How to deal with discrimination in your job

How to deal with discrimination in your job

There are many issues and even conflicts that people face in a work environment. Some of these may be as trivial as a co-worker using your items of stationery through to serious Human Resource matters.

It might be difficult for the victim to navigate the appropriate procedures to confront and resolve bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of employees facing serious issues. Something like discrimination in the workplace has different forms and there can be confusion over what determines discrimination.

The main thing to remember that in Australian law it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a number of protected attributes.

The Fair Work Act 2009 outlines unlawful workplace discrimination as when an employer takes adverse action against an employee or prospective employee because of one or more of the following:

  • race
  • colour
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age 
  • physical or mental disability 
  • marital status
  • family or carer’s responsibilities 
  • pregnancy
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • national extraction or social origin

Employers are forbidden to treat employees unfairly. This comprises people employed full-time, part-time, or on a temporary basis, as well as those on probation, apprentices, trainees, and those with set job duties or time commitments.

How to deal with discrimination 

There are many layers to dealing with discrimination in the workplace. There is the ongoing acts or verbal attacks, the stress of having to deal with the issues, possible sick leave or absenteeism, the effects on overall staff morale or the accusation.

If you are suffering from workplace issues such as these, it makes sense to talk to the Fair Work Ombudsman and get expert advice of what steps you need to make to resolve the matter.

If you are an employer accused of discrimination in the workplace or other HR issues, you can also seek help from professionals. 

The most important thing is to take action as soon as possible and avoid having the issues escalate. There are a number of resources available to you and it makes sense to take advantage of them.

Different workplace, same story

It can be easy to forget that there are similarities in each and every workplace. There is a hierarchy or ‘chain of command’ where responsibilities in who reports to who is outlined.

It doesn’t matter if it is a small family business or an international corporation with high performance team development in place and a multitude of different departments, there will ultimately be a ‘boss’. 

Whether the title is CEO, Director, Business Manager, Head of Operations or any other appropriate term, that person will be in a position of authority. How they use that authority is important for the whole running of the business.

There is a need to set a healthy work culture that is focussed on well-being as well as performance, efficiency and results.

This is where utilising the benefits of human synergistics can be a powerful way to do better business and create a strong, cohesive and collaborative workplace.

This approach to human resources has the added benefit of enabling change in the workplace culture if there have been concerns with discrimination, bullying, or other sorts of unfavourable workplace behaviour.

The workforce is one of the most powerful assets for any business. Making use of that power for better outcomes is possible.

Identifying issues early and acting fast

Staying on top of workplace issues is crucial to running a successful business no matter what industry you are in or the size of the enterprise. In many ways, the smaller the business, the easier it can be to identify work culture problems. 

The issues go beyond whether the enterprise is a corporate one, not for profit, government department or agency and private business.

There have been cases where government schemes have inadvertently brought about the emergence of bullying and discrimination, as with Aged Care and the NDIS.

As an example, there are ways to access NDIS childcare which can help families and carers with funding options.

Many NDIS members need time and support to recover their self-esteem and confidence after being the target of job discrimination and even bullying.

Addressing these issues is of upmost importance.

How each industry can deal with discrimination and bullying

Even after you have educated staff about the issues of discrimination and inappropriate behaviour, it is management’s responsibility to act on any complaints.

There needs to be a set protocol on how to respond to evidence of the wrong behaviour and to deal with those complaints as promptly as possible.

It is important that those issues are always kept confidential for the privacy and safety of all concerned.

A work culture that encourages better outcomes

One popular misconception is that workplace bullying and discrimination are exclusively a problem in large organisations where stressful conditions are typical.

An experienced person who is looking for nanny opportunities near me can find themselves in a role where the parent or guardian is overbearing, bullying and where they may be discriminating against the person they have hired.

This is very often the case where a person has English as their second language, or they are of a different nationality or religion. 

There is no acceptable reason for clear discrimination or bullying to take place in any workplace in Australia today. 

Making each work environment as positive, co-operative and rewarding as possible is in everyone’s interests. It provides the opportunity for growth in the employees and the business were achieving goals and reaping the rewards are a shared experience. 

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