The guidelines which follow can help to prevent discrimination or harassment claims, as well as reduce the risk:
1. Leaders Need To Be Committed
The owners, executives, senior managers and anyone else who has a leadership role in the company or organization need to be personally committed to the promotion of an environment and culture which simply does not tolerate harassment or discrimination. Employees are less likely to engage in this type of conduct is they see that the leaders of the company are dedicated to high principles, especially since employees will then be aware of potential consequences to their actions.
2. Policies And Procedures Need To Be Strong
The policies which employers create relating to discrimination and harassment need to strongly define what this act involves, providing necessary examples. In cases where the business is part of a unique industry, for example, a restaurant or manufacturing business, the examples listed should apply directly to the workplace. This will make sure that the policy is not just words, but also carried meaning.
3. The Reporting Process Must Be Clear
Within the policy should be a clear process for employees to report a claim of harassment of discrimination. For example, the policy may have wording such as: “In the event that an employee feels they have been the victim of harassment or discrimination they should report their claim to their supervisor without delay or to X person in the HR Department.”
A third-party compliance hotline could also be considered, this allows employers to provide employees with a way to report discrimination or harassment, as well as other issues, especially if the employee is not comfortable making the report to an internal manager or supervisor.
4. The Investigation Process Should Be Clear
Within the policy, there should also be a clear overview of how the employer will undertake the investigation process. This should include an expression relating to the commitment of the employer to carry out a thorough investigation and to take necessary remedial action.
5. No Retaliation
It is also important for the policy to state that employees will not be retaliated against when they make a claim of harassment or discrimination and that the employer will take all needed steps to protect both the employee and their confidentiality.
6. Regular Training
Maybe one of the key elements of a strong prevention program is regular training both for the employees and for the managers. Lawyers, trained HR professionals or another recognized online training source can be used to conduct such training. To identify the best training, employers need to consider the culture and environment of the organization. Whatever choice the employer makes, it is important for the training to be conducted regularly – best practice is annual training or on a more regular basis.
While harassment and discrimination claims are increasing, they can be limited, as well as the impact they have, when employers are committed to a ZERO tolerance environment, coupled with the implementation of necessary policies, tools, training, and practices to work along with their commitment.