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Maintaining a Discrimination- and Harassment-Free Environment

Tips

Be Sensitive

  • Be sensitive to and knowledgeable about the issues which commonly arise in workforces comprised of diverse people. Take the initiative in minimizing potential problems and solving existing ones before they get worse.
  • Be sensitive to jokes or comments which are intended to be humorous but are often subtle reminders that a woman, minority or disabled person is “different.”

Recognize Stereotypes

  • Recognize stereotypes and role expectations and the ways in which they typically limit women and minority employees. Take steps to minimize such expectations in your organization.
  • Look beyond the level of your assumptions and don’t rely on stereotypes for information on making decisions which will affect a person’s career.

Socialize Staff Members

  • Provide mechanisms to facilitate the socialization and inclusiveness of a member of the “non-dominant” culture to the “dominant” culture.
  • A mentor or sponsor can be particularly helpful in orienting the new person into the organization, making informal introductions, and helping the employee feel welcomed and belong.
  • Be more aware of the quantity and quality of contact and communication (both formal and informal) between colleagues. Strive to minimize isolation and maximize involvement.

Promote Constructive Feedback

  • Recognize and address problems which often prevent women and minorities from getting usable, complete and accurate feedback on their performance.

  • Stereotypes often result in minority or female employees not being taken seriously. Assumptions such as “that single, young woman might eventually get married and leave” can result in not taking the time to give them honest feedback and help in continued development of skills.

Manage Conflict

  • Examine your motives for avoiding or minimizing actions that can be seen as discriminatory. Sometimes co-workers and supervisors are reluctant to involve themselves in problems between a black and white employee, or a male and female employee because it is perceived as a “typical work problem” rather than a problem of racism or sexism. A lack of attention to conflicts like this may lead to serious situations later.
  • Know where to go to get and resources for addressing conflicts related to discrimination.

Strike a Balance with Coaching

  • Avoid "abandonment." A manager or supervisor who "abandons" a minority staff member is so concerned with assuring himself or herself and others that this staff member can perform, he or she withdraws informal coaching. This staff member is left to figure things out things alone.
  • Avoid "over-protectionism." A manager, supervisor or colleague who "over-protects" a minority staff member thinks he or she is lacking in skills and will "do everything," for him or her resulting in a lack of growth, challenge and achievement for the staff member.
  • Give all staff members opportunites to perform well. When staff members become known as less competent than they actually are, this creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Provide opportunities for all staff members do well by striking the right balance between direct, hands-on coaching and autonomy; and recognizing and rewarding success.

Be Familiar with Policies, Programs and Practices

  • Be familiar with the organizations diversity and disability policies and programs and contribute to their implementation.
  • Plan for changes in structures, policies and practices needed in your department to support and encourage diversity.