Nondiscriminatory Methods in the Workplace

by David Lipscomb

Discrimination takes on many forms, including race, gender and disability. Successful workplace environments take great pains to avoid discrimination accusations that often disrupt company culture and cause legal troubles. In order for organizations and managers to treat everyone equally and without regard to nonbehavioral traits, they must observe the laws and sensible cultural norms of society that protect these individuals.

Spell it Out

Describing company hiring, pay and advancement policies in detail in company handbooks and official documentation helps let everyone know -- manager and employee alike -- that there's no place for unfair treatment in that environment. Having hard practices in writing is a strong statement of intent that all workers will be treated alike. Supervisors and personnel in general must understand the policies and procedures in place, and that these do not take anything into account other than the employee's performance. Role-playing and videos allow individuals to identify improper conversations and causes for termination, promotions and counseling. Training seminars on diversity and multiculturalism where applicable help people understand that theirs is a diverse workplace where they can advance on their own merits, without concern over their skin color or sexual preferences.

Keeping Things Equal

Having an interview process in place without objective evaluation techniques to support a hiring decision is inviting a potential discrimination lawsuit. Standardized testing evaluation techniques such as online personality, skill and behavioral assessments are useful in prequalifying potential applicants without the employer having any knowledge of the applicant's race or gender. Companies must use caution however in ensuring these questions don't veer into the mental health or medical realms, which would potentially create disability discrimination cases. The best tests are standardized without introducing cultural or gender-oriented content, keeping the scenarios in each question relevant to a potential job situation the applicant might actually encounter.

Proper Documentation

Any counseling, review or other professional correspondence in an employee's file should be properly documented. This helps keep a paper trail in place, providing visual evidence that nondiscriminatory policies are being adhered to. This also helps during separation, when job performance -- or lack thereof -- is backed up by something other than a manager's perception of an employee. Documented incidents and accidents -- with at least one witness -- that might prove a disabled individual is directly affecting the safety of other employees, for example, is one of the few ways these individuals may be let go outside of a general failure to perform, in keeping with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Facilities and Accommodations

Allowing employees to have proper facilities, such as handicapped parking spaces and accessible restrooms, shows concern for these individuals. Personal and family leave benefits help individuals expecting children get their households in order before and after the child's arrival. Even small things like featuring individuals of different races and genders in company literature and training materials aids in keeping the perception of a solid nondiscriminatory workplace culture that is aware of -- and respects -- everyone's differences.

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

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