In the United States, workplace discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or disability is illegal. However, since 2010, more than 1 million (paywall) employment discrimination complaints have been filed, and 82% of those cases resulted in no relief for the worker. Even more unsettling, cases filed about race have the lowest percentage (15%) of success in terms of relief.
Whether through the hiring process, performance reviews, or benefits received, workplace inequality is a big problem in the United States. With people worldwide taking to the streets to protest racial injustices, it’s as important as ever for business leaders to incorporate authentic equality and diversity in the office.
How can companies stand up? It starts with training employees and openly discussing social equality to build a genuine environment.
Research shows the stress caused by a lack of social equality can lead to mental and physical health problems. When we develop a positive work environment that’s equal for all people, not only can our employees experience job satisfaction, but our companies can become more productive. While creating a tolerant workplace with training isn’t difficult, it does require a commitment to uphold a respectful culture. Below are a few tips for nurturing social equality in the workplace.
Require Racial Bias Training
When training employees, it’s important to talk about social equality and racial bias openly. Consider having everyone undergo a racial bias training program that creates awareness around unconscious bias to build empathy for fellow peers. According to experts, this training can help examine:
• What bias is and how it affects the workplace.
• How bias appears in human behavior and impacts our treatment of others.
• Ways in which we can avoid the behavior.
Additionally, social equality training should be woven into all aspects of our leadership — whether it’s for new hires, leadership or professional development.
Leverage Game-Based Learning
We live in the golden age for board games and digital e-learning games. With so much at our fingertips, and having seen so much firsthand evidence of the impacts of games, I encourage leaders to examine different ways games can provide an interactive experience for social equality training. Using games in training is a smart way to engage employees and work together.
Here are a few game-based learning options to promote social equality:
• Intergroup Monopoly: Use Monopoly in training classes to teach inequality and opportunity. Each player is given individual limitations and privileges to understand that long-term discrimination is not easy to overcome.
• Jeopardy!®: When discussing social equality in training, play Jeopardy!® to learn the history of social justice and current laws in place to protect workers. Use this as a way to open the discussion of the company’s equality policy.
• Rise Up: The Power of the People and Power: To inspire employees to change or think about an issue differently, this game encourages players to work together to win. Players must collaborate to move a campaign forward by setting up tactics and gaining support.
Create A Space For Difficult Conversations
Leaders and trainers should be encouraged to work together to create an inclusive workplace where employees feel supported and safe to share issues. When companies create a space to discuss social inequality openly, they’re more likely to make a lasting impact on the company. This could mean hosting an open forum during training or something more intimate and ongoing.
Put Social Equality Policies In Place
Of course, none of these strategies will be effective unless companies make their positions clear and put policies in place. It’s important to take a stance against discrimination openly for the future of workplace equality and ensure all employees understand the consequences.
While I cannot possibly fully understand the plight suffered by people who experience discrimination based on race, gender, place of birth, or anything else that makes them different than me, I can empathize with the suffering they’ve endured in a society plagued by systemic discrimination, and I can add my voice in solidarity with those striving to make the world a better place. As an owner of a small business, I’ve made it clear to my employees that the culture I want everyone to experience in our company is one of compassion and empathy regardless of race, religion, gender, culture, sexual orientation, politics, or place of birth. It is the very diversity in each of these special cultural classes (and we all belong to at least one of them) that brings out the uniqueness in each of us and makes our company so wonderful. I encourage my colleagues to help build a place where kindness, respect, and treating others the way we’d like to be treated is the everyday norm.
Finally, I encourage leaders to publicly align their teams’ success with opportunity for others by financially supporting organizations doing important work. There are many to choose from; we started with donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the UNCF.
Join The Future of Work: Social Equality For All
When companies work toward building a more equal workplace, employees are more inclined to respect each other, be more productive at work, and are ultimately more satisfied with their job. We’re at a crossroads right now to fight for what’s right or to sink back in a routine. It’s time for everyone to bring social equality to the forefront of training and work culture to create a more positive environment for all.