed at your workplace.
The first step to take is to create a clear, gender neutral, and strict discrimination and harassment zero tolerance policy for your business. This policy should outline and define what exactly sexual harassment, gender bias, and discrimination is. It should explain what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior, what constitutes harassment and discrimination, and how exactly to report a conduct violation. The standards for behavior should be exceedingly clear and easy to understand, as well as be applicable to everyone, regardless of title or position. The policy should also include a statement that each claim will be investigated thoroughly in a timely fashion and that there will be no toleration for any retaliation against anyone who files a claim. In your Employee Handbook there should be an outline of the disciplinary actions to be imposed if and when a claim is verified.
Your company should express in writing very clear hiring and promotion criteria available to everyone. This criteria should be gender and racially neutral to ensure that everyone has a fair chance at meeting the requirements regardless of outward appearance or identification. This will also help ensure that jobs/promotions are given to those selected based on their ability alone.
Salaries should be regularly reviewed with special attention paid to the differences presented between genders, races, etc. This practice will ensure that your workplace is being fair and adhering to your harassment and discrimination policy.
Make sure you and your employees are comfortable talking about the uncomfortable. Discrimination and sexual harassment are gender neutral offenses. Anyone can be harassed or discriminated against. Thus, everyone should feel comfortable reporting a violation they have either experienced or witnessed. Be certain that your employees are well versed in your policy, what their rights are, and how you are planning on protecting them. Annual training sessions in harassment and discrimination recognition and prevention are highly recommended. These sessions should cover definitions of sexual harassment and discrimination of all kinds, your policy, how it is enforced, procedures it includes and the monitoring process. It is important on this subject that you clearly state how seriously all complaints are taken.
Do you want additional clarity on ensuring your establishment is a safe and friendly one? Here is a PowerPoint we found very enlightening! https://elpnet.org/sites/default/files/portfolio/breaking_down_bias_v1.0_september_2016.pdf
We at Mazur & Associates, Certified Public Accountants and Business Advisors are here to guide you. We are available by telephone and email, so please call (732) 936-1230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment today!